The Inn at the Round Barn in Waitsfield is planning to reopen shortly after this week with strict adherence to state guidelines for inns and lodges.
But when the inn opens for lodging, inn owners Kim and Jim Donahue will be trying a completely different mode of operation.
“We will open first with exclusive access to our inner circle of guests and offer the whole house and whole property for a family or large group so that people who’ve been with their nuclear families can celebrate with their extended family,” Kim Donahue said.
The Inn at the Round Barn will be offering complete packages including meals and concierge services.
“It will be a complete package that features culinary support for all three meals, everything they need to have a wonderful time without having to think about the daily grind of grocery shopping,” she added.
The Donahues purchased the property from the Simko family in 2014 and this new type of whole inn opportunity is something they’d contemplated but were so engaged in their traditional lodging model that they weren’t able to get to it.
“The really exciting thing we’re doing is taking this opportunity to execute plans we’ve been working on the past few years to really change our hospitality philosophy,” she said.
The inn has 12 rooms and a capacity of 26 people. There’s a full-time innkeeper on the premises.
Donahue said that she and her team were working hard to develop protocols to develop cleaning and sanitizing methods that comply with state standards. She said that allowing an extended family to book the property would reduce interactions and touch which will help with compliance.
“This will reduce the stress on our housekeeping support team. It’s about keeping our team and guests safe,” she said.
She and her staff are also working on developing a pantry for amenities so that guests can grab a salad or something sweet between meals.
“We want to make sure they want for nothing,” she noted.
The Donahues plan to test market the idea to some of their repeat visitors as well as families who have stayed at the inn for weddings and other events.
“We’re lucky we have a database of experienced guests to whom we can market this. We’ve done some beta testing already and the response was good,” she said.
The Inn at the Round Barn’s Feed 4 for $40 supper program will continue with some modifications and more staff will be returning soon.
Asked if they would ever return to a more retail model of innkeeping, Donahue said “I’m sure we will.”
“The market will tell us whether we need to. We want to be available to guests who have fallen in love with this really special place and this property,” she added.