Sleep in a glammed-up barn suite with goats at this Berea inn

If you are lucky enough to be overnighting in the Lavender Suite at the Inn at Nicura Ranch, and find yourself unable to sleep, don’t bother counting sheep.

Count goats instead. It shouldn’t be taxing as there are only two – Cinnamon and Ginger – but watching their antics through the suite’s large glass window which overlooks their barn stall is all the entertainment you’ll need.

“These twin girls are our divas,” says Laura Parente-Comsa, who owns Nicura Ranch with her husband, Nick Comsa. “I tell everyone that if they were people, they would be sitting in a hot tub with cigarette holders and glasses of champagne.”

I confess to voyeuristic tendencies during my stay at this quiet inn. Even when the ‘girls’ were slumbering themselves, I couldn’t stop watching them.

The Ranch’s two resident goats, Cinnamon and Ginger, are fun to watch.

The Inn at Nicura Ranch is just what its name indicates – an inn whose three suites (two more are in the planning stages) are in a glammed-up barn on a working ranch in the foothills of Berea’s Cumberland Mountains.

The kind of place where nursing a cup of coffee by a fire pit on a cool spring morning and gazing across mist-shrouded mountains and horse pastures (home to Bubba B, Vanilla Beans and Lady DeVille, a great-great granddaughter of Secretariat) is a zen experience.

The three horses at the ranch - Bubba B, Lady DeVille and Vanilla Beans.

It’s the kind of place where you feel absolutely no guilt in doing nothing but laze around and soak in the scenery. At least, I didn’t, although I did rouse myself enough to take a brief hike on one of the trails surrounding the ranch.

And it’s a place that, despite having no restaurant, has a robust epicurean component for amenities.

Not surprising, considering that before they relocated to Kentucky and bought the ranch, Nick was a Fort Lauderdale-based restaurateur and the couple are committed foodies.

Let’s start with the ice cream. They make their own, offering an array of flavors. Vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, coffee and salted caramel are on the menu all year, along with two special flavors that capture the personalities of the resident animals.

The Lady Bird muffin is one of the three homemade muffins named for Nicura Ranch horses.

“Goat Crazy has ginger and cinnamon and is full of nuts,” says Laura, “while Thoroughbred is a mixture of chocolate, peanut butter and salted caramel.”

Additionally, she offers two other specials that change with the seasons. As my visit was in the spring, I could choose between strawberry and honey. I tried the latter, and relished every slurpy, creamy bite of the sweet concoction.

Other thoughtful touches include complimentary bourbon and homemade biscotti every evening in the section of the barn called the gallery – the same place where every morning guests can enjoy Laura’s homemade muffins.

Complimentary evening bourbon at Nicura Ranch.
Guests enjoy bourbon and homemade biscotti every evening, if they are so inclined.

“I take special pride in the muffins,” she says, “as each of the three rotating muffins honors one of the horses.”

The Lady Bird muffin, a salty and spicy blend of caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon, matches the look and personality of the spirited Lady DeVille.

The Bubba B muffin has a deep chocolate base, made from brown sugar and coffee, matching its namesake’s dark bay coloring. Chocolate chips are added to the mix, making the muffin as over-the-top and easy to love as the horse.

The buttery vanilla muffin named for the palomino quarter horse Vanilla Beans.

The muffin Laura created in honor of palomino quarter horse, Vanilla Beans, is a buttery vanilla concoction dusted with powdered sugar to make it as sweet as he is.

If the muffins aren’t enough to satisfy your morning hunger, fresh eggs from their chickens are placed in the kitchens of the Lavender and Rose Suites. The third suite, Sunflower, doesn’t have a kitchen.

If guests want something to nosh on in their suite, they can go to the inn’s website and check out the list of curated items that Laura will gladly whip up and deliver right to the room.

Two of the signature flavors of ice cream at the Inn at Nicura Rance are Goat Crazy and Thoroughbred. Gaat Crazy is named after their goats, Ginger and Cinnamon. “Like our girls, the spicy ice cream is full of nuts,” the owners say. The Thoroughbred is a chocolate peanut butter ice cream with hints of caramel.

The most requested is her Key Lime Pie, which “for two years in a row, was named Best Key Lime Pie in Broward County (Florida),” Nick says proudly.

“It’s really a simple recipe,” insists Laura. “It’s crucial that you have key limes, but other than that it’s just egg yolks and sweet condensed milk.”

Since they don’t serve dinner, the couple directs guests to several of Berea’s restaurants. Nick is especially keen on Honeysuckle, located in the former Churchill Weavers building.

“Coming from South Florida, I was pleasantly surprised at the sophisticated level of the food the restaurant offers,” he says, noting favorites such as the deep-fried frogs’ legs with a house-made spicy maple glaze; a coffee encrusted Berkshire pork chop with collard greens and goat cheese mashed potatoes, and pan-seared trout with onions, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, green onions and chow chow.

Pork chops are a favorite menu item at Berea’s Honeysuckle Restaurant located in the former Churchill Weaver’s building.

After dinner, guests can retreat to the ranch for a bourbon nightcap in front of the fire pit.

And, if they’re lucky, fall asleep next to twin goats.

The Inn at Nicura Ranch

Where: 735 S. Dogwood Drive, Berea

Phone: 859-208-6240

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