Doreen Cooney has owned the Deerfield Valley Inn in West Dover for 17 years and she is ready to try something new.
She put the property on the market last year, and after a pending deal with a potential buyer fell through she decided she would try something different to help her get out of the bed and breakfast business:
Cooney wants to give away the historic Deerfield Valley Inn.
She is asking anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a Vermont inn to write an essay of 250 words or less.
A convincing essay and a $150 entrance fee is all it will take to own the nine-room B & B, which is located right along Route 100 near Mount Snow.
"Whoever wins this is going to get the whole thing, down to the last muffin pan, for 150 bucks," Cooney said. "How great is that? It's a unique opportunity, but of course there can only be one winner."
Cooney herself got into the hospitality business after trading careers.
Back in 1997 she was working for the Bank of Ireland in Manhattan. When the bank closed its U.S. branch she took a trip to the Deerfield Valley to find an inn she could purchase and run.
Now after almost two decades she is ready to move on and she says she is looking for someone else who wants to make a similar move.
"It could be anyone really," she says. "It could be someone like me who had a dream, or it could be someone with a young family, or some worn-out banker, who just wants to have a nice lifestyle. This is a lifestyle that many people yearn for, I think, and it is very pleasant living in a place like this."
The inn has been operating for 60 years. It's located in the J.B. Davis House, which was built in 1885 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cooney says she has checked with her attorney, and with the state of Vermont, and it is legal to hold a contest to give away property.
A similar contest was held for a Maine inn. That property was given away to someone from the U.S. Virgin Islands after the owner received more than 7,000 essays and was able to collect enough entrance fees to meet her asking price.
Conney says she needs at least 4,000 entries, and if she does not get enough interest she will return all of the money.
"I think for anybody who has even the vaguest interest in having a B & B not to participate in something like this is just losing a huge opportunity," she says. " It's $150, which is really not a lot of money. And somebody is going to win a piece of property worth $500,000 or $600,000 and all of its furnishings and fittings. Why wouldn't you do it?"
Since announcing the contest a few weeks ago Cooney has received essays from as far away as Mexico and Europe from all over the United States.
She will accept essays until Nov. 20, and if everything works out the new owner can be making his or her own muffins before the busy Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
For more information go to www.deerfieldvalleyinn.com