GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Greystone Lodge was built 75 years ago. Now standing in a new place, it’s a more than just a hotel to many.
“We have a couple and they come in and fish off the bridge. They check in on Thursday, fish on the bridge out there on Friday and go home on Sunday,” said general manager Jackie Leatherwood.
When the fires came just yards away, there was fear, but there was more instinct to help.
“My guests and my employees were my first thought. If you take them out of the picture, it’s just a building,” said Leatherwood. “It was probably Tuesday or Wednesday before I even took the time to calm down and think, ‘Wow I wonder if the hotel is still there,’ because in that moment you’re doing whatever it takes to take care of people.”
Related: Gatlinburg: Open for business
Once things settled down, the cleaning began. Greystone Lodge closed a little longer than many other places as they cleared out smoke damage. They reopened right after Christmas. They had just completed a $7.5 million renovation before the fires.
Employees dedicated their time to help.
“We had employees that lost their homes on Monday that came into work the next Monday,” said Leatherwood.
Even now, there’s still confusion from visitors calling who think the town is shut down. For many it’s been a slower than normal start to the year.
“So many people don’t realize that downtown is there. It’s alive and there is so much to do. We’re hoping people will continually come back. With spring break just around the corner, we hope people don’t cancel their plans,” Leatherwood said.
Like the rest of Gatlinburg, the people at Greystone are reminding everyone they are here and not only willing to welcome visitors back, but wanting to.
“Every time you come back that means that people get to keep working and that’s what’s going to help us grow and get back to where we were prior to the fires,” Leatherwood said.