Odds are, unless you’re taking a group of people to Kentucky for a specific job – say, to compete or to work — on the 2010 World Equestrian Games, you probably won’t be staying for the entire event.
So, you probably won’t need a house. You’ll probably be looking for a hotel.
If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider driving to what could be called “the outer boroughs” for lodging.
And you may not want to overlook hotels I call “the Mom & Pops.”
After all, you just want a place to sleep anyway. And, FWIW, you just might find some overlooked jewels.
Stay outside Lexington
Staying close to the venue in Lexington will, no doubt, cost you. After all, Louisville hoteliers charge premium rates for stays during the Kentucky Derby.
That’s why, although I love Lexington, I don’t necessarily stay there. It’s not exactly economical to begin with. Add in the world-class event? Ca-ching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because people do have a right to make a living.
But you have a right to keep some of your money, too.
How far away?
If you want to economize, get used to the idea that you will have to do some driving. Keep in mind that Louisville, Cincinnati and Somerset are all about an 1-1/2 drive from Lexington.
That leaves plenty of little towns with lodging in between.They all have motels, although maybe not full-service hotels. Beside, if you’re going to the games, you just want a place to sleep anyway.
Will these small-town hotels jack up their prices? To a certain extent, probably. But they’ll still charge less than Lexington-area hotels.
So, get a map of Kentucky and look around. I know people who travel two hours each way to commute to work every day. You can deal with a commute to attend a world-class event.
Now, you’ve got some research to do.
Do your homework
Start with the area’s chamber of commerce or department of tourism. Or just run the dates you plan to go on Kayak.com. Just keep in mind that not all hotels are listed with Kayak, especially if you’re going down the food chain like we are.
Speaking of food, if you like a bit of wine with your dinner or a cocktail to celebrate, be sure to check to see if the town you have chosen is wet or dry.
Find a likely prospect and then do a search for a website. The photos will tell you a lot. Many places can’t afford an architectural photographer who knows all the tricks.
But I will tell you that if the room has been photographed with a wide-angle lens, it will look larger. How to determine that, if you know nothing about photography? If objects in the foreground look large, the photo was shot with a wide-angle lens.
If so, then all is not lost. Do another search for guest reviews of a place. Especially check Trip Advisor for guest reviews.
If you don’t see a review, don’t think a place is not worth the effort.
But do gather as much information as possible, especially about features and amenities that the hotel has to offer.
Or not. At this level, you may not get many amenities besides a clean room.
Decide what you can live without
We all want clean rooms, air-conditioning and private baths. The rest is up for grabs. (Or maybe you’re okay with sharing a bath. Or you dislike AC.)
Do you need a fridge and a microwave in the room? Or a hotel with a business center?
But if you need Internet access, find out what that entails at the hotel in question. Is access private? It’s probably not secure, but find out the details if you need it for a financial transaction.
Also keep in mind that those little towns between the cities are often rural towns. They may not have broadband Internet or WiFi yet. And, despite the standing joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner, you won’t find that in small Kentucky towns.
If you’re flying in, you’ll need to be able to print your boarding passes for your return trip. The hotel desk clerk may be able to do that on for you on the hotel’s computer.
Or come up with a Plan B. I have used public library computers to keep in touch. Just clear the browser cookies and history afterward and be aware of the library’s schedules and hours.
Or – here’s a revolutionary thought – you could give up your connectivity for a week and have a real vacation.
The choice is yours.
One of my faves
I hesitate to write about this. You know how those “best-kept secrets” get blabbed about, and then you can’t get a table. Or a room. That’s how I feel about this place.
I’d been going into Harrodsburg, about half an hour from Lexington, for horse shows and had been looking for a place to stay convenient to the fairgrounds. My usual hotel was behind a DQ, so I wanted to be closer to, well, healthier food.
I had previously avoided staying at the Bright Leaf Golf Resort because I simply don’t play golf.
While planning my last trip, I checked out the golf resort’s website. Sure enough, they do rent rooms without the golf package. They have a restaurant and a gym on the premises. (The “gym” at my old hotel was a walk through a nearby industrial park.)
The restaurant was great for breakfast. I usually sat at a table overlooking the first tee.
I have the impression that the rooms vary. My room was in the front motel-like area facing the US highway. With the AC on, it was quiet. Yes, the decor was dated, kind of early ’80s, but I was rarely in the room.
I did enjoy the convenience of a room fridge and microwave. The bed was comfortable, even though I tend to have a sensitive back. The pool wasn’t open in early May, but every evening, gas grills magically appeared around the pool so that guests could cook their own, if they wanted.
A note about Bright Leaf
Many women traveling along might find this odd, so I’ll mention it. Except for the women on the service staff, who first thought I was odd for traveling solo, this was a largely male environment.
Bright Leaf seems to be a big “buddy trip” destination. I kept my ears open and heard a lot of buzz around the complex about what an economical deal it was. Yet, it was quiet.
More women showed up toward the weekend, so I didn’t look so out-of-place. (I’ve worked in male-dominated careers over the years, so it’s no big deal to me.) Plus, the women servers started anticipating my breakfast order and bringing me eggs and toast the way I’d been ordering it.
So, the service and staff are friendly and eager to help. And the rooms were a bargain.