An Innkeeper Finds Renewal in Ripton
April 01, 2020
For Chris Bullock, returning to Ripton felt like coming home.
Bullock was 16 years old when his mother—a government employee from New Jersey with no hospitality experience—decided to make a lifestyle change. In 1978, she bought The Chipman Inn on Route 125 in the tiny town of Ripton, located east of Middlebury.
Chris Bullock spent part of his adolescence and early adult years helping his mother run the nine-room inn, which she later sold in 1985.
Returning to The Chipman Inn
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, Chris Bullock got married, raised twin daughters, and went on to work for major hotel companies in New York and Boston. But life took an expected turn after his marriage ended and he lost his job. In 2012, he decided to repurchase the inn with his mother and return to Vermont.
“When we came here the first time, I was 16 and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But it was (my mother’s) dream, and after working for 30 years in the hotel business, it became mine as well,” he says. “More than one guest has told me, ‘So Chris, we can see why you came back. We feel that the inn is restoring you after divorce and loss of a job, while you’re restoring it.’ And it’s very true.”
Today, Bullock’s mother has dementia and lives in a nearby assisted living facility. She has no memory of running the inn 40 years ago or repurchasing it in 2012. When asked what it’s like to follow in his mother’s footsteps and run the inn himself, Bullock replies, “It’s an honor.”
The Impact of COVID-19 at The Chipman Inn
Like many Vermont businesses, The Chipman Inn is struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reservations at the inn have been canceled through April, and Bullock worries how the inn will fare in the months ahead. Shortly after I met with Bullock at the inn for this story, life as we know it instantly changed. Schools were closed and stay-at-home orders were issued as the spread of the coronavirus outbreak escalated.
“Having experienced 9/11 first-hand in New York City, I know that things will return to the way they were, or near to what they were,” Bullock said in a follow-up phone interview last week. To stay busy, Bullock is making repairs and minor updates to the inn. “It’s my way of feeling in control,” he says.
When the pandemic ends and you want to getaway to a welcoming and restful place, put The Chipman Inn and the scenic town of Ripton on your list.
Learn more at ChipmanInn.com
Happy Vermont Podcast: Interview with Chris Bullock
In Episode 3 of my Happy Vermont podcast, Chris Bullock talks about his personal journey that led him to become a Vermont innkeeper, and how he’s managing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please email ideas or feedback to [email protected]. Thank you for listening.
Special thanks to Pluck for podcast editing and post-production.