In September 2019, a resident who lives across from La Plaza Del Sol motel on Main Street in Mashpee brought 56 pages of Mashpee Police logs dating back to January 1, 2017, to the Mashpee Board of Selectmen regarding incidents at the motel including an unattended death, suspected drug overdoses, sex offender registrations, domestic disturbances, suspicious vehicles and activity, health and well-being checks, noise complaints, restraining order services and verbal threats.
Today, La Plaza Del Sol’s new manager, Douglas Papp, said he has made it his priority to improve the motel’s past reputation.
“I didn’t realize the reputation this place had when I took the job, but I made it clear if the owners wanted me to come on board I’d be making a lot of changes,” Mr. Papp said.
Mr. Papp, who previously worked as a paint contractor, took the manager position in February because he said his age [70 years old] was making it more difficult to climb around houses to paint.
“I’ve had experience in motel management,” he said. “Years ago in Dennis Port, I used to manage a motel called the Polly Fisk, a summer motel down by the beach.”
Mr. Papp lives in an apartment above the motel’s office.
“It’s good to have an onsite manager because there is someone that’s always here in case of emergency,” Mr. Papp said. “The reputation that this place had wasn’t great. It was actually a lot less than great. So if I was going to stay here the owners were going to have to allow me to clean it up because now my reputation is at stake.”
Mr. Papp said he has tightened up on the security around the motel, including new security cameras. And if a guest wants to stay more than a week at the motel Mr. Papp will run a background check.
“The maximum stay for any of our guests is 10 weeks,” Mr. Papp said.
Mr. Papp said the type of people who will often stay for the maximum time are good people who are looking for year-round rentals, but they might not have the best credit, which makes it even harder and more time-consuming for them to find a rental on Cape Cod.
In addition to security, Mr. Papp has been cosmetically updating the place.
“I’m trying to brighten up the place and get rid of the drab motel feel—the dark couches and nothing on the walls,” Mr. Papp said.
Partly on his own time, Mr. Papp said he has been going to thrift stores and buying Cape Cod-style paintings and art and hanging them in all of the rooms.
“I’m an artist, so I like to make things look better, and when people come in here, I want them to think ‘oh this is nice,’” he said.
One of the perks of the job for Mr. Papp is that he has able to have an art studio in his onsite living space. His favorite medium is oil paints.
Mr. Papp has spent a lot of time, sprucing the place up with more lively paint colors. He painted a Key West, Florida, themed mural in a bar-style seating area near the outdoor pool.
The motel did not open the pool this summer, which Mr. Papp attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, but he said he hopes to make sure it is open next summer.
Another new hire helping Mr. Papp transform the motel is US Air Force veteran John Walker, who is Mr. Papp’s assistant and the caretaker of the motel.
“I moved here from Ohio back in March and was looking for a job,” Mr. Walker said. “This place was hiring for maintenance and was in close proximity to me. It fits my skill set, and it was just the right distance at the time because I still didn’t know where the heck I was and it worked out.”
The effort Mr. Papp and Mr. Walker have put into refurbishing the motel has resulted in a positive outcome for some of the guests this summer.
Mr. Papp said he had quite a few traveling nurses who were assigned to Falmouth and Cape Cod hospitals stay at the motel, and they left heartwarming notes thanking him for the hospitality.
In addition to traveling nurses, Mr. Papp said he had some guests who were working temporarily at Joint Base Cape Cod.
“This place would also be nice for golfers who are maybe coming down to the Cape just for the weekend,” Mr. Papp said. “I’ve even talked to a couple golf courses about putting together packages, so we’ll work on that.”
Mr. Papp said that although the progress has been slow due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, he is happy with the progress he has made.
“This year has been so difficult operating under the restraints,” he said. “People aren’t traveling as much and don’t feel safe about going out, so it’s a hit on small businesses like us.”