It was the middle of August, the Saco River was running dry, and Kevin and Leigha Cleary were attempting to drag their grounded kayaks out of the mud. This was how the young couple happened to find themselves stranded a few years ago along a stretch of river that passed the property of the former Will’s Inn, a Bartlett, N.H., motel with roots that date back to 1945.
As luck would have it, the owner, Mark Dryjas, was there to help the struggling couple lift their kayaks back to land, after which he introduced them to his property.
Kevin remembers recognizing the potential of the surroundings and thinking to himself, “This is perfect.”
Six years ago, he and Leigha went into the business of renovating short-term rentals, which was working out well, except that Kevin said he had wished they could have more under one roof. “If you’re running around trying to find people to clean and all that for four rooms, why not just have 20 or 25?” Kevin asked.