A Fairy Tale Getaway Not So Far, Far Away at French Lick Resort

By+Kathy Jonas

 

We all yearn for a simpler life, but at French Lick Resort you actually get it.

You can put the cell phone in your suitcase and leave the laptop back at the office. Picture yourself sitting (remember that?) in a rocking chair on a big white veranda sipping an iced tea and feeling a light summer breeze. 

Not only do you transport yourself to a simpler time, but you enjoy a world-class resort that features the championship Pete Dye Golf Course. The resort was named one of Condé Nast Traveler’s top 121 golf resorts in the world and number two among golf resorts in the northern United States (one spot above the American Club at Kohler, Wis.) 

ABC’S Diane Sawyer took her mom to West Baden and said everyone in America should see it.

The domed atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel (located just a mile from the French Lick Hotel property) is a National Historic Landmark built in 1902 and once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Today’s West Baden is a luxury European-style hotel brought back to its former glory thanks to a $500 million renovation of the entire French Lick property by the Bloomington Cook family. The renovated French Lick Springs Hotel and Casino opened in 2006 and West Baden opened in May, 2007. 

Dyan Duncan, public relations manager at French Lick, said people claim that once they hit the two-lane road heading to the resort, it feels like stepping back in time and the chaos of life just slips away. “You can choose to do a lot or do nothing,” Duncan said referring to both the rocking chair/ice cream cone scenario or the fast-paced casino or mountain-biking experience. 

The resort is only 90 minutes southwest of Indianapolis.

Duncan said West Baden is the preferred, intimate destination for couples and French Lick Springs Hotel is the popular choice for families and groups. West Baden has 243 rooms and French Lick has 443 rooms.

Both have spas that pamper and are guaranteed to erase the stress that is making life a little too crazy and fast-paced.

Duncan said there are four swimming pools on the property, two at each hotel. West Baden features a two-level natatorium with a 12,000 square-foot indoor pool and an 8,000 square-foot outdoor pool. The outdoor pool has a view that is breathtaking and expansive, yet the size is small enough to be intimate and inviting.

You can’t help but feel yourself relax as you enjoy a drink poolside and take in the southern Indiana rolling hills.

 

A LEGENDARY GOLF EXPERIENCE

The golfing experience is varied and unusual, too, with the award-winning Dye course, the legendary Donald Ross course, a nine-hole introductory course for beginners and a new Jasper course recently purchased by the resort. Pete Dye is the gold standard for modern golf course design and Donald Ross represents the pinnacle of classic golf course architecture. The combination gives the resort an unmatched spectrum of top flight golf experiences.

In March 2012, the resort was awarded its second silver medal by GOLF Magazine. “French Lick is the only resort in the world that combines the classic history of the Donald Ross and the modern day design of the Pete Dye,” according to Indiana Golf News. “This combination is a spectacular opportunity for golfers to experience two of the best golf course designers with great gaming,” the magazine continued.

The Dye course, the site of the 2010 PGA Professionals National Championship, was built into the southern Indiana hills to create a golf experience like no other in the state or the Midwest. It is located at one of the highest points in Indiana (with views of more than 40 miles at some points) and features rugged terrain, narrow fairways and challenging bunkers.

The Ross course was the site of the 1924 PGA championship won by Walter Hagan. 

Duncan said a stay at West Baden guarantees an advanced tee time at the Dye course, which is one of the perks of a reservation at the renovated hotel.

 

A PART OF HISTORY

Historically, West Baden was known for its architectural dome - which until the construction of the Houston Astrodome was the largest free-standing glass and steel dome in the world. Al Capone and other notable celebrities such as the Vanderbilts and Helen Keller, were guests. Today, it features six circular stories with 246 guest rooms and suites, including 40 spacious rooms that overlook the spectacular atrium.

Condé Nast raved about the Egyptian cotton sheets, one-bedroom suites with iron beds and leather-topped tables, artwork from vintage postcards and embroidered silk bolsters (pillows).

Prior to its renovation, the building had a long history of uses and had fallen into disrepair. It was once a Jesuit seminary.

The French Lick property also has a fascinating history. It was built in 1845 to take advantage of the Pluto Springs mineral waters located there and was designed to resemble the great mineral spas of Europe. Today its rooms include high speed internet, flat screen televisions and premium bedding. Despite its historic charm, the amenities are modern.

 

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

French Lick added a 42,000 square foot Las Vegas-style casino in 2006. The property boasts a six-lane bowling alley, horseback riding , carriage rides and more than 30 miles of hiking trails. 

The Spa at French Lick still offers treatments from the historic mineral water springs called “Pluto Tub Treatments”, which have been offered as a health tonic dating back to 1845. The Aromatherapy Pluto Bath adds Zents brand oils in various fragrances. Modern spa treatments are also available.

Duncan said mountain biking has grown in popularity over the last several years. The resort offers eight miles of trails and bike rentals. Tandem bikes and other bikes are available for rental. “It is a great way to see the 3,000 acres of property,” Duncan said.

Both properties offer a total of 12 different restaurants. Sinclair’s is the upscale facility at West Baden and 1875 is the French Lick Steakhouse. 

Children’s activities are offered year round. Duncan said they offer supervised adventure sessions that could include a kid’s cooking class, a mini spa experience for girls, a session at the stables or biking. She said this gives Mom and Dad a chance to golf or do something relaxing on their own while the kids have a good time and are safe. “We don’t want you to have guilt. You need time to relax but you also want to spend time with your kids,” she said.