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Rustic Inn under new management

Joel Nelson stands behind the counter of the front desk, ready to take reservations at the Rustic Inn.

By Nick Longworth

The Rustic Inn, located at 601 E 1st St. on the main drag of Highway 34 in Park Rapids, has a new face behind the reception desk - and managing the grounds - in Joel Nelson.

Beginning the first week of April, Nelson began living onsite while also training in as the motel’s newest general manager.

No stranger to the town of Park Rapids, Nelson grew up in Akeley before moving around the Twin Cities region.

Now back in the Park Rapids area, he hopes to establish a strong relationship with customers, both potential and current.

“I was living with my dad and helping him out when the previous managers decided to leave their current position,” said Nelson.

“It seemed like the right opportunity.”

Currently, the Rustic Inn offers 11 rooms total: four single rooms with a queen- sized bed, six double rooms with full-sized beds and one “suite” that is the size of two rooms, having a living room area that has a futon double bed and also a full-size bed.

Rooms 9 and 10 as well as 3 and 4 are adjoining and able to be connected. Only two rooms are smoking.

As the only on-site staff available, Nelson will be “Johnny on the spot” for the motel.

“I live upstairs above the office and I’m onsite all the time. The office is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., but because it’s just me we have an after-hours doorbell as well. The phones always roll over to my cell phone and I always carry it with me in case anyone needs anything when I’m out and about getting supplies,” Nelson said.

“I’m very aware of when people are checking in, because I’m almost always here.”

The Rustic Inn currently offers typical amenities of most modern motels including free WiFi, basic cable and a basic complimentary breakfast.

Extended stay rates and other discounts are also available.

“Sometimes we will get construction workers for weeks on end. There are extended rates and discounts for AAA and AARP, and other standard discounts as well. We do get some long-term residents through the winter. If they need linens, I can help them out, but there’s a deposit for pets in case there’s extra cleaning,” Nelson said.

In his new position, Nelson hopes to satisfy customers who decide to stay there instead of at a competitor.

“It’s been going good so far after a long winter. We see a lot of tourists in the summer months. We have groups that rent out blocks of rooms, and also deer hunters that pre-book for the next year. Right now there are a lot of people coming up to open their cabins,” Nelson said.

“Our rates are very affordable, and it’s kind of a cozy feel. They’re meant to have the ‘up north cabin’ kind of feeling as opposed to the normal motel look - especially for people coming to the area and doing other things.”

The Rustic Inn can be reached at 237-2828.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364