Ripton cabins offer vacationers a country getaway

MIDDLEBURY — When Marty and Carol Kulczyk bought 112 acres off 2430 North Branch Road in Ripton six years ago, they knew they weren’t going to be the only ones enjoying the serenity, wildlife, panoramic mountain views and starry nights that can be experienced in abundance on the wooded property.
After successfully negotiating various state and local permitting hurdles, the Kulczyks in June welcomed the first of what they hope will be many future visitors to their property — now home to the Robert Frost Mountain Cabins. In what is Ripton’s first ever Planned Unit Development, the new venture currently features two 630-square-foot cabins that the couple plans to ultimately mushroom to 10 by the end of 2014.
“It  has been a work in progress,” Carol Kulczyk said last week amid the hum of a busy saw in the background laboring away on the third of the new cabins that will all be connected by an access road and shared utilities. Two large mound systems will provide septic service for the 10 clustered cabins, which will receive water service through a communal well system.
The Kulczyks acknowledge that those who rent the cabins won’t be roughing it. Each of the smartly furnished structures has two bedrooms, a cozy living area, a kitchen with modern appliances and a screened porch. A gas log fireplace, installed below a flat screen TV, supplies the heat for each super-insulated abode. The cabins are equipped with Wi-Fi and DSL.
 “Our tag line is, ‘rustic charm with contemporary comforts,’” Carol Kulczyk said. Rental fees for the cabins: $139-179 per night, double occupancy, with a charge of $10 per additional person. Each cabin can accommodate up to six people. It is a rate the Kulczyks said is competitive with brand hotels like the Marriott, but offers a more rural experience and a “dine-in” option. Those who want to dine out have ready access to restaurants 20 minutes away in East Middlebury and Middlebury, the Kulczyks said.
Ripton-based builder Michael Cummings is leading construction of the cabins, which are in part being fashioned from white pine and black cherry wood harvested from the Kulczyks’ property. And Marty Kulczyk is taking a full-time role in the construction of the cabins. Among his chores: Milling the on-site wood being used in the project. Post-and-beam and mortise-and-tenon techniques are used to link together the major components of the cabins.
“The cabins actually don’t take that long to put up,” Marty Kulczyk said. The biggest chores, he said, were permitting and laying the considerable infrastructure for the budding community that will blossom on the couple’s land during the next two years. The project includes a spacious loft above a main building on the property that houses Marty’s workshop. That loft features meeting space for groups who might want to hold retreats, or for large families who might desire a central, larger venue in which to congregate.
The Kulczyks are targeting tourists and the Middlebury College community as potential customers. A network of nearby trails, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl and foliage season are just a few magnets bound to attract business to the cabins, the couple believes.
With little publicity to date, the two finished cabins have been rarely vacant since opening around two months ago, the Kulczyks noted. They have some reservations for upcoming holiday weekends and Middlebury College graduation next May. They will soon bring a website online (www.robertfrostmountaincabins.com).
“I suspect that next year we won’t be the last place filling up,” Marty Kulczyk said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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