Win an inn: Essay contest to establish next Deerfield Valley Inn owner

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WEST DOVER, VT — The Deerfield Valley Inn could be all yours.

The winner of a new essay contest will become its next owner.

"I'm sitting here with queries," said Doreen Cooney, the owner who opened the contest Tuesday. "We decided it would be good because our conventional methods to sell the inn have been unsuccessful. Banks aren't too interested in financing hospitality services."

The Deerfield Valley Inn is described in a press release as a beautiful nine-room country inn with a licensed restaurant. It is located in West Dover, about two miles from the ski resort Mount Snow. The inn was built in 1885 as a private residence and it has operated continuously as an inn for over 60 years.

Cooney will sift through essays, collecting a $150 fee for each submission. The essays should address the subject, "This is my dream: To own and operate a Vermont country inn," in 250 words or less. They can be mailed to 120 VT Route 100, West Dover, 05356, or submitted digitally on deerfieldvalleyinn.com. The deadline is on or before Nov. 20.

The building will come with everything from furniture to muffin tins. Cooney estimates its worth at $600,000.

"It's a great deal for the winner, who is going to get the business free and clear. It sort of expedites the whole process," said Cooney. "It's creating quite a bit of buzz. It's certainly a new concept but it's growing in popularity."

The idea is not original, admitted Cooney, who saw an innkeeper in Maine set up a similar contest with success. Another Maine inn is trying to do it now too, she said.

"We haven't done a mailing to our guest list yet," Cooney added. "We put out a press release and a Facebook post. We want to gauge a response before we do a general mailing."

After running the inn for 17 years, Cooney said she would like to step back a bit.

"I still like the business itself but it's a lot of responsibility having a historic house like this," she said. "The building is a 130-year-old historic house on the National Register of Historic Places. We've taken great care of it and business is good."

Her favorite part is the interaction with people and she spoke highly of its location.

"This is a great place to live," said Cooney, who was born in Ireland and later lived in New York City where she held a job in banking for 20 years. "I came here in 1998 and I've been here ever since. I would say it's a very pleasant lifestyle."

Cooney said she has no exit strategy but would prefer to stay in the area. Semi or possibly complete retirement, she said, is certainly appealing.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@benningtonbanner.com or 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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