Tina Dean and Buck Shifflett finally realized their dream last Friday with the ribbon cutting for Lydia Mountain Lodge in Stanardsville.
“This is an exciting day,” said Alan Yost, manager of Greene County Economic Development and Tourism. “Some people, even Greene County residents, don’t realize that tourism is one of the largest industries in Greene—if you take into account the lodging, the restaurants and everything that’s involved. Tourism is one of the things driving our economy and it’s just a fantastic day to celebrate what we think is going to be the next crown jewel of our tourism industry here.”
Last year, lodging alone brought in $5.7 million to Greene County, Yost noted.
“That’s people coming from outside of Greene County and spending the night in places like Lydia Lodge and Cabins, spending their money here and going back home,” he said.
Three years ago, Dean and Shifflett applied and received a $150,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund. The required locality match of $150,000 came from the Greene County Tourism Advisory Council ($50,000) and the Economic Development Authority covered the remaining $100,000. The grant will be paid back from the additional transient occupancy taxes garnered from Lydia’s new lodge.
“The chamber, myself, economic development and tourism council are excited to have played a very small role in all of this,” Yost said. “We’re just excited that Buck and Tina have made all this a reality.”
Stanardsville Supervisor Bill Martin said he was excited to see the lodge open.
“This is all about entrepreneurship. This is about government getting out of the way or facilitating people like this with good ideas and resources to make something happen,” Martin said. “It’s all about tourism and our economy and what a big element tourism is to our local economy; it turns into tax revenue from the tourists that come and go that we don’t have to pay for. It provides jobs. Obviously, it’s just a win-win-win all around.”
Wirt Confroy, from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, said Virginia is an international destination.
“For Alan to connect us with Tina and Buck, who had already with their life passion and lifeblood created this experience, and when we knew we could potentially help them grow this—it was just the idea project for us,” Confroy said. “I look forward to what it’s going to be for Greene County and really for the entire state. Virginia’s for Lovers—and mountain lovers, especially.”
Shifflett said it’s been a team effort to get the lodge open.
“We get a lot of the credit, but it’s a huge team of us that made it happen and I’d like to thank them all,” he said.
“And thank you to the state and the Greene County EDA for helping us make our dreams come true,” Dean said. “I don’t want to say too much or I’ll get weepy. I am grateful that we’re here today and that God gave us the strength to do this.”
The Bearrr Appétit Restaurant has also opened at the lodge. It’s open Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about Lydia Mountain Lodge and Log cabins, visit www.lydiamountainlodge.com.