DOVER — A "win-an-inn" contest was deemed unsuccessful by its owner.

"We did not get enough contestants," said Doreen Cooney, innkeeper at the Deerfield Valley Inn on Route 100 in West Dover.

The essay contest ended on Feb. 29 and it received plenty of attention from the press. Besides local outlets and Vermont Public Radio, websites including Huffington Post and IrishCentral featured stories on the historic inn being available to the contest winner. Essays were to address the subject, "This is my dream: To own and operate a Vermont country inn," in 250 words or less.

The deadline had been extended to the end of February after Cooney did not receive enough entries in November.

"We had reached over 1 million people ourselves. We had a huge program going here," she said of marketing efforts done through the inn. "We worked really hard on it."

Since closing the contest, Cooney said she has returned the $150 entry fees. She had thought the prospect of winning an inn with an estimated worth of $600,000 would appeal to a lot of people. Some doubted the authenticity of the contest, worrying it was a scam.

"It's too bad really. I thought it was a great idea," Cooney said, adding that the contest was not her idea but something she had heard of at other inns. "It just didn't resonate with people."


Even in hindsight, Cooney said she doesn't know what she would have done differently. The amount of entries received was "not nearly enough" for her to consider announcing a winner. Not divulging the amount of entries, she said it didn't have to be $600,0000.

The property is on the market. Cooney said she will keep running the inn.

"Being here isn't such a bad place to be," she reflected. "I was just hoping to step back a little bit. I love Vermont. It's not a bad situation for me to be in."

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.