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Jody Corey was visiting the small community of Palisade, Colorado, with friends in 2017 and stayed at a rundown motel for what was supposed to be two nights but instead ended up being one.
“When we got there, we didn’t feel safe,” she told the Daily Yonder. “It certainly wasn’t clean. Definitely not renovated. And we checked out that next day.”
Still, there was something about the community that struck her, and she started asking around about the motel. Soon, a friend who lived in the community known for its wineries and wine tasting told her that it was for sale.
“And I thought this would be a great opportunity to come in and start something super fresh, and then targeted to a younger wine-tasting demographic,” she said, adding that she convinced her husband, Jeff, to buy the motel and refurbish it.
The couple purchased it in 2018 and six months after renovations, the motel was reopened as a sleek and hip destination called Spoke and Vine.
“It just became almost an instant success, people really resonated with it,” she said, adding that they tend to target the 20 to 40 demographic who enjoy wine tourism.
Corey said since they came in, more families and entrepreneurs have come into the community and bought older wineries and rebranded and refreshed stuff that was existing or created something new.
The Spoke and Vine is one of many motels dotting rural communities that have been refurbished, part of American nostalgia brought back to life.
The Meadowlark Motel is a lodging destination located in the town of Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The motel has a long history in the area, having been in operation since the mid-20th century. It was originally built in the 1950s and has gone through several renovations and updates over the years, said Joseph Franklyn McElroy, co-owner and managing partner for Woodyear McElroy Properties LLC.
He said more than $1 million was spent on renovations and employment for mostly local community members and businesses. The restaurant has provided several things that the community was lacking, including an eating establishment open after 8 p.m., a music scene, and a fine-dining experience, he said.
“I think it is important for lodging owners to realize that they should be an important asset to the community in which they exist,” he told the Daily Yonder. “Communities, especially small towns, need amenities and services that lodging facilities can provide – whether [it] is food, drink, entertainment or community meeting rooms and educational opportunities. It is important to engage positively [with] your neighbors.”
“We salute anyone who takes on this effort. It is not easy and it is not always the most economical solution, so it takes courage and vision,” said Meg Sullivan, co-owner of the Blue Fox Motel, a 1950s mid-century boutique motel in Narrowsburg, New York.
“They are an important part of our past and will be an important part of our future,” Sullivan added.