Ed and Lana Wrightsman’s
Green Valley Lodge
by Rachel Perry
photos by George Bredewater
At the entrance to the Green Valley Lodge, just west of Nashville, the sign proudly proclaims, “Super Clean Rooms.” Tidy lawns surround pale yellow board and batten buildings trimmed in dark green, and the freshly washed sheets flapping on the clothesline visibly support the sign’s claim. Proprietors Lana and Ed Wrightsman wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve always done that (hung the laundry outside) in my personal life and didn’t want to change that,” Lana declared. “I don’t think most customers notice it that much. They notice if they see the sheets on the line, but as far as crawling into bed and smelling that freshness, I don’t think they notice. But it saves electricity, and what we do in eight hours on a day like today, it would take three days using the driers. And then you would have to be right on top of them, pulling them out so they don’t wrinkle. So there are a lot of benefits, plus the fresh air and exercise!”
Having been in the motel business for the past six years, Lana and Ed Wrightsman have learned several tricks of the trade. “The first year (1999) we were overwhelmed,” Lana admitted. “We were as green as gourds and facing a lot of replacing and repairing. We kept the name, Green Valley Lodge, and that’s one of the first mistakes we made. We probably should have changed the name to establish our own clientele.”
“We learned how to price for the seasons and weekdays,” Ed added. “This year we made on-line booking available through our website.” The amenities, in addition to well-maintained and updated accommodations, include rooms with carefully individualized décor. Lana’s decorating skills have created rooms for every taste, from country homespun to handsomely elegant. Patterned comforters and colored sheets lend a homey ambiance. Three large hot-tub suites are available for the vacationers looking for true relaxation.
The Wrightsmans made major changes in their lives when they acquired the Green Valley Lodge. Ed was retiring from his thirty-year employment at Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, and Lana had decided to give up her post as the banking office manager of the (then) Huntington National Bank in Nashville. “For me, it was stress management,” she said. “I had been in banking for twenty-eight years. At my job we had just gone through a senior management replacement and they were getting ready to change everything. I was ready to get out of it. Money was not the thing, although I made a good salary. It was peace of mind.”
“This (the motel business) has its own stress,” she continued. “But we have more control over it. Now we depend on the unknown for our livelihood.” Ed nodded, “Will they come? You’re always wondering, are we going to do well this weekend?”
The couple is accustomed to weathering life’s ups and downs together. They just celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Both graduates of Brown County High School, they started going together when Lana was a freshman and Ed was a junior. Lana grew up the middle child of five on Yellowwood Road, and Ed’s family owned farmland where the ball diamonds presently are located. Their two children, Kara and Kirk, grown and married, are living in Indianapolis.
Lana’s banking career actually began while she was still in high school. “I waited tables for someone locally who also had a savings and loan business in town. In 1971, I started working in his bank. We did everything by hand. We even figured interest payments by hand. During two mergers I kept getting promoted. There were a lot of changes in that business.
“The thing I do miss about my prior career is seeing and helping out the local people. Now I see mainly tourists, and help them in a different way. When people come in they ask all kinds of questions like ‘Where do we eat? What do we do?’ This year we’ve had a lot of people from out of state who have never been here before. The whole area is magical to our customers. So they feel like they can drive ten miles per hour and walk out into the streets,” she laughed.
“We meet a lot of very nice people and make friends from all over the country, and some of them come back,” Ed said. “We meet them at the door, speak to them by name, and shake their hands. We’ve had some older people who come in and give us a big hug,” he chuckled. “One elderly couple has been coming here for a few years. They got married in town and they were both in their eighties! And we had their wedding reception right here. They’re just like our own family. It makes it worthwhile.”
“We try to treat people the way we want to be treated,” Lana added.
To find out more about the Green Valley Lodge or to book a room call 1-800-205-8369 or look up their website at <www.greenvalleylodge.com>.