July 29, 2016

Inn’s new owners make big changes

Noella May Pickett Photo

Win Coffin (top left), Phil Jenkins and Reba Burress are pictured at the Deer Brook Inn in West Woodstock.

WOODSTOCK — Deer Brook Inn, located on Route 4 in West Woodstock, has new owners who are giving the inn a new vision.

Phil Jenkins and Win Coffin purchased the traditional farmhouse in March of this year. The newly refurbished inn is set to open mid-August.

Deer Brook Inn was built in 1820, and was at that time part of a 300-acre farm. Today, the farmhouse is nestled on five acres. The name of the inn was coined by a previous owner.

“Legend has it that the farmland was home to hundreds of deer, that grazed the fields near the roadside and were often found crossing the road into the babbling brook, now called the Ottauquechee River,” Jenkins said.

There are five guest rooms within the approximately 4,000-square-foot farmhouse; four guest rooms are located on the second floor and one guest room suite is on the first floor. All guest rooms include ensuite bathrooms.

The average rate for double occupancy will be $155 to $195, depending on the season.

“In each of our guest rooms, there is a vanity and sink in the main area of the room outside of the bathroom,” Jenkins said. “We enjoy this concept as it allows for additional space for two people to utilize the separate parts of the bathroom at the same time. Each vanity wall is adorned with wildlife bird art to honor Win’s lifelong passion for ornithology.”

Guests will find that each room is uniquely decorated with handpicked items sourced by Jenkins himself, from Vermont bathroom amenities from Whisper Hill, located in Quechee; monogrammed pillows for an attention-to-detail touch; and fresh-cut flowers on occasion.

The inn’s decor is beautifully dressed in period antiques, new pieces that could be mistaken for antiques, dramatic pieces from France, eclectic rugs and artwork.

“We have transformed the original white and green farmhouse, with bungalow beige and teal-trimmed windows without shutters,” Jenkins said. Furthermore, “we had to replace the front porch. Despite it being a traditional farmhouse, we chose a classic Chippendale-design porch railing. It is a signature piece of the house — we decided to be a little daring and different.”

Jenkins, and his cousin, Reba Burress, will be the chief cooks found preparing the gourmet menu that will be served each morning, centered around seasonal organic products from local sources. Very local, in the case of the eggs, which will come from a farm located right next door.

“Some breakfast entrées will include: salmon cakes with creamy dill sauce, artichoke and roasted red pepper egg strata, and of course, a traditional Southern breakfast with homemade biscuits and jam, smoked ham, and poached eggs over stone-ground cheese grits,” Jenkins said.

The Deer Brook Inn is Jenkins’ fourth inn. Each property owned by Jenkins has hosted a unique reflection of the different stages in his life. He calls this latest endeavor his “petit retirement project,” as it is quite a bit smaller than his previous inns.

“It [Deer Brook Inn] was a traditional-style bed and breakfast — a Victorian which was extremely well done. However, for our taste, it needed a change,” Jenkins said. “We incorporated neutral tones and nature, which is reflected through our art pieces. We wanted to bring the outside in, and that feeling began manifesting throughout the entire property.”

The neutral colors that accent the walls and the newly exposed windows enhance Vermont’s natural landscape, allowing it to pour in. Throughout most of the house, the windows now have hardwood blinds which are the same color as the interior trim, lending a vanishing effect and leaving the rooms feeling open to the scenery outside. Jenkins added, “My attempt was to make the feeling consistent throughout the entire house.

“An hour after closing, I was unveiling the windows to let the natural light in — we wanted it light and airy,” Jenkins said.

The last phase of renovations will take place on the property grounds.

The garden patio will greet guests for either breakfast or hospitality hour. Jenkins, also a musician, was often found playing the piano and singing Broadway tunes during a hospitality hour at his previous properties — a tradition he hopes to continue at Deer Brook Inn.

“Prior to inn-keeping, I was a consultant for nonprofit organizations specializing in strategic planning, fundraising and leadership development,” Jenkins said.

In most recent years, Jenkins served as the national CEO for Select Registry, a group of 350 distinguished bed and breakfasts and boutique inns in North America. In 2015, he received Select Registry’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which is the highest honor granted by the national association.

Jenkins has owned and managed three successful inns, in his home state of Georgia, then Ohio. His passion for property development and service excellence earned him AAA’s Four Diamond award at his Georgia properties.

“We’ve been visiting Vermont for nearly 10 years. We own a cabin in Stockbridge. We’ve always loved Woodstock — it’s just quintessential. We would most often take the Killington route on our way into Woodstock, which would take us past this inn. It always caught my attention, and then one day, it was for sale,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins has been a leader in the lodging and hospitality industry for over 25 years and takes pride in being in tune with his guests’ needs and knowing what they’re looking for.

“Reading people and applying that in an appropriate way — these are the elements that create the magic,” he said.

Through a top-to-toe refurbishment, Jenkins has brought together the 19th-century charm of a traditional Vermont farmhouse, keeping its individuality, yet incorporating modern-day luxuries creating a boutique-inn atmosphere.

“I’ve been deeply involved in civic affairs in each community I have lived in; after getting Deer Brook Inn off the ground, I anticipate getting involved in local nonprofit organizations and civic affairs,” Jenkins said.

In addition to local contractors and his partner, Coffin, Jenkins has received help on this project from his cousin, Reba Burress, and longtime friend and neighbor in Stockbridge, Tom Weymouth.

Coffin, a software engineer in Columbus, Ohio, is working on the infrastructure of both the internet and television for the inn.

“We didn’t use a large construction company for our project. We’ve used several local independent contractors, many of whom took immediate pride and ownership with the project. They have become like extended family,” Jenkins said.

Deer Brook Inn is located at 4548 Woodstock Road in West Woodstock. The inn is a 12-month operation and can be reached at 672-3713. For more information and to view accommodations online, visit the inn’s new website, available soon, at www.deerbrookinn.com.

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