One thing Kentucky has in abundance is gorgeous scenery, and you don’t have to look far to find it. The following three getaway spots offer comfy lodging, lots to do and of course, wide porches to settle on and simply gaze into the lovely countryside, should you choose to chill. And all are ideal for family vacations, girlfriend and guyfriend getaways, and/or corporate retreats.
Nestled right in the middle of Bluegrass Thoroughbred country, Fairyhouse Hall in Lexington is appropriately named for Ireland’s famed Fairyhouse Racecourse, home to the Irish Grand National Steeplechase. Owner Shane Haffey, a former steeplechase jockey in the Emerald Isle, serves as executive chef and promises guests a marvelous culinary/epicurean experience. His wife, Heather, is in charge of marketing.
Rife with old-world English and Irish charm, this grand, Georgian-inspired estate is a working sustainable farm – the couple raise their own beef, poultry, pigs, ducks, turkey and guinea hens for serving guests – complete with stone-walled formal gardens and easy access to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Event capacities include up to 60 for an indoor meeting, 250 outdoors for a cocktail reception, 40 for a food pairing, and up to 50 for a bourbon tasting at the property’s 500-s.f. bourbon tasting room. Up to 16 can stay overnight for a family/friends outing or corporate retreat.
“Corporate groups,” says Haffey, “can gather around an after-dinner bonfire with cigars and brandy. Keep in mind, we’re not a B&B.”
Concierge services can arrange bourbon tours, cooking classes, mystery dinners and visits to Keeneland Racecourse and other area attractions.
Not far from Lexington down I-75 in the Richmond area, Jordan Hill Farm specializes in providing its guests with “comfort and serenity” in an original 1800s-era, two-story log home that accommodates four to 12 guests. Set on 85 acres of beautiful, rolling acreage with lush landscaping, a flowing creek and stocked ponds for catch and release, the farm also features a brand-new barn that can seat 100 for an event and a wide front porch with breathtaking views of the countryside.
Overnight accommodations include a big, fully equipped country kitchen for guests to prepare their own breakfasts. (All food for your first breakfast is provided. Then you can dive into your own provisions and cook on a spacious Garland stove or outdoors on a charcoal or gas grill.) An outdoor cleared area has a fire pit, barbecue pit and picnic tables. Miles of trails for hiking and/or horseback riding meander past the barn and through a meadow below.
At the end of the day, a porch and a deck offer swings and rocking chairs for viewing horses and hummingbirds. There is also a five-person “soft,” extra-comfy hot tub.
Joyce Green and husband Joe Foland built Jordan Hill into the retreat and event space it is today. Joyce can work with corporate groups on retreat specifics, such as optional catering. There’s free WiFi and groups can teambuild via badminton, volleyball, croquet and water guns.
Another luscious, peace-filled spot with years of experience hosting families, friends, honeymooners and corporate retreats is the historic, award-winning Maple Hill Manor Bed and Breakfast in Springfield, near Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World.
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Considered one of the best preserved antebellum homes in the commonwealth, the 1851 red-brick, Greek Revival plantation house, owned by Todd Allen and Tyler Horton, has seven elegant guest rooms with antique furnishings, some with Jacuzzis and fireplaces. Maple Hill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Kentucky Landmark – as is their other property, Bourbon Manor in Bardstown (but that’s another story!). Recent kudos include Bourbon Review Magazine’s Top Places to Stay on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and Most Romantic B&B in Kentucky, along with many national accolades.
In this stately columned, 7,000-s.f. gem, a full “country gourmet” breakfast will be served on fine china and is guaranteed filling and delicious, as Chef Tyler has won Bedandbreakfast.com’s Best Breakfast Recipe in the World Contest. In addition to its to-die-for breakfasts, Maple Hill Manor is a 15-acre working llama and alpaca farm with a store where guests can purchase soft alpaca-wool products and wooly little tabletop critters and, in season, pick apples, pears and plums from the orchard.
A meeting room seats 30, and a formal dining room accommodates 25, which can be expanded to 50 dinner guests. Lunch and dinner meals can also be served on the outdoor patio, flower garden or gazebo area, and event barn. (No llamas allowed.) The property has free WiFi and internet throughout, and teambuilding can be a hoot at a murder mystery dinner.
Tours of area attractions, such as bourbon distillery visits and tastings in nearby Bardstown, can be easily arranged. Sip to your heart’s delight, then return to a sturdy Maple Hill porch rocker to watch the sun set over fuzzy alpacas and llamas grazing on luxuriant bluegrass.
Only in Kentucky.
Katherine Tandy Brown is a correspondent for The Lane Report. She can be reached at [email protected].