Couple gives inn a Vacationland makeover

Posted Oct. 21, 2008, at 10:10 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — When Cheryl and Ross Bradford bought the old Twin City Motor Inn, it was raining and there was a bucket under the front counter to catch water leaking from the roof as customers walked in the front doors.

“It was so bad,” Cheryl Bradford said Tuesday. “There wasn’t a single room that we weren’t ashamed to rent.”

The couple, who are originally from Kenduskeag, bought the motel in March 2007 and have spent the last year and a half renovating the lobby and guest rooms and eliminating the reprobates.

“The drug dealers have been hauled off, and the people with warrants aren’t coming here anymore,” Bradford said. “It really had a terrible reputation.”

At the beginning, “we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” she said. “We saw [Brewer police officers] on a very regular basis. We’re almost like friends now.”

Police Chief Perry Antone said Tuesday that his police officers have noticed an improvement at the site. City leaders also have noticed, said D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director.

“We’re obviously very pleased that they made all the renovations that they have,” she said. “The place looks fantastic.”

The motel at 453 Wilson St. is about 80 percent redone, but still needs work, Bradford said. For example, the outdoor fountain isn’t working yet, and the renovation of several rooms is still under way.

“It had 123 rooms when we bought it,” Bradford said. “We’ve combined some rooms, and we’ll have about 105 when we’re done.”

And “everywhere you turn, there are touches of Maine. We have a moose here, a bear there and loon over here. This whole place has a Maine theme.”

All the old carpet and other flooring was removed, all the rooms were painted and redecorated, and new or ‘recycled’ furniture has been added.

The Bradfords were able to acquire decorations and furniture from the old Holiday Inn in Bangor, which was demolished to make room for Hollywood Slots, and the Friendly’s restaurant that was located next door to where the new Walgreens pharmacy is now located.

“We have all the nautical ropes and tables and chairs from the Bounty Tavern and the [entryway] barn doors from Kilarney’s restaurant,” Bradford said.

In addition to renovating the rooms and lobby, a bar that was located downstairs was removed and replaced with the Lighthouse Christian Cafe, a coffeehouse with meals and snacks that features live Christian music.

With the lighthouse theme, the Bounty Tavern’s decorations worked perfectly, Bradford said.

“It’s totally recycled down there,” she said.

“It’s a safe environment where youth (of all ages!) can go to play games and just hang out,” the cafe’s Web site states.

It’s not uncommon to see a grandmother playing Scrabble or another board game with her grandsons or a friend in the cafe, which is open 5-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Bradford said.

“That’s for anybody who wants to come in off the street,” she said.

With a majority of the renovation done, the couple officially changed the name to the Vacationland Village Inn & Suites in July. Currently, Canadian shoppers and those heading to high stakes bingo on Indian Island this weekend have filled the rooms, Bradford said.

The city and Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce are hosting a ribbon cutting 10 a.m. Thursday and a spring open house is planned. Bradford said people can use the motel’s Web site, vacationlandvillageinn.com, to check out the renovated rooms.

“You won’t believe your eyes,” she said. “It’s a totally different place, but people don’t know.”

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