VERSAILLES — Charles Martin isn't easily wowed. As general manager of CastlePost, Woodford County's iconic structure, Martin is in and out of the castle every day. But when more than a dozen area interior designers, landscape professionals and garden club members finish working their Christmas magic at the luxury inn, "it really is spectacular," Martin said this week.
The three-day CastlePost Christmas Tour extravaganza opens Saturday. Rooms on the first and second floors — including the grand foyer, the music room, ballroom, library, dining room and three bedroom suites — will be decorated.
Proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army's emergency shelter for homeless women and children. Over the past three years, tours at the castle have raised more than $142,000 for the Salvation Army, said the organization's Major Debra Ashcraft.
"We have more rooms and more decorators taking part this year. Every year the event grows," she said.
Rooms were scheduled to be decorated Wednesday and Thursday. But Alex McClanahan was an early bird. She had a four-room Majestic Suite on the second floor finished by Tuesday afternoon. Posts on the canopy bed were draped in red and green tulle. Elegantly wrapped packages of all sizes were stacked on chairs, tables and the bed, giving the room a look like Santa Claus had just unloaded his sleigh.
In case the Jolly Ol' Elf wanted to celebrate a bit, there was a lovely bottle of Champagne sitting nearby.
A few bedroom suites away, Ashley Bruggeman with the Junior League of Lexington had just hauled in six Christmas trees and was still taking stock of her surroundings. The league had "tons" of decorations used for its Holly Day Market, Bruggeman said. The plan was to use those decorations at the castle.
"Unfortunately, our colors for the market are hot pink and lime green. When we saw this room, we had to change our ideas," she said of the space, which has a masculine feel with dark colors and a massive bed.
Her idea? "This is going to be Santa's bedroom. This all came to me at midnight last night," she said, laughing. She had to buy a bathrobe for Santa and was getting towels monogrammed with "SC." "I can't decide if he should have Champagne or hot chocolate," she said.
CastlePost owner Thomas Post will be at the Christmas tour all three days to greet guests and welcome them to his castle. "He likes to tell castle stories, talk about the history of castles in Europe and castle architecture," Martin said.
A tax appeal attorney in Miami, Post grew up in Lexington, graduated from Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky College of Law. He bought the castle in 2003. It had been started in the 1970s by developer Rex Martin. Post comes to Lexington about every two weeks, Martin said.
The castle has 50 rooms and 16 bedrooms. It it operated as a bed and breakfast and is popular for parties, weddings and other special events. Post donates the whole facility one weekend a month to different charities to use to raise money.