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The Story of Our Pet Friendly B&B in the Shenandoah Valley

Dave is a native Alabamian, born in Birmingham, Alabama. He then moved to Tampa, Florida, graduating from University of South Florida. Tampa was his home until 1999. Dave enjoys golf, a good hike and a good joke.

Heidi is a native Virginian, who lived in South and North Carolina as well as Tallahassee, Florida. She enjoys cooking, gardening, UVA basketball, and walking the Appalachian Trail.

We are often asked, “How did you become an Innkeeper?” If you wonder how Dave and Heidi ended up at the Iris Inn providing lodging to guests here on this beautiful mountain, pour yourself a drink, and take a seat. Then read on.

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Dave and Heidi Lanford began their careers in sales and management for the medical technology industry. They met while working for Bayer’s Medical Diagnostic division and traveled extensively for their jobs. On the weekends, the Lanfords would entertain family and friends in their home, standing around the kitchen sharing stories for hours and serving up fabulous meals. For Heidi, cooking was a way to relax and let go of the stresses of a corporate career.

While serving on a task force at Bayer that brought in the single, largest contract for a multi-hospital buying group at the time, Dave and Heidi realized they had complementary business skills. They knew that at some point in the future they would purchase a business together. And then an idea presented itself during a getaway to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Dave arranged a stay at a bed and breakfast, and over the weekend the Lanfords had numerous conversations with the innkeepers. They discovered they had very similar business backgrounds and experiences to their hosts. The idea of one day owning and running a B&B after their careers ended became intriguing to the Lanfords.

They began researching ownership of a B&B while still working in their respective careers. However, the travel they once enjoyed started taking its toll, and the Lanfords began dreaming about a life without airports, security lines and hotel lobbies. But they never lost the love for meeting new people, so they began planning their future lives as innkeepers.

But the future came sooner than expected. Heidi’s job ended two years before their planned transition into innkeeping; and, after much discussion, they moved their timeline up. They began a 5-month stint of studying the industry, attending innkeeping conferences, signing up for seminars and interviewing successful innkeepers. Now it was time to find an inn.

Their first foray into purchasing an inn was contingent on the Lanfords selling their 5-bedroom home in Charlottesville, VA. They put their home on the market and placed an offer on the inn. The Lanfords’ home was in contract three days after putting it on the market, and then bad news struck – the owners of the inn decided not to sell it. Now they were without a home or an inn.

They frantically searched for an inn for sale and came upon an inn drenched in light and perched atop a Blue Ridge mountain overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Three days after visiting the inn, they put down an offer; after a short negotiation, they were in contract and were able to move directly from their former home to the inn. It was 2007, and the Lanfords were innkeepers at last.