Under new ownership since 2005, Inn Victoria in Chester is expanding its offering to residents and tourists through an eclectic shop of gifts and year-round Christmas items. Pictured are, Marji Graf, Executive Director of the Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, along with Jessica Knisely, Assistant Innkeeper with owners, Dan and Penny Cote.
How do two people become the happy owners of a Victorian inn in Southern Vermont? After 30 years of marriage and 25 years of living the corporate life, Dan and Penny Cote finally made the leap to a 30-year dream of having their own business, specifically a B&B.
For years the Cotes asked themselves how to get off the fast track of corporate life and actually take time to enjoy each other and other people.
“I believe we have found the balance,” said Dan Cote. “Our two oldest children have married and are leading successful lives. Our youngest is just now starting school at Norwich University in Northern Vermont. This allows us the opportunity to follow the dream operating our own Vermont bed and breakfast.”
In August 2010, Penny and Dan recommitted vows through a wedding ceremony on an island in Casco Bay off the coast of Maine.
“We invited 50 friends, surprised Penny with a wedding dress, lobster bake and boat ride out to the island,” Dan said. “We had a fantastic time, but most importantly we decided that life together was getting shorter and our time together is more important to us than the corporate life. We love people, we love serving with a gracious servant's attitude, and we enjoy watching people in our inn smile at the simple pleasures we are able to bring to them.”
The Cote’s beautiful Victorian inn was built circa 1850, as a family residence for Dr. Abram Lowell (who gave his name to the nearby Lake and State park). He used the small building to the side (now known as Mr. Brown's Cottage) as his medical office. The building was later enlarged (circa 1880) by his son in law, George Hilton, who added the third story and mansard roof in the typical grandiose French second empire fashion.
Known for many years as the Hilton House, Inn Victoria is the only example of this architectural style in the historic town of Chester.
Over the years, Inn Victoria has had many uses other than a family residence. It was once a milner's, a cartography office for the U.S. National Survey, and for many years was unoccupied before offering Vermont lodging and opening as a bed and breakfast inn in 1988.
Under new ownership since early 2005 and following an intensive renovation, Inn Victoria is now one of the finest bed and breakfasts in Vermont.
The smart paintwork of purple and buttery yellow draws admiring glances from passers by.
“Cross our threshold through the imposing front door and the first impression of the cozy Victorian parlor usually attracts a chorus of ‘wow!’,” said Dan “This continues throughout the inn, as we have well appointed it with antiques of the period and continue to search for those special touches which enhance our customers' stay. Before leaving, many guests ask for a tour of the remaining guest rooms and suites—it is our pleasure to do so. Don't be shy, ask.”