LACONIA — The NASWA Resort celebrated is 80th anniversary over the weekend with a giant fireworks display, and on Monday was honored by Gov. Maggie Hassan for its four generations as a New Hampshire tourist destination.
Hassan presented the Makris family with a proclamation for the sixth annual NASWA Day and praised the Makris and Salta families for having built their business as an attraction which featured the best of the state's natural resources and built close connections with their guests over several generations.
She praised the NASWA for its commitment to the Lakes Region community and the state and its role in hosting events which benefit local and state charities, including the annual Peter Makris Memorial Run which kicks off Laconia Motorcycle Week and the annual HK Powersports Poker Run which benefits New Hampshire Easter Seals.
This year also marks the 90th birthday of NASWA matriarch Hope Makris, who began working with her sisters in the family business when she was only 10 years old and started selling brownies to Motorcycle Week visitors.
Hailed as a ''rock star'' by Sarah Lindquist of Clearly Creative, the master of ceremonies for the event which was held at the NASWA's beach on the Weirs Channel, Mrs. Makris was the focus of attention for the many guests who attended the event from all over New Hampshire.
Her daughters, Karen, who manages the Blue Bistro at the NASWA, and Cynthia, who is president and general manger of the NASWA, said they were grateful for the large turnout of friends and family for the anniversary, which also marked the 40th wedding anniversary for Karen and her husband Jim Lowell.
Stella Scamman of Stratham, who attended the event along with her husband, Doug, a former Speaker of the New Hampshire House, grew up in Laconia as Stella Emmanuel.
''My great aunt and uncle started this place and I remember growing up how hard-working the family was and all they did to grow the business,'' said Scamman.
The NASWA was founded in 1935 by Jim and Fannie Salta, immigrants from Lesbos, Greece, who were exploring a rocky hillside near the popular tourist destination of Weirs Beach when they found a natural spring of refreshing, clear water. The spring water tested as 100 percent pure so the Saltas purchased the property and founded the Natural Spring Water Company. The following year, the Saltas added five one-room cabins and christened them the NASWA Spring Water Cabins.
Decades later, when Laconia's tourist volume and traffic increased and the NASWA's visible roadside location attracted many visitors, the name changed to the NASWA Motor Inn. As the resort added more food, entertainment and features, it again outgrew its name and became the NASWA Resort – now often shortened to "The Naz."
Hope Makris, Jim and Fannie's daughter, is the current NASWA owner. She and her husband, Peter (the well-known and loved "Big Kahuna," who passed away in February 2007), also raised their three daughters, Karen, Victoria, and Cynthia, at the NASWA.
And as their family grew, so did the resort facilities. Docks, kayaks, paddle boats, The Naz Boat, fine dining in the Blue Bistro and casual dining at the NazBar & Grill were all introduced under Hope and Peter's reign. Over the years, the waterfront building and lakeside cottages were also added to grow the resort and its appeal.
In 2010, then Gov. John Lynch named June 29 "NASWA Day" in New Hampshire for the resort's 75th anniversary.