Hotel Impossible Vermont Inn

Jul 25, 2012

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith

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A beautiful 16 room mountain Inn with a tavern and 40 seat restaurant near one of Vermont’s busiest weekend getaways has only 25% occupancy and no dinner guests. In this week’s episode of Hotel Impossible, host Anthony Melchiorri finds out why and guides the owners to a new direction.

Episode Recap – No Experience and Overworked

The Inn, which was built in the 1840’s, was in the heart of the Green Mountains close to Killington which attracts up to 20,000 visitors on a busy weekend. It was the vision of the owners for the Inn to be a wedding destination. The Inn was owned by a couple who lived in Baltimore and was being managed by their brother-in-law (the Innkeeper).

Unfortunately, no one in the family had any hotel or marketing experience and as a result the Inn was not attracting guest. The restaurant alone was losing them over $10 k per month. Without an immediate change the property could go into foreclosure.

To complicate matters, the Innkeeper had virtually no staff and was trying to perform hotel maintenance, keep the rooms nice and manage the restaurant pretty much by himself. This was resulting in a work week of 100 plus hours resulting in a deep divide between the families.

Inn Inspection

When Anthony first arrived things did not seem too out of place. The view was great but he noticed that the pool guests would be looking at a storage shed full of junk. As Anthony made his way to the hotel he noticed that the grounds surrounding the hotel could use some work. Some of things he discovered included:

Hotel First Impression

  1. A broken window shutter
  2. The pond outside the entrance was covered with algae
  3. Lots of weeds
  4. The stoop was worn and needed painting
  5. A mild can was rusted through on the pawn
  6. The rooms air conditioners had clogged filters
  7. The windows were covered in outdated stickers
  8. The screen door had worn out handles and was dirty

After entering the hotel, Anthony met the Innkeeper who explained they only had 3 staff people to maintain the property and run the restaurant. For one of the first times in the show the lobby did not appear to be an issue.

The hotel inspection then turned to the rooms. A visit to the Inn’s premier suite found that the room was ok but outdated. The bedding was good but the art work was out of place. Other issues with the room were; a hot tub in the room with a dust covered fake plant, a gross toilet plunger and iron that still had water in it.

A few other notables found inside the hotel were a guest accessible housekeeping and storage closet that was totally unorganized, filled with junk, used for garbage and had pipes exposed in the walls.

Hotel Maintenance and Marketing

The inspections prompted a meeting with the owners where it was discovered that deep issues had developed within the family. It was also uncovered that there goal was to be a wedding destination but they had no idea how to get there.

“40% of family owned businesses don’t make it into the 2nd generation because of in-fighting.”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

At this point, Anthony mentioned that one of the top 5 draws to Vermont was destination weddings. The goals became obvious. The Inn needed to become a wedding venue and marketed properly.

In addition, Anthony strongly suggested that the restaurant be closed and only used for wedding receptions or corporate meetings. A catering company could be used for the restaurant if needed until revenues increased. This would also free up 40 hours per week for the Innkeeper.

The Fix for the Vermont Inn

The owner took Anthony’s advice and agreed to close the restaurant. This allowed the focus to be on fixing up the Inn to look like a place someone would want to have a wedding. Anthony’s team was tasked with transforming the premier suite into a bridal suite and fixing the closets space.

Fixing up the property’s appearance fell to the family who brought in all the relatives to help spruce things up. The activity also helped bring the family back together.

To help with the new direction, the show brought in a wedding planner who organized a wedding at the location in 2 days time. They also arranged to have a reporter from the Brides Magazine cover the wedding to do a write up on the Inn. The pictures that were to be taken were to go on the Inn’s new website.

The result was heartwarming. The bridal suite looked amazing. The hot tub was disguised so that it would not be the dominant feature in the room. New paint, bedding and furniture (which included a brides makeup table) were installed. The closet space looked organized and clean. The outside of the Inn looked great too. The weeds were gone, new flowers planted and the entrance door was cleaned up with a new handle. The adjacent filed

The wedding took place as scheduled and went off without a hitch. The Inn managed to get some great hotel photos which were put on their new website within 30 minutes. With the positive review from Bridal Magazine, the Inn was now identified as a destination wedding venue.

Tell us about the best hotels you have stayed at. Was maintenance noticeable? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.

Stuart Smith

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