Nila Nealy is a brand strategist and principal of TwentyTwo, a business consultancy specializing in brand strategy, identity and communications. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Steve, two kids, a dog, 5 koi, 2 firebelly toads and a betta fish. Nila is a lover of arts and culture, an explorer of knowledge and a student of the human condition. Find Nila at SmallerIndiana, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her personal blog, The Human Condition.
Since well before the renovations at West Baden Springs Resort, I’ve wanted to see this National Historic Landmark, a structure renowned for being a marvel. So, imagine my delight when I learned I’d won a stay at the freshly renewed hotel, courtesy of French Lick Springs Resort, Visit Indiana and SmallerIndiana!
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I had left my job in June and my husband had just resigned his position a week before I learned of the prize. There was a whole lot of chaos in our lives, and a few days to push the reset button was exactly what we needed.
We made the nearly 3 hour drive from Indianapolis on a Tuesday afternoon, staying off the Interstates and driving through small towns and rural communities that dot the Hoosier landscape. It was a good time to decompress and prepare for the sights that would be a treat to our eyes.
The first such treat was served when we passed through the arched entryway to the hotel’s brick drive. Something magical happened as we drove under the arch. We were transported from the everyday to what felt like a movie set – a fairy tale movie set. I’m pretty sure our mouths were gaping and all we said was something along the lines of “oh my…”
Our first human contact – a warm and friendly greeting from the doorman, Dan – proved to be the norm for our stay. The path to check in led us directly through the middle of the atrium topped by the magnificent 200 foot diameter dome. I couldn’t remember a thing of my real life as the awe swept all thoughts out of my head. After a warm check in, we headed to our 4th floor (of six floors) room.
The room was generously sized, appropriately decorated to reflect the grandeur of the early 1900s and featured a balcony overlooking the atrium. From the balcony, we overlooked a very large Christmas tree (yet to be lighted at the time) and could peer up to see the ever-changing disc suspended from the dome’s ceiling. While reminiscent of the history of the hotel, the room lacked no modern features, including a flat screen television, roomy shower, mini fridge and ample adjustable lighting.
After the stop in our room, we made the rounds through the entire atrium, the first floor shops (including a Harley Davidson store), the natatorium (complete with full spa, pool and large jacuzzi), several galleries, a library and the formal restaurant and cafe. A quick snack in the atrium from the lounge revealed the the BEST bread pudding with butterscotch ice cream!
We learned that there is a seemingly endless list of things to do, from horseback riding at the onsite stables and golf to shopping and gambling at French Lick Resort and Casino. Rather than go-go-go, we chose to keep our first visit low key. Having fallen in love with the domed atrium, we spent three hours simply reading in the atrium, another hour chatting in another comfortable lounge area, and a luscious amount of time lingering in the pool, jacuzzi and deck chairs of the natatorium. We did make a drive of the town of French Lick, stopping to see the train museum and stroll French Lick Springs Resort’s shopping Promenade and casino.
On our second night, we took a very short shuttle trip to the French Lick Hotel to dine at the 1875 Steakhouse. As you might expect, the menu features a variety of aged and specialty steaks as well as sides, appetizers, salads and desserts, all a la carte. Steve’s review of the 8 ounce filet mignon is two words: absolute perfection. Our server was perfectly attentive and helpful.
As a brand strategist, I was impressed with the attention to detail of the entire resort, the perfect blend of history and modern amenities, and that every employee seemed to be truly happy to be there, to serve, share interesting facts and make suggestions. It’s a brand well done. To read more about that, visit The Marketing Technology Blog.
While we didn’t pack our short trip with activities, we did get the relaxation and life reset we needed. I will definitely return. And may I suggest you consider a visit or return visit yourself?
There are numerous additional details that I’ve left out of this post. I encourage you to read about the history and renovation of this grand architectural wonder.
Enjoy some other photos from our trip below.
Editors Note: Nila Nealy received a complementary two-night stay as well as a complementary dinner from West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs Resorts for winning a contest. She was asked to write about her experiences on the trip but she was never told what she must post or that her post should reflect only positive experiences. The above posts reflects the views of Nila Nealy only. For more information, please refer to our FTC Disclaimer page.