Sweethearts of Sweets
Where are Kentucky’s priciest rooms? The ones designed for the bottomless budget? What are the amenities? Who decorated them? And who do you have to be to book a room?
In the case of at least one of the rooms, it helps to be president of the United States. During peak times, the Ashford Presidential Suite at Griffin Gate Marriott Resort in Lexington goes for a cool $1,295, plus tax, per night.
The one-bedroom suite, one of just seven suites on the hotel’s exclusive seventh floor, features a luxurious king-size poster bed, elegant bath, dining room table, wet bar, fireplace, flat-screen TV, and cozy seating area for entertaining—presumably after the Secret Service has made its security sweep through the hotel.
Besides giving safe (and sumptuous) harbor to President Bush in 2003, Kentucky’s only Mobil 4-Star and AAA 4-Diamond resort has also hosted Hollywood: Jeff Bridges and Tobey Maguire while filming Seabiscuit; Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in town to film Elizabethtown; and Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, and Kris Kristofferson for Dreamer.
A full spa, opening this spring, features seven treatment rooms for massage services; pedicures, manicures, and facials; men’s and women’s steam rooms; luxurious changing and shower rooms; and a hair salon.
Sleek, urbane, au courant—that is the new 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville, a contempo retreat and winner of Interior Design magazine’s Best of the Year 2006 award where you can have your art and sleep with it too. A collection of cutting-edge art from living artists is on exhibit in the hotel’s 5,000-square-foot atrium, a theme carried harmoniously into the 91 guest rooms, one of which is a two-bedroom riverview suite, featuring one-of-a-kind furniture designed by Debra Burke & Associates of New York City, original artwork, 42-inch plasma TVs, 500-count Egyptian cotton linens imported from Italy, and iPods customized with guests’ favorite music prior to arrival.
For romantics, the hotel’s Penguin Passion Package includes champagne, chocolate brittle, fresh strawberries, his-and-hers body massages in the spa, rose petals, flavored body dust, a DVD player with your choice of DVDs, a food and beverage credit for in-room dining or at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Proof on Main, and complimentary valet parking.
Rates vary depending on when you visit, but $999 per night is the most you would pay.
Maple Hill Manor in Springfield, near Bardstown, has a luscious Ultimate Indulgence package for $899 that includes a two-night stay, wine and hors d’oeuvres each afternoon, award-winning private country gourmet “crystal and china” breakfast each morning, and a dinner certificate each night with stretch limo service. A bottle of chilled champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries will be waiting in your room, and two one-hour massages will de-stress you. Upgrade your stay to the McElroy Honeymoon Hideaway for an additional $20.
As its name implies, the two-room Hideaway is all about romance, with a two-person Jacuzzi, fireplace, and antiques, the centerpiece of which is a cherry four-poster bed. Luxury is in the details, from the Italian tile to the 600-thread count sheets, alpaca blankets, Turkish towels, and antique European china.
“Maple Hill Manor is a wonderful, romantic setting, ideally suited to marriage proposals, honeymoons, and milestone anniversaries,” say owners Todd Allen and Tyler Horton.
Griffin Gate Marriott
Maple Hill Manor
21C Museum Hotel
State Resort Park executive cottages
Start dialing for reservations for the year 2010 now: Kentucky State Resort Park visitors may book their stays up to three years in advance—and many do.
By state resort park standards—where accommodations typically range from $59.95 (lodge room) to $219.95 (suites and cottages)— one park has some pricey digs: Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, located in Gilbertsville, not far from the 170,000-acre peninsula Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, has 10 three-bedroom, three-bath executive cottages that go for $249.95 per night on holiday weekends.
The two-story cottages, tucked into lush foliage and located near the marina, are equipped with kitchen, grill, refrigerator, and microwave—and plenty of elbow room.
For more info contact Kentucky State Parks online at www.parks.ky.gov or (800) 255-7275.
Other decadent digs
The Fitzgerald Suite at the venerable Seelbach Hilton Hotel, www.seelbachhilton.com, where the 1999 bio-thriller The Insider was filmed, features two bedrooms, large parlor area with wet bar, and three full bathrooms—and an average rate of $650-$695 a night.
The capacious five-bedroom Foxhollow Cottage at Foxhollow, www.foxhollow.com, a country getaway in rural Oldham County near Crestwood, at $550 a night may lighten your wallet but will also renew your spirits. Combine an overnight with some pampering at the spa or charming Manor House tea.
The new Triple H Stables Bed and Breakfast, www.triplehstables.net, in Woodburn, just outside of Bowling Green, has a “triple stall suite” for $349 with kitchen, dinette, exercise room, and private entrance.
The opulent George Clarke House Bed and Breakfast, www.georgeclarkehouse.com, in Lexington has the Victorianesque George and Julia Suite, featuring Ultra Thermo-Masseur jet bathtub and warm towels, for $249-$315 per night.
Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
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Sweethearts of Sweets
It was through a box of chocolates that Forrest Gump learned about the unpredictability of life. Chocolate has also enriched the lives of several Kentuckians, though in a much more profound way. In the early 1900s, the dark dessert helped three women in the Bluegrass push past social barriers to establish their own businesses during a time when feminine entrepreneurship wasn’t welcomed.
Ruth Hunt Candies of Mt. Sterling and Rebecca Ruth Candy of Frankfort illustrate what a little determination and some good chocolate can accomplish. Each business bears a history as rich as its homemade treats. And for those who are looking for a fun-filled day trip, the two candy makers provide interesting factory tours as well.
Ruth Hunt Candies began in 1921 after Hunt turned her hobby into a full-time venture. Hunt first made candy to treat fellow bridge players, but today her sweets are shipped around the world, and in Kentucky the Mt. Sterling shop proudly boasts the title of “The official candy of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.”
During Derby fever in the spring, visitors can marvel at the artwork of 25-pound chocolate spires; however, tourists are welcome to tour the factory all year. The free tours begin in the conference room where a short video (there’s one version for adults and one tailored to kids) explains candy history and processes. Then visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at candy making—from giant copper kettles in the kitchen to temperature- and humidity-controlled storage.
Ruth Hunt’s signature is the Blue Monday, a thin bar of cream candy dipped in chocolate.
“A lot of people have their own cream candy recipe, but no one put it into bar form until Ruth Hunt many years ago; so, it’s pretty unique,” says Tobby Moore, Ruth Hunt Candies manager.
Not one, but two women are founders of Rebecca Ruth in Frankfort: Rebecca Gooch and Ruth Hanly Booe. Lifelong friends, they worked as substitute teachers and shared the love of candy making. Tired of low teacher wages, the duo left education to pursue professional candy making in 1919.
Ruth Booe is credited with creating bourbon balls after a dignitary at Frankfort’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1936 remarked that the two best tastes in the world were Mrs. Booe’s candies and fine Kentucky bourbon. After two years of perfecting her recipe, Booe’s bourbon ball candy was born. Today her business makes more than 100 kinds of candy and, as a result, sells the largest variety box—32 different chocolates—says Charles Booe, company president and grandson of the late Ruth.
“We’re an old-school kind of business that is still operating— with a combination of antiquity and modern technology,” Booe says.
Booe knows firsthand that chocolate has helped many a romance blossom. He says he often hears from couples celebrating anniversaries who began their courtship many decades earlier with a gentleman’s first gift of chocolates.
And for those whose great love is chocolate itself, Kentucky’s rich candy making tradition means the courtship never has to end.
Ruth Hunt Candies factory is located at 550 N. Maysville Road in Mt. Sterling, less than a mile from Exit 110 off Interstate 64. Hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Sunday 1-5:30 p.m. For more information, call (800) 927-0302 or visit online at www.ruthhuntcandy.com.
Rebecca Ruth also offers tours, January through November, for $1 per person. Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours is located at 112 E. Second Street in Frankfort. Hours are 9 a.m.-5: 30 p.m., Monday-Saturday. For more information, call (800) 444-3766 or visit online at www.rebeccaruth.com.
Other Kentucky Candy Shops
Bauer’s Candies Inc.
1103 Dylan Drive, Lawrenceburg
Makes caramel-covered marshmallow Modjeskas.
Crabtree’s Candy Company
70 Greenway Road, Stanton
734 Highways 62 and 641, Grand Rivers
Offers a variety of candies.
Kentucky Kandy Kitchen
741 Kenton Station Road, Maysville
Features hand-rolled, dipped candies.
Leon’s Bewley Hollow Peanut Brittle
792 Bewley Hollow Road, Elizabethtown
Mom Blakeman’s Candy
209 Lexington Street, Lancaster
Makes pulled cream candy.
Mrs. Branham’s Candy Kitchen Inc.
2034 Hardwicks Creek Road, Clay City
Sweet Temptations Fudge
274 Fairway Drive, Bedford
The Lollipop Tree
311 S. Church St., Cynthiana
Offers hard candies and lollipops.
The Sweet Shoppe
100 S. Lincoln Boulevard, Hodgenville
Watson Homemade Fudge
1450 N. Third Street, Bardstown
For a list of other stores, visit the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Web site at www.kyagr.com and click on “Buy Kentucky Products,” “Country Store,” and then “Snacks/Sweets.”
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