MEREDITH -- Hotelier Rusty McLear, owner of Mill Falls at the Lake, has been awarded the honorary title of Masters of New England Innkeeping by New England Inns & Resorts Association. The honor was bestowed at the association's Annual Meeting held recently in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 2003, NEIRA began its goal of awarding only 25 Innkeepers the title of Master of New England Innkeeper. Dedicated to preserving the level of prestige of this title, NEIRA only selects the most outstanding individuals or families who have proven to make a lasting contribution and impact on New England hospitality.
McLear has been a hospitality visionary for more than 40 years. He had the foresight to acquire and develop critical pieces of property as they became available in Meredith to build what is now Mill Falls at the Lake, New Hampshire’s premier destination on Lake Winnipesaukee. He also is a founder of the Greater Meredith Program (GMP), a non-profit community economic development organization dedicated to enhancing economic vitality, historical and cultural heritage, and town-wide beautification. GMP is the epitome of a public/private relationship that truly works to bring the community and guests of Meredith together.
In 2015 Rusty and his longtime business partner and friend, Alex Ray, joined forces to build two of the most unique Interstate Highway rest areas in the country, the Hooksett Welcome Centers on the north- and Southbound sides of I-93. McLear and Ray broke the traditional mold and furnished the centers with New Hampshire brands instead of chains. The Common Man family of restaurants runs the food service and the Country Stores. They didn’t just create a rest area they created a destination for travelers to embrace and explore everything New Hampshire has to offer.
McLear’s hands-on, team approach develops and inspires his staff. This practice is a staple of his organizational culture that has helped to create well-rounded, loyal and invested employees who embrace his vision which inevitably transfers to our guests and their experience.
McLear credited much of his success to surrounding himself with good people, noting that he would not have been able to accomplish his numerous projects, simultaneously without the help of Gail Batstone, general manager of Mill Falls at the Lake, and most importantly his wife, Jodie Herbert. “NEIRA is a great operation and is a true asset to the industry. I am humbled, proud and surprised to be chosen for this honor”.
McLear has also had the good fortune of being recognized by his peers on several occasions: The Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (2015), The Mildred Beech Travel Person of the Year, New Hampshire Travel Council (2008) Greater Meredith Program “Visionary ” Award (2008), New Hampshire Main Street Hero (2005), Innkeeper of the Year, New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (2006), Hospitality Business of the Year, Business New Hampshire Magazine (2005).
Batstone nominated Rusty for the award and was thrilled with the outcome. “Rusty is so deserving of this prestigious recognition. His entrepreneurial spirit, high regard for his employees and guests, and love of the Lakes Region and New Hampshire are unmatched. Many of us are proud to call him our mentor. “
Hotelier Rusty McLear, above, owner of Mill Falls at the Lake, has been awarded the honorary title of Masters of New England Innkeeping by New England Inns & Resorts Association. (Courtesy photo)