By David Rogers. May 22, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — She would not share with Blowing Rock News her favorite fishin’ hole (except to say that it was at Watauga Lake), but Linda Miller now has a new rod and reel with all the trimmings to ensure that the next “big one” doesn’t get away.
COVER IMAGE: Greg Tarbutton (right) congratulates Linda Miller on her 33 years at Chetola Mountain Resort & Spa. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Celebrating 33 years as an employee of Chetola Mountain Resort under two different ownership groups, Miller received her new fishing tackle from Chetola co-owner Greg Tarbutton on Friday, in a small, late morning gathering of employees, managers and staff to share a cake in her honor.
Miller serves as the housekeeping supervisor at Chetola, heading up a 30-person team that cleans up after guests have left and making sure that the lodge rooms, condominiums, and meeting rooms are up to snuff before the next visitors to Blowing Rock arrive. Sometimes the tasks are fairly easy, cleaning up after a visitor’s simple overnight stay. Other times, such as after a big party, it’s more of a challenge to get things “just right.”
For the guest outsider getting a sneak peek into her world, perhaps the most striking fact set revealed itself as she rattled off thank-yous and acknowledgments to her team on Friday in front of the other employees and staff members. Just as Miller’s long tenure reflects well on senior management and ownership of Chetola, Miller expressed heartfelt appreciation for the long tenures of some of her team members, which reflects well on her own management style.
“Many wonderful employees have worked with me,” she told those filling the “break room” in the inner sanctum of Chetola. “I want to recognize Patty. She has been here 26 years. Doris has been here 20 years…Shelby, 15 years and Michelle 10 years in July…”
She continued listing the many employees who have been on her team for a decade or more, as well as the relative newcomers at 3+ years. She noted that her last hire was as recent as May 7th.
“My job is made so much easier by the hard work of others,” Miller observed, happy tears forming around her eyes.
“When I first came to Chetola,” Miller told Blowing Rock News, “the owners were Phil Templeton, Barney Hopson, and Fred Silver, then it was sold to Kent and Rochelle (Tarbutton). I came here in 1985, and I think the ownership changes hands in 1997.”
When asked about the biggest challenges of working a property like Chetola, Miller explained, “The biggest challenge is keeping the staff that is needed to overturn everything, but it has been fantastic to work here as long as I have. I couldn’t ask for any better people to work for. I initially dreaded when Chetola was sold because of the unknowns. You didn’t know what was going to take place, but it has evolved into the Chetola family.”
Bradley Anderholm is a relatively new addition to the Chetola management team, hired earlier this year as General Manager.
“Linda is a real trooper,” Anderholm commented to Blowing Rock News. “Housekeeping as Chetola is not your normal housekeeping job in a hotel. Here you have to take care of a hundred condos out there, too. Her team has to get out in the snow and the ice and the rain just to get to their assignments. In a normal hotel environment, you are basically just cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms, but in a condominium environment, you have to add in kitchens and living rooms, too. She is here at 6:30 in the morning and stays until it all gets done around 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon. To be able to manage all of that for 33 years working for different ownership groups is remarkable.
“You can see by the number of people here today,” Anderholm added, “that Linda has meant a lot to a good number of the people working here. We have had some students from App State working here while going to school. They have moved on with their own careers, but they all remember Linda Miller.”
Anderholm noted that the housekeeping staff is about 30 employees at the height of the summer and fall seasons and that Chetola over all has roughly 200 employees in season.
This was not a retirement party. Miller said she will continue to work. Another 33 years? Laughing, she replied, “We’ll see!”