A sneak peek at Cape Cod’s newest five-star hotel


What’s most remarkable about the Chatham Inn’s rise from frumpy to fashionable is how quickly it happened. Less than 10 years ago it was known as the Cranberry Inn. Back then it was a traditional bed and breakfast, with ruffles, floral curtains, braided oval rugs and lots of doilies.

But beneath the doilies and floral accent pillows was a historic structure. The building is the oldest continually operating inn on Cape Cod. It was built in 1830 and has changed hands and names several times.

“I don’t think it’s seen a new coat of paint since the Reagan administration,” said Chatham Inn owner Jeff Ippoliti. “But we walked in and my wife, Kayla, said, ‘This is it. It took him about five seconds. I looked around and said, ‘Are you sure?’ The linoleum floors were chipping and the plastic shower liners may have been white at one point, but they weren’t anymore.

The couple made an offer on the Cranberry Inn after seeing it in 2013, but lost out to another buyer. When it came back on the market two years later, their offer was accepted and they launched a series of major renovations. Ippolito declined to say how much he paid for the inn, but said the cost of the renovations far exceeded the price of the property.

The lobby of the Chatham Inn. The property received a five-star rating from Forbes magazine in April.Handout

“It’s tough when it’s a 200-year-old building,” he said. “We were also working in this maze to comply with the rules for a historic building in a historic district. Making changes is therefore a challenge.

The other challenge they faced was learning how to run an inn. Neither had done it before. Ippoliti is an attorney who practices law in Florida with his brother. His only other foray into the hospitality business was owning two restaurants in Syracuse, New York. But he and his wife are great travelers and have always dreamed of opening a hostel. Specifically an inn on Cape Cod. When Ippoliti decided to stop working full time, they took the leap.

“I would come with my cousins ​​and extended family and stay in a tiny little cabin in South Yarmouth,” he said. “So I have these fantastic memories of Cape Cod growing up and I’ve loved it here all my life. I was born in July and have spent all my birthdays here, since the first. My wife had never been in Cape Town. During our visit, she fell in love with it.

Because their progress to innkeepers didn’t follow the usual trajectory, there was some confusion in Chatham as to why a Florida lawyer (with an impressive collection of vintage cars, no less) wanted to make a such a drastic life change.

“At our first selectors’ meeting, they actually said, ‘How did a guy like you from Florida, with a last name like yours, end up in Cape Town? “, he recalled. “I was just like, ‘Did you just say that?’ I was a bit shocked.”

With the purchase and approvals in place, they began the renovations with a very specific goal. They weren’t looking for five stars from Forbes, they wanted to be part of the Relais & Châteaux group of hotels and restaurants.

The Chatham Inn has gone from shabby to posh. This year it was recognized as an Extraordinary Luxury Property by Forbes.Handout

For those who don’t follow luxury hotels, Relais & Châteaux is an association of nearly 600 private hotels and restaurants. Being part of the Relais & Châteaux group is the equivalent of a luxury hotel getting the Good Housekeeping seal of approval or an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, except much, much fancier. The organization looks at 300 different aspects of each property and then makes its decision based on criteria such as uniqueness of the property or level of service. A hotel or restaurant must apply to become a member. Jeff and Kayla Ippoliti applied four times before finally being accepted in 2019.

The benefit of membership is not just status. Some travelers look specifically for Relais & Châteaux hotels when planning their accommodation. There are 14 Relais & Châteaux hotels and restaurants in New England, including Blantyre in Lenox and Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt. The desire to be part of the organization was based on the couple’s own experiences while staying in hotels.

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The dining room of the Curvée, the restaurant of the Chatham Inn.Handout

In addition to the hostel, there is also a gourmet restaurant called Cuvée. It offers four- and seven-course tasting menus with options such as torchon de foie gras ambroisie and halibut in porcini mushroom breadcrumbs. Most nights you can find Jeff and Kayla delivering entrees to customers alongside the servers.

The hostel is open year-round, and the Ippolitis plan to hold on through Cape Town winters rather than retreating to Florida when the weather turns.

“We have built a hotel and a restaurant that we would like to come to,” he said. “Fortunately, other people like it too. We love this place, and most rooms have fireplaces, so why wouldn’t we want to be here?

359 Main Street, Chatham, 508-945-9232, chathaminn.com. Prices range from $350 to $1,000 per night depending on season and availability.

Christopher Muther can be contacted at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.

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