A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky destination: Imagine a Castle on a hill overlooking horse country — and you can visit

Staff report

A castle? In Kentucky?

Yes, on a hill on Versailles Road outside Lexington, an impressive structure, the Castle Post comes into view — a massive walled enclosure around a massive turreted structure housing an amazing restaurant and housing open to the public.

The Castle was started in 1969 by Lexington contractor Rex Martin who never finished it. It sat empty until 2003 when Miami lawyer Tom Post bought it, rebuilt and restored it and opened it as CastlePost in 2008.

It had been on the marked for nearly seven years when a group of investors bought it last summer for $8.7 million.

The group includes two physicians, Dr. Matthew Dawson, a University of Kentucky emergency room physician, and Dr. Danny Bramer, an anesthesiologist at UK.

It sits on 55 acres, has 16 bedroooms, 17 bathrooms, tennis and basketball courts, a billiard room, a library and a large banquet room.

“Growing up in Kentucky I drove by it hundreds of times, every time wondering what in the world was in there. So, I’ll never forget the first time I actually stepped foot inside the castle walls.” says Dawson. “It was actually a castle! It wasn’t just a cardboard Hollywood prop that looked like a castle from the outside. I was super excited to host my medical conference in this amazing venue.”

A lot of people were skeptical about holding a medical conference in Kentucky, but Dawson prevailed.

“Central Kentucky is an amazing place. . .you just have to show people. The horses, bourbon, beautiful farms, and a CASTLE!”

Six years later, the conference continues to be held there.

But buying it?

“Growing up in central Kentucky (Lincoln County) the son of a firefighter/pastor and a schoolteacher I was certainly not royalty,” Dawson says. “I had to bring together several other ‘commoners’ from Kentucky as well to purchase this amazing icon. Being from Lincoln County, Oldham County, and Elliott County we emptied our couch cushions, cleaned out the change trays from our cars and combined what we found with a huge dream to purchase the castle.”

The new owners’ dream includes a working 55 acres farm to support a world class farm-to-table restaurant and boutique hotel and unique event experience.

They are already hosting at least 15 events a month from groups as small as corporate retreats of 10 to weddings as large as 500. There are private spaces to fit any group size or budget.

They plan to have sheep, chickens, and an apiary. While they wait for fruit trees and the truffle orchard to grow, they are already serving delicious farm to table dinners for overnight guests and any events that book a private space in the dining room, ballroom, music room, rooftop, or bourbon tasting room. The restaurant is open now.

The rooms have been renovated — luxuriously. Every room has a king bed, vaulted ceilings, and a level of detail to be expected of a castle. The new owners mean to make it “one of the greatest boutique hotels in the world.”

Among the rooms are those on the second level that come with a turret on the corners. Or there are chalets — two stories with balconies, stunning courtyard and farm views, pullout sofas for extra guests.

Then, there’s the food.

“We knew we had to get the food right,” says Dawson. “That was paramount. It had to be delicious, but it had to be more. As an ER doctor I see patient after patient come into the ER who are sick and hurting. No matter the diagnosis, though, it seems that the vast majority of time, 90 percent of the problems stem from or started with the food they’re eating.”

Consequently, the group hired Chef Jason Walls, “absolute artist when it comes to preparing food.” He is also passionate about growing it. Today, Chef Kim Brown joins him in preparing the food.

They purchase local food from local farmers for now. Eventually they expect to grow it all.

“We want our guests to have the best meal of their lives,” says Dawson.

In true Kentucky fashion, there are plenty of good bourbons on hand as well.

It’s not too late to plan some of your holiday activities around a trip to the Castle Post. There are brunch and dinner options for Dec. 19-23 — including a lunch with Santa for just $15 for children 12 and under. Make reservations here.

Enjoy a Murder Mystery Dinner on coming dates; on December 28, enjoy lunch with princesses and superheroes with your young friends — a Daddy/Daughter formal princess night for a magical time of dancing and dinner. What better gift for Christmas than a special, memorable adventure? Check out the schedule.

You can still book a room (or suite or chalet), from $195 and up. Amenities include all those you would expect from a top destination — and more. An onsite restaurant, focusing on farm-to-table and elegant surroundings, free WiFi in the lounge, a tennis court, non-smoking rooms, pet friendly accommodations, and more.

You can visit in January, starting the 7th — getting a tour and a taste of the new lunch and dinner winter menu.

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