Innkeeping comes with surprises

As soon as Jim & Ibby Cooper crossed the covered bridge to Jackson, New Hampshire, and saw the Inn at Thorn Hill, they knew they wanted to buy it. Hospitality is in Jim’s blood, being from a family in the business and working for 20 years for various hotels. Ibby was a teacher whose skills would be applied to training staff and developing programs.

Yet there were surprises to come. the Coopers had three children in college and one in seventh grade when they bought the inn, and shortly after, Ibby became pregnant with their fifth. Their new son was popular with their guests, as Ibby waited tables with him on her back.

“I thought I could do this for five years,” Ibby says, “but it’s now been 16 years. New England was an adjustment, as we’d lived before where it was warmer. But we’ve learned to enjoy the four seasons.”

An even bigger surprise occurred on October 13, 2002, when a fire destroyed the inn. All guests and staff were safe and sound, but the Coopers faced a decision, whether to walk away or rebuild. They chose to build a new inn like the original but with a long-range vision for growth.

Now the main building at the Inn at Thorn Hill and Spa has 16 guests rooms (up from 12), an award-winning restaurant, a wine cellar, a cooperage, and a spa with exercise room and dry sauna. After more than a year, the inn reopened on December 22, 2003 to welcome new and previous guests.

Jim & Ibby see their warm and attentive hospitality, which they instill in their staff, as key to the fact that 35 percent of their guests have been there before. “They come back to try different rooms, new menu items, and the various seasons here,” Jim explains.

The Coopers were among the three inns in northern New England that founded DINE. The group encouraged Europeans with their long vacations to come to the U.S. and stay at all three inns. The DINE idea grew, and now guests (like you) from anywhere in the world can plan a vacation with stays at Distinctive Inns throughout New England.

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