We checked into the Lake Lure Inn. Built in 1927, the antique North Carolina hotel served as command central for the making of the movie Dirty Dancing. You now can stay in the Patrick Swayze Suite or Jennifer Grey Suite. Furnished with exquisite period furniture and meticulous attention to detail, the surroundings make guests feel elevated, enchanted, and enriched.
We had dinner in their Veranda Restaurant overlooking the lake, only a stone’s throw away from our table. The staff was all locals from the small mountain town. They reached way beyond their plain heritage in a noticeable effort to create a sense of elegance and worth. After seating us at our reserved table, the maitre d’ presented the menus and wine list, and then graciously said, “Hope y’all enjoy”––not a phrase you’d hear at a five-star restaurant in Boston. There was an earnest effort to take the experience much, much higher than you would get at Nettie’s Diner down the street where the wait staff simply perform their tasks.
The difference between the Lake Lure Inn and Nettie’s Diner came primarily from a deliberate attempt to not take the customer for granted. Someone decided that this classy hotel setting should come with an equally classy guest experience. Knowing they could not afford to import a Ritz-Carlton Hotel–trained wait staff, they entrusted their valuable reputation to young people recruited from the local Burgers and More. Then, they trained them to not take the guest for granted, but make their experience consistently and perpetually as elegant as the old hotel.
The next morning we check out too early for the hotel’s Sunday brunch, featuring eggs Florentine and fresh mountain trout. So, we stopped at Nettie’s for scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, and biscuits. The food was just as we expected—completely routine, plain vanilla, nothing out of the ordinary. As we looked at the Lake Lure Inn in the distance, we suddenly realized that, had we stopped at Nettie’s first when we came to town, the diner might not have seemed so plain vanilla. The Lake Lure Inn had altered our service expectations and Nettie’s would never be the same again—nor, would any other service provider for that matter. As we close National Customer Service Week, we celebrate the staff and leadership of the Lake Lure Inn.