Inns of New England

A key to finding commissionable properties in the region

By: Judy Koutsky

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Innkeepers Jim and Judi Lamberti own
and run the Inn on the Common
in Craftsbury, Vermont.
New England has always had a strong tourism pull the quaint small villages, year-round antiquing, wonderful arts and cultural centers there are no shortages of things to do. Plus each season offers its own feel: Fall foliage brings droves of tourists from around the world, winter skiing brings snow bunnies of all ages, summer is a great time for hiking and watersports and spring is simply magical. While activities abound, so do the numbers and types of accommodations for travelers. However, for most visitors to this region, the classic New England inn is where many a traveler wants to lay his head at night.

But can these inns especially the smaller mom-and-pop properties afford to pay travel agents commission on bookings? The answer is yes, if you know where to look. Many of the inns realize the valuable role travel agents play especially for guests from the West, who may not know as much about the area or what to expect when visiting.

New England Inns and Resorts Association is a great resource for agents wanting to learn more about the accommodations in the six northeastern-most states. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2007, the association features more than 250 “best-in-class” properties, ranging from intimate inns to full-service luxury resorts to chic urban hotels throughout New England. In addition to the rich online resource the association offers on its Web site,, planners who specialize in groups can utilize the association’s user-friendly meetings and events site, With a blend of both high-profile and independently owned properties and distinctive hotels that are part of a global brand (including Hyatt, Fairmont, Marriott and more), travel agents continue to be an integral part of what makes the members of this association so successful.

The number of New England inns over 300 in six states can seem a bit overwhelming, so in order to help agents book clients on the quintessential New England sojourn, we’ve chosen to showcase some of the most unique properties in the region. And, of course, each one offers commission to travel agents.

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Travel + Leisure recently voted Castle Hill Inn
one of the top accommodations in the world.
Castle Hill Inn
Newport, Rhode Island

Recently voted as one of the top 500 accommodations in the world by Travel + Leisure, Castle Hill Inn & Resort is a Victorian estate that offers ocean views, private beaches and upscale dining. Situated on a 40-acre peninsula at the west end of Newport’s world-renowned Ocean Drive, Castle Hill Inn & Resort offers guests the seclusion and extra-ordinary beauty of a private oceanfront resort. The restored Agassiz Mansion; the private Harbor Houses; the Swiss-style chalets with adjoining terrace; and the beach houses and cottages are all nestled along the coastline providing an enchanting and relaxing escape. Also located on the property is the Castle Hill lighthouse reached by a secluded walking trail that continues on to the inn’s private beach.

Commission: 10 percent 888-466-1355

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Rabbit Hill Inn resides on 15 acres
of Vermont countryside.
Rabbit Hill Inn
Lower Waterford, Vermont

Established in 1795, the Rabbit Hill Inn is a romantic, Vermont bed-and-breakfast a perfect New England vacation destination for intimate getaways, honeymoons, celebrations and relaxing escapes. Set upon 15 acres of Vermont’s countryside, the AAA Four-Diamond property features 19 guestrooms and suites, complete with lavish fireplaces, double whirlpool tubs and canopy beds, as well as award-winning cuisine. A stroll past the white steeple church takes clients to the Connecticut River and a glance south captures majestic views of the White Mountains.

Commission: Rabbit Hill Inn offers a commission of $18.50 per room night. Reservations made for peak periods such as fall foliage (Sept. 15-Oct. 31), Christmas/New Year’s weeks, Presidents’ Weekend and other peak periods are not commissionable.

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Clients will find luxurious
accommodations and award-winning
dining at the White Barn Inn.
The White Barn Inn & Spa
Kennebunkport, Maine

The White Barn Inn is a charming country inn offering luxurious accommodations year-round and award- winning gourmet dining. The inn features several room types, a pool, gardens and a prime location in the heart of Kennebunkport, Maine. The 28-room inn is a member of Relais & Chateaux. Several rooms have fireplaces and every guestroom includes fresh flowers and fruit, plush terry-cloth robes, TV and CD system, voice mail and Molton Brown toiletries. The Inn is a Mobil Four-Star Award-winner for its spa and a Mobil Five-Star winner for its restaurant. It is also often listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List.” Complimentary services include: country breakfast and newspapers, afternoon tea, port and brandy, turndown service, use of a heated pool, public-area fireplaces, lending library, touring bicycles, canoes and beach chairs.

Commission: 10 percent

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The Reluctant Panther Inn & Resort
offers views of Mount Equinox.
Reluctant Panther Inn & Resort
Manchester, Vermont

After a major renovation, the Reluctant Panther is the newest small luxury hotel in southern Vermont, offering beautiful accommodations and upscale dining in an amazing setting, with views of Mount Equinox. Set in historic Manchester Village, the inn is next to great shopping and activities. All suites are newly refurbished with in-room fireplace (some with two a Manchester exclusive), hydrotherapy spa tubs (some for two), luxurious linens and Internet access. Some offer exceptional views of Mount Equinox or a private entrance. On-site fine dining offers a sleek, sophisticated dining experience featuring regional cuisine and a superb wine list.

Clients can walk to golf, shopping and an array of activities, including hiking, biking and tennis. It is a one-mile drive to Manchester designer outlets, the Southern Vermont Arts Center, galleries, live theater and restaurants, or 20 minutes to skiing at Bromley.

Commission: The property currently offers 5 percent commission (room only) for travel agents with an IATA number.

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Located in the Berkshires, Porches Inn
is a highlight of New England.
Porches Inn
North Adams, Massachusetts

Originally carved out of six abandoned row houses, this 52-room property features spacious guestrooms and suites with a contemporary/retro decor, highlighted by a unique collection of vintage lamps and paint-by-number art. Located in the Berkshires, this area is one of the highlights of New England. It’s located in the most western county of Massachusetts, and it’s a region of mountains and valleys, lakes, woodland farms and, of course, amazing hiking trails in the woods. There are also antique shops, wonderful concerts and art museums, plenty of boutique stores and an array of cafes and restaurants. The renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (known as MASS MoCA) is a neighbor of the inn.

Commission: 10 percent

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The spa at The Breakwater Inn is
becoming one of the best in the region.
The Breakwater Inn & Spa
Kennebunkport, Maine

Built in the 1800s, The Breakwater Inn & Spa recalls the history of Kennebunkport while delivering the modern comforts of the 21st century. Located on the waterfront, the inn features a fresh, contemporary Maine coastal design. Wraparound porches and waterfront decks provide panoramic water views, as well as views of the garden courtyard and lush lawns sloping gently to the private pebble beach. The open and stylish public rooms include a sitting room with chic modern interpretations of Victorian parlor furnishings, as well as a breakfast room with bay window banquette and custom-designed sideboards. The Breakwater Inn’s spa is quickly building a reputation as one of the best spas in the region.

Commission: 10 percent

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Clients can stay in themed rooms
at the Litchfield Inn.
Litchfield Inn
Litchfield, Connecticut

The Litchfield Inn is uniquely decorated with a gleaming nine-foot chandelier and a delicately carved main staircase, and offers guests their choice of 24 standard rooms and eight themed rooms, such as the Western Room, the Lady Agnew Suite and the Sherlock Holmes Room. There is also an on-site dining option in the Bistro East restaurant and a banquet room for larger groups. There are many things to do in the Litchfield Hills. Hiking trails and nature walks, golfing, horseback riding, wine-tasting at vineyards, spas, shopping galleries and antique hunting are just some of the favorite activities in the area.

Commission: 10 percent on full rack rates

Innkeeper for a Day

Travel is a great way to relax and revive, but it’s also a chance to try something new. A lot of couples are looking for vacations where they can explore not only new areas but new things about themselves. For many, the dream of one day running their own B&B seems like a far-off fantasy. However, now it can be a reality thanks to a new program that combines wonderful New England visits with learning the ins and outs of this unique profession.

Aspiring innkeepers can take their new career for a test run and a behind-the-scenes look at managing a lodging property with the Innkeeper for a Day program from the New England Inns and Resorts Association (NEIRA). Each of the participating properties has a unique curriculum and training approach. Guests can choose their preferred style of learning, ranging from “day-in-the-life” shadowing and casual information exchange at intimate, husband-and-wife-owned B&Bs, to formal classes and hands-on workshops at 100-plus-room inns.

Whether a program participant is truly assessing inn-keeping as a career or simply wants to have an enriching vacation, the program serves as a unique New England experience. For more information on the program go to NEIRA’s Web site.

Inn on the Common
Craftsbury, Vermont
This classic country inn has 15 rooms spread out among three federal-style buildings two of which date back to 1795. Husband-and-wife owners Jim and Judi Lamberti will share their decades of experience in the hospitality business with clients through hands-on training and a curriculum of discussions. Their program requires two full days of participation, with additional days added depending upon the level of detail desired by the participant. The program fee is $300 per person, and the inn offers discounted room rates to participants starting at $99 per person, double occupancy, for a two-day package ($159 for single occupancy), which includes breakfast and dinner daily.
Commission: 10 percent commission is given to travel agents within 24 hours of guest check-out.

Inn by the Sea
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
This AAA Four-Diamond beachside resort has 43 luxurious one- and two-bedroom oceanview suites. Owner/innkeeper Maureen McQuade has been running the inn since 1990, after a long career managing dozens of hotels throughout the U.S. The property offers an interesting perspective for Innkeeper for a Day participants: In addition to a thorough, three-day curriculum that reads like a university schedule, the fourth day will be spent learning about and assisting with the inn’s complete renovation project a challenging time in the life of any property. The program price, which includes four days and three nights of accommodations plus all training workshops and hands-on experiences, is $2,700. Food and beverage are additional.
Commission: 10 percent

Gateways Inn
Lenox, Massachusetts
This mansion offers 12 rooms and an award-winning restaurant. Husband-and-wife team Fabrizio and Rosemary Chiariello have owned and operated the inn since 1998 after leaving behind careers in finance and fashion. The couple has designed a program that exposes participants to every aspect of inn-keeping from reservations and guest relations to financial management and restaurant ownership. Participants are encouraged to stay several days to gain the most experience, but a summary program can be obtained with a two-day stay. Program fees start at $350 per person for two days and range up to $1,200 per couple for a full week. The cost of rooms and meals are additional and are offered at discounted rates that vary seasonally.
Commission: Gateways Inn offers a 5 percent travel-agent commission.

Nonantum Resort
Kennebunkport, Maine
Just 30 minutes from Portland, this classic resort offers 111 rooms on the picturesque waterfront in Kennebunkport. Innkeeper Jean Ginn Marvin started at the resort with no formal hospitality training; participants will benefit from an insider’s perspective of how to keep guests coming back every year. From attending managerial and sales meetings to learning about restaurant management and housekeeping duties, participants will receive a full five-day overview of the essential responsibilities of owning a seasonal resort. The four-night program, which includes five days and four nights of lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, plus all training, hands-on experiences and even a boat ride or massage, costs $1,995 per couple.
Commission: 10 percent

Captain Lord Mansion
Kennebunkport, Maine
Captain Lord Mansion, one of the newest properties to participate in the Innkeeper for a Day Program, is the only AAA Four-Diamond B&B in Kennebunkport and was a recipient of the 2007 Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top 100 Hotels in the U.S.” award. This 16-room property offers guests intimate and elegant accommodations overlooking the Kennebunk River. Twenty-nine years ago, owners Bev Davis and her husband, Rick Litchfield, left the corporate world to fulfill their dream of owning an intimate bed-and-breakfast inn and are eager to share their experience and insight with interested participants.
Commission: 7 percent

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