It has been tough, mentally, physically, and at times spiritually for Lucy Sanchez, a familiar face in a motel that is known as a center for affordable accommodations in Elkin.
“I am the manager of 32 rooms for the Elk Inn,” said Sanchez. “I take care of everything, from the front desk to cleaning all the rooms when the guests leave.”
Life is busy and demanding for Sanchez. The job is seven days a week at the small motel. Sanchez indicated she never takes a day off.
“My day starts early before 7 a.m. with coffee for the guests, then I do a few reports, and then I start getting the rooms ready,” stated Sanchez who made her way to Elkin from West Jefferson, North Carolina.
“Who doesn’t know Lucy,” said Robert Fennon who was in town for business and stopped into the Pizza Hut next door. Fennon observed The Tribune taking photographs of the Inn.
“I might not remember her name, but she’s straight up the nicest person in Elkin and I can say that her work in the inn is like a mother to a child,” said Fennon.
“I appreciate my job,” said Sanchez. “I have an apartment on-premise and I get to meet and interact with many wonderful people.”
Undesirables also pass through, but the motel gatekeeper moves them along.
“There’s a reasonable judgement that you can make at check-in, but we like anywhere else have many people that pass by,” stated Sanchez. “This is a quiet motel, the owner has three other small motels and everyone works very hard to keep this place up and going. We’re not a noisy motel. It doesn’t work out with people who think they can come here and make noise.”
During the interview Sanchez was observed cleaning a room on the second floor. There she was placing clean sheets on the bed, replacing used towels with fresh towels, disinfected toilets and the sink, plus vacuumed the room. The room wasn’t very glitzy, had no decorations on the wall, but the no-frills room appeared functional and spacious.
“Each room has a microwave, a refrigerator, Wi-Fi, and you can’t beat that for $49.95 per night,” said Sanchez.
When asked how she arrived to the Elk Inn and why is she so passionate about it, Sanchez revealed that it’s all she has and this life is like her family.
Sanchez stopped cleaning and paused for a moment. Sunlight reflected off her gray hair. Sanchez bowed her head in grief to reflect on a personal tragedy she suffered and is still working through. Sanchez lost her son last year. He was murdered in Pennsylvania.
“I was very close to my boy,” she said, “But the culprits were apprehended and at least my only son Jose can have some justice.”
Sanchez moved into the manager’s position of the Elk Inn last summer because she needed an escape, a diversion, another option. She said sometimes you have to find a way on how to best deal with tragedy.
Like an ambassador representing a chain of investments, Sanchez casually steered the conversation right back to the Elk Inn stating this is not only a great place to stay overnight, but long-term.
“We meet great people here,” said Sanchez. “What makes this property work better than the big corporate chains is that we keep things affordable, and the hotel has easy access to great restaurants. Many times people find the long-term rates a greater deal. We mostly have professionals who are staying here at the hotel. It’s a wonderful set of people who I get to occasionally interact with.”
In the hotel business, great service helps especially when guests have choices. Nearby are many small mom-and-pop motel operations.
“People return … It’s the service why I’d like to think is the reason people return here to the Elk Inn,” said a smiling Sanchez.
“Thanks for stopping by, but it’s time for me to get to the next room,” said Sanchez, waving a friendly goodbye.