Karl Buder ’70
From the spring 2008 issue of Assumption Magazine:
“WE WANT EVERY CUSTOMER TO LEAVE WITH THE SENSE THAT WE REALLY CARED FOR THEM and their interests were paramount in our minds,” said Karl Buder ’70 , proprietor of The Thorncroft Inn in Vineyard Haven, MA. “Many of them are here celebrating a honeymoon, birthday or anniversary and we always honor those occasions in special ways. We have found that high level of care and concern about our customers is timeless. Our approach hasn’t changed in 27 years. We really care about the people under our roof. It’s ‘love your neighbor’ business-style.
"The Thorncroft Inn rests on two-and-a-half acres of treed grounds and one block from the ocean on Martha’s Vineyard (an island seven miles off the Massachusetts coast). A romantic bed and breakfast, Thorncroft has received a Four Diamond Award from the American Automobile Association (AAA) every year since 1990, and was voted the best bed and breakfast in America for 2005 by InnTraveler Magazine . In addition to running the Inn, Karl is also a deacon in the Fall River Diocese, serving at Good Shepard Parish on the Vineyard. He credits his Catholic upbringing and education for guidance throughout his career and life. “As I look back on my four years at Assumption, I realize that the Catholic values infused during my grammar school and prep school days, were further solidified and strengthened at Assumption,” Karl explained. “In these days of moral relativism, having a Christian standard of behavior enables me to approach my business in a consistent ethical manner.
” Soon after graduating from Assumption, Karl spent most of the 1970s working as adult probation and drug enforcement and treatment officer in Hartford, CT. By the late ’70s, he was getting burned out and reexamining career options. He and his wife, Lynn, fell in love with the Vineyard while vacationing there in 1978. After purchasing properties in 1979 and ’80, they bought the property that would become Thorncroft in 1981 and moved to the island. Karl also took a winding road to his post as a deacon. He explained, “I fell away from the Church for a few years because I couldn’t find the meaningful liturgy I experienced in college. In 1999 my wife discovered Lifeteen, a Catholic youth ministry, with relevant music and liturgy and I was hooked. I gradually became an extraordinary Eucharistic minister and lector and taught CCD. In 2001 a deacon candidate asked me if I had thought about becoming a deacon. Oddly enough, I had never seen a deacon in action but I said ‘yes!’ My wife asked me what duties a deacon performed and I said, ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out!’ He was ordained in October 2007.
As one of the more distinguished lodging options on the Vineyard, the staff at the Thorncroft makes it a point to interact and bond with its guests. Karl said, “We want to know why someone came to the island and how we can help them enjoy our marvelous seacoast environment.
Running this business is somewhat like having a constant flow of family and friends come through our doors. It’s a rather extraordinary approach.” Thorncroft’s impressive physical plant is highlighted by feature-filled rooms, most of which have working fireplaces. Some have balconies, two-person whirlpools or private inroom hot tubs (a Vineyard inn exclusive). Thorncroft also touts its complimentary breakfast in bed, high speed internet access and a renowned concierge service. “We focus solely on romantic getaways for individual couples,” said Karl. “We don’t have rooms with multiple beds and we don’t own cots or rollaway beds. We have a very specific market niche and we don't try to be all things to all people. Our business model is based on our couples orientation.”
Karl and Lynn have been married for 36 years and have two sons, Alex (23) and Hans (21). As an inn owner, his flexible schedule allowed Karl to coach baseball and football teams on which his sons played. Karl’s busy diaconal ministry schedule (including assisting at the Masses each weekend, teaching catechism classes, marriage and baptism preparation classes, prayer groups, religious committee memberships, etc.) will present some challenges to running a seven-days-a-week business, so for the first time, they closed the Inn for the winter while he sorts it out. The Buders have many fond memories over nearly three decades of hosting visitors and creating friendships at the Thorncroft, but one stands out. Karl recalled, “A couple came to us about a dozen years ago with the specific intention to arrange their divorce settlement. They sat at breakfast for a couple of days with hostile expressions on their faces, furiously writing their divorce arrangements on yellow pads. It wasn’t pretty. By the time they left, they had reconciled and left arm in arm. That was heartwarming and we took it as a real pat-on-the-back.” Those satisfied customers would certainly indicate that a stay at Thorncroft Inn is truly worth the trip.
Last updated 6/27/11