Picking the perfect inn

LOWER WATERFORD, Vt. -- Every country inn has a story. Consider the Rabbit Hill Inn here, which comprises two historical buildings in this tiny hamlet of about 35 people.

It sits in a place that was once a bustling depot along the trade routes between Montreal and ports in the newly made U.S.

An ambitious local erected the first building, in 1795, as a tavern and inn. The second was built in 1825 as a home, and both were included in the purchase of the town by philanthropist J.W. Davies in 1919.

The town's owners put their mark on the place by restoring the houses with crisp, white paint and green shutters; thus, Lower Waterford came to be known as the "white village," said to be the most photographed village in Vermont.

The inn has since passed from hand to hand, upgraded and modernized along the way, and the room that once served as a tavern to uncounted wayfarers is one of the property's 19 distinctive sleeping rooms today.

Does all this uniqueness make selling clients on this inn, or its counterparts, easier or harder?

Brian Mulcahy, who with his wife, Leslie, owns Rabbit Hill, believes selling an inn is not much different from recommending any other accommodation: The client has to be properly qualified to match interests and aspirations to specific choices.

But because everything about inns is nonstandard, operators of specialty properties have banded together to establish standards for quality and to market as groups -- which has the effect of providing centralized sources of information.

The old (30 years plus) and relatively large (nearly 400 members) Select Registry is a prime example, and Rabbit Hill Inn is a member.

Select Registry inspectors arrive unidentified to conduct quality-assurance inspections for prospective members and to re-inspect existing ones.

Agents can get a copy of the membership directory with a call to Select Registry in Marshall, Mich., at (800) 344-5244 or (616) 789-0393 or by visiting www.selectregistry.com. -- N.G.

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