When you talk with Mariada Gezon, new operations manager of Portage Point Inn, you can’t help but feel that the rejuvenation of the 110-year-old inn at the west end of Portage Lake will be a resounding success. In addition to being a bright, dedicated and energetic devotee to the inn that she now manages for owners and parents Bob and Melissa Gezon, she’s overcome challenges that make her well suited to the tasks at hand.
When Bob and Melissa traveled to Albania in 2011 only to learn that their planned adoption of a five-year-old son had fallen through they decided to adopt 13-year-old Mariada who had lived at the orphanage for seven years.
Despite a loving, nurturing family, the challenges were daunting, like how to become part of a family after being raised in an orphanage with 30 other children. And then there was the language barrier, enrolling in school and learning to adapt to experiences and surroundings that are commonplace in Grand Haven, unheard of in Albania.
Ever resourceful, Mariada rose to the challenges as a graduate of Spring Lake High School before enrolling in engineering at Purdue University while continuing her love of soccer. When she concluded that engineering was not a great fit, she approached her parents for advice about a new direction.
“I like people and customer service,” Mariada says. “And, yes, it’s fair to say that I like challenges.”
When Dad and Mom pointed to Portage Point Inn, she leapt at the opportunity.
“I want to make Portage Point Inn successful,” Mariada says. “I want to do that while completing my college degree. I love how people feel a personal connection to the inn. For many, it is a time-tested multi-generational family ritual that has endured through thick and thin. When the inn is finished, perhaps four or five years from now, it will be a premier destination in Michigan. It will truly be the Grand Hotel’s cool little sister. We will all be proud.”
For Mariada, the success of Portage Point Inn means many things.
“It is having the pool, the kitchen and dining room, the hotel rooms and marina done,” she says. “It is about having everything booked year-round. It is about having the partnership with Baker College’s Culinary Institute of Michigan going full steam, with experiential learning and internships. It is setting and attaining the goal of no customer complaints, just customer satisfaction. It is about community building with our neighbors and the residents of Onekama Township and all of the visitors—providing kindling at the inn for great memories, beckoning people to return.”
“It is also about overcoming challenges,” Mariada adds. “I know a thing or two about that. I’m not going anywhere until the inn has attained my definition of success.”
—Press Release provided by Alliance for Economic Success