Saundra and Eric Neperud have collectively lived in 17 different states and on two Native American reservations over the course of their lives. As of December 2015, Wiscasset is their home; they are the new owners of the Wiscasset Motor Lodge.
The Neperuds plan to eventually rename the business the Wiscasset Woods Lodge and make the Bath Road (Route 1) location “your home base for Midcoast adventures.” The new motto for the Wiscasset Motor Lodge is guiding it into a future incarnation as a home for vacationers seeking to take advantage of the recreational opportunities available in the Midcoast region.
“We really want to be a destination,” Saundra Neperud said. “We want to make this people’s home base as they explore the Midcoast.”
The Neperuds closed on the Wiscasset Motor Lodge, which had been on the market for approximately two years, on Dec. 11, they said. The previous owners, William and Nancy Gillies, had operated the lodge for more than 20 years and were looking to retire.
Newlyweds who met later in life, the Neperuds were looking to own their own business and were in the market for a smaller-sized hotel. They searched listings in Montana, Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York, they said.
They found the Wiscasset Motor Lodge; it was the best fit for their personalities and ambitions, the Neperuds said. Committed to their future as the new owners of the lodge, the Neperuds moved to Lincoln County in November, before the sale was finalized.
“It was a big leap,” Saundra Neperud said. Lincoln County is 2,700 miles away from their previous home in Montana. “Wiscasset was the best fit for our lifestyle,” she said. Realtor Dana Moos, who specializes in the sale of inns and bed-and-breakfasts, brokered the deal.
The Neperuds now reside in an apartment at the lodge, which will open for the season on April 15. They are expanding on the foundation created by the previous owners. The Wiscasset Motor Lodge will maintain its name for the Neperuds’ first season as owners.
Eventually, the name will change to the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, a name the Neperuds are already using to promote the business online. An extra sign will be added and the doors will be painted red to make the lodge more visible from Route 1.
The Neperuds are adding a hot breakfast buffet and a lounge with board games and cards for guests. They also will add a grill, picnic tables, and a variety of outdoor games, such as bocce ball, croquet, and badminton, so guests can barbecue and “kids can run around and be wild,” Saundra Neperud said.
Eric Neperud is currently cutting a half-mile hiking trail on the lodge’s 8 acres. The lodge also hopes to attract cyclists traveling on the East Coast Greenway by offering secure storage for bicycles. The “bike shack” will feature a repair stand, maintenance tools, and wall mounts for bikes, and will only be accessible to bikers, he said.
Some of the cottage rooms will also be specifically designed for bikers to store their bicycles in, Eric Neperud said, noting that some bicycles are more expensive than cars. The lodge currently has 25 available rooms; some are cottage rooms, some are motel rooms.
Three of the cottage rooms will be pet-friendly, and two of the cottage rooms are handicapped-accessible, the Neperuds said. There is also a one-bedroom apartment on the property with a full kitchen, which the Neperuds will make available as a long-term vacation rental.
The Neperuds are working to add six suite rooms to the lodge to accommodate up to six individuals. “That’s going to be next year’s project,” they said.
The Neperuds also have long-term plans to weatherize some of the cottages and make them available in the offseason, specifically around special events.
Owning a lodge is a second and third career for the Neperuds. Both have backgrounds as educators and switched careers later in life to work in hospitality. They met while working at Yellowstone National Park. They had both previously worked at the park during the same time period, but had never met until they both returned.
Already, the Neperuds are members of the Damariscotta and Wiscasset chambers of commerce. They have made a lot of friends at Ames True Value in Wiscasset, where they spend a lot of time, they said.
The Gillies have gone above and beyond to help them settle into their new role as owners of the motor lodge, the Neperuds said.
“We needed a home and we really love Maine,” Saundra Neperud said. “We’re so happy to be here.”
For more information, visit http://wiscassetwoods.com or call 882-7137.