MADAWASKA, Maine — After more than 50 years of providing lodging to visitors in the St. John Valley, Martin’s Motel has new owners and is under different management.
G Suites Hospitality, a family-owned hospitality business run by brothers Steven and Nick Guerrette, purchased the hotel.
The motel was opened in 1971 by its namesake, Martin Lavoie, who kept the business running until 1994 when Lavoie’s son Mike Lavoie and his wife Laurie took it over. Jean Ouellette worked for the Lavoies for five years before she bought the business in 2002 and has been running it until the recent sale. G Suites Hospitality owns three other motels in northern Maine including Russell’s Motel in Caribou and the Aroostook Hospitality Inn and Suites in Washburn and Van Buren, in addition to four properties around Augusta.
Though the historic motel is under new management, Nick Guerrette said G Suites plans to keep the motel’s tradition alive.
“We’re not really rebranding any of the motels we buy,” Guerrette said. “Jean’s done a really good job with the property. We’ll just keep it going and any additional improvements that we can find, we’ll do.”
Guerrette said his family has been in residential real estate for a while, though the focus was mainly on apartment buildings. Guerrette and his brother branched out to motel management when the Cobbossee Motel was put up for sale in Winthrop.
“We thought it’s not that different from apartments so we thought we’d give it a try,” Guerrette said. “My brother actually moved in and was the onsite manager for that for a year and we saw that there was room for growth and room for some improvements.”
Guerrette and his brother grew up in Brunswick where they have spent most of their lives thus far, but their family has ties to the St. John Valley — their great grandfather was born in St. Agatha.
Having only been to the area a handful of times, Guerrette said that he and his brother decided to branch to the northern border where there is still plenty of life to keep the area going for a while.
But the brothers have their work cut out for them.
“A lot of it includes bringing technology in where a lot of these businesses haven’t really used technology in the past, making it easier for people to book online, to come and stay and have a more modern guest experience,” Guerrette said.
Jean Ouellette said that her reasons for leaving the hospitality industry after 20 years of service span from personal to medical.
“The motel business is a 24/7 business,” Ouellette said. “When it is family-owned and operated, it doesn’t give you much down time or vacation time. This place has been our life for the past 20 years. While I’m still young enough to do something else and enjoy myself, it’s time. I wish the new owners much success and hope they enjoy making new friends over the years as much as we did.”