Cottage Place on Squam Lake
It's a Family Tradition
by Victoria Forester Courtland
NHToDo Magazine   May, 2011

“I feel like everything I’ve done in my life has lead to this,” says Sue Smith about her role as proprietor of Cottage Place on Squam Lake in Holderness. She introduces me to her mom, Beverly, with whom she purchased the property in 2002.

“People say I look just like my dad,” Sue says adjusting the collar of her crisp jade shirt. “And then they say, your mom is so beautiful,” she laughs and it’s obvious that her sense of humor is only complemented by her natural beauty and casual elegance. In fact, these very qualities are adeptly reflected in this business she’s developed from her brave heart and a wellspring of energy. So when Beverly says, “I can’t think of anybody who could do a better job than Sue,” it is not just the words of a proud mother. She’s a business partner that calculated her risks on an ambitious daughter and discovered the personable entrepreneur who would double the business.

Mother/daughter duo Beverly and Sue
have owned Cottage Place since 2002.
With her ability to manifest a dream, Sue has transformed Cottage Place since the moment she determined to raise her three young children, then 4, 6, and 9, there as a single mom. Members of the community turned out in support to rake, paint, and move furniture testifying to the importance of small town connections. “I don’t think we’ve lost that in this area,” Sue says about the dedication to one another she’s experienced in her neighborhood. 

As a teen, she began working for Alex Ray and Diane Downing at the original Common Man Restaurant in Ashland, eventually managing the company store. “Aside from my parents, I attribute my affiliation with them to have given me the courage it takes to run a place like this.” As a savvy business owner herself, she’s made a conscious decision to employ local laborers, artisans, and resource providers. The nearby hardware store now calls the paint that provides a calming fern hue to many of her property’s interior walls “Cottage Place Green.”

As a visionary who sees the potential in everything, Sue recognized the solid bones of this compound designed and built in 1957 by Milton Graton, known for his exquisite covered bridges—one of which spans nearby Squam River. Quaint front porches with red Adirondack chairs welcome guests into the seven immaculate, private cottages ranging in size from studios to two bedrooms. Each unit in this housekeeping facility offers the convenience and comfort of a full kitchen and bathroom. For the cooler months there are new Rinnai heaters in every cottage, several of which have charming fireplaces in their living rooms, and you’ll always find a pretty braided or hand-hooked rug underfoot. In the height of summer, the two-bedroom cottage suites provide air-conditioning and those located on the upper deck boast unobstructed views of the lake.

Throughout the property, there is cable TV and wireless internet access. Décor includes Waverly floral fabrics in pinks and greens, antique plates displayed on the walls, ornate cuckoo clocks, and framed cross-stitch samplers celebrating the simple life. Sue’s father Norm even gave her his prized 10-point buck trophy head to overlook the fieldstone fireplace in the spacious lofted living room of the six-bedroom lodge.

And a replica of his 12-pound landlocked salmon hangs above the brick-faced fireplace at the Cottage Goods coffee shop adjacent to the front desk. For sale are sundries and mementos, from local honey, jams, and the signature Nutty Granola of the nearby Holderness General Store to handmade scarves, plush stuffed animals, board games, silver jewelry, and much more.

Sue brings me out for a tour of the grounds on this sunny March day and describes how she uncovered old world roses in the overgrown gardens and replaced railroad ties with dry stone walls her cousin Billy helped create, in part, with rocks from her family’s farmhouse on Mount Prospect. In my mind’s eye, the common garden around the fire pit pops with the colors of well-tended perennials. Later my family and I will make s’mores here as the full moon rises over the frozen lake, but in just a few months this area will be shaded by the full canopy of a tall birch, while lush fuchsia peonies, big as saucers, scent the evening air. A row of cheery day lilies curves around the lupines, hosta, and the showy purple blooms that Sue’s mom, an avid gardener, says are “vintage irises to treasure and keep alive.” Across the road, oversized geraniums in urns flank the white arch between stone walls, welcoming guests onto the 140-foot private sandy beach overlooking Evans Cove with ample seating in Adirondack chairs.

“The beach is the real reason people come back time and again,” Sue says overlooking the water where guests can rent kayaks or jump off the floating raft. She’s been swimming in this cool, clear water since she was a child when her aunt and uncle managed the property for previous owners. Now she has the pleasure of being a part of the reason customers return and remarks, “We’ve actually had kids who came here as teenagers who now come with their own families.”

With a master’s of education in guidance and counseling, Sue is the creative genius behind the popular Family Adventure Package that emphasizes time together sharing memories. She says, “People have so many choices and limited resources. If you’re going to take the time to go away, you want to take something away from that experience.” 

With that philosophy, Sue offers guests something different in the innovative Couples Adventure Package that sparks caring conversation and playful ways to reconnect. She’s quite familiar with the needs of her most satisfied guests and knows that “they want the vintage feeling of a lake home … it’s simple.” By providing her customers with what they want, Sue ensures that Cottage Place will be a family tradition for generations to come.

by Victoria Forester Courtland
NHToDo Magazine   May, 2011
Photos courtesy of Cottage Place unless noted otherwise.

Need to Know ToDo
Name: Cottage Place on Squam Lake
Address: 1132 US Route 3, Holderness
Phone: (877) 968-7116
Rates and Accommodation: Cottage Place at Squam Lake offers multiple options for guests. There are eight, two-room Cottage Suites with central air-conditioning that accommodate up to five people (starting at $95 a night), seven multi-room private cottages that accommodate between one and five people (starting at $75 a night), and a six-bedroom lodge that accommodates up to 15 people (starting at $495 a night). Pets are welcome at this housekeeping facility and ample parking for cars with trailers is available. Guests may use picnic tables, grills, and a cedar play structure and have private access to a sandy beach with 140 feet of frontage on Evans Cove, dock space for six boats, kayak rentals, and a floating raft. The Family Adventure Package (a two-night stay in one of the Cottage Suites, with self-guided activities and a gift upon completion, for $295 plus NH taxes) and the Couples Adventure Package (a two-night stay, with self-guided activities, and a gift upon completion, for $195 plus NH taxes) are available at a special discount for the months of November, March, and April—be sure to mention New Hampshire ToDo when booking!
Area Highlights: There is plenty of opportunity to fish for trout, bass, and landlocked salmon in Squam Lake, hike Rattlesnake Mountain and other trails nearby, take a boat tour, and enjoy winter sports such as ice fishing or skiing at one of the five local mountains. A bike path leads to the charming Holderness General Store less than a mile away. Educational and cultural pursuits can be satisfied by a visit to the nearby Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and the original Common Man restaurant that offers live music many nights of the week. Day trips include a visit to the Alpine Adventure’s Zipline Canopy Tours and Loon’s smaller zipline, Story Land, the Polar Caves, Whale’s Tale Water Park, and much more. Plenty of outlet shopping is available in Tilton and North Conway.
Dining: In addition to the Common Man in Ashland, Mame’s Restaurant in Meredith, Walter’s Basin Restaurant in Holderness, and Canoe in Center Harbor come highly recommended for lunch and dinner, along with Sunday brunch at Mame’s. Daily breakfast is available at The Holderness General Store and the Common Man’s Rise and Shine Cafe
in Plymouth.
 NHToDo Magazine   May, 2011
Copyright © 2011