This post is the first in a series of three “French Lick is…” posts. I recently had the opportunity to travel to the French Lick Springs and West Baden Hotels as a guest of the resort and the Indiana Landmarks Foundation. It won’t be my last trip there.
Girls getaways. Guys weekends. They both mean the same thing — time to unwind with other grown ups who make us happy. The French Lick resort has all the makings of a terrific getaway weekend:
A few weeks ago, my friend Maureen and I finagled our schedules to head to French Lick for an overnight. We’d been invited to take the Indiana Landmarks Foundation “Twilight Tour” of the West Baden Hotel. When we arrived at the resort, we parked the car in the free covered parking and headed toward the entrance.
I hadn’t been to French Lick for about 10 years — long before its recent renovation. Since my last visit, in addition to the hotel upgrades, a casino has been added to the grounds. I was a little worried that the presence of the casino would take away from the charm and the beauty of the grand old hotel. It turns out there was no need to worry. Other than seeing the entrance to the casino as we walked from the parking garage to the lobby of the French Lick Springs hotel, it was unobtrusive — easy to get to if you want to go there, but not glaringly in your face if that doesn’t interest you.
The lobby of the French Lick Springs Hotel was beautiful, far more ornate than I remembered. Just being in the lobby gave me the sense that I was somewhere special.
Our first stop — our room for the night — could have put an end to our adventure right there. The beds were so comfortable that once we sunk ourselves into them, I was tempted to stay there for the rest of the night. A whole bed to myself, with no threat of a small child climbing in halfway through the night. That’s practically a mother’s definition of heaven.
It was hunger that drove us from the room and to The Grande Colonnade Restaurant, where meals are served buffet-style, with prime rib cooked to your specifications and a made-to-order pasta bar are also available. The price per person for dinner was just around $20.
After dinner, we took the trolley shuttle from French Lick Springs to the West Baden Hotel for the “Twilight Tour.”
The folks at the Indiana Landmarks Foundation did a great job introducing us to characters who visited West Baden Springs between 1902 and 1932. We “met” the unsinkable Molly Brown, Helen Keller, golf star Walter Hagen, and mobster Big Jim Colosimo. One character we caught a glimpse of several times, but did not actually meet was the former Mrs. John Jacob Astor IV, who fled to West Baden to escape public scrutiny in New York.
Twilight Tours will begin again in May 2011. You can sign up for Indiana Landmarks’ free e-newsletter to keep updated by clicking here.
After the Twilight Tour, Maureen and I decided to make the short walk from the West Baden Hotel to the French Lick Springs Hotel. Upon our return, we popped in to the Power Plant Bar for a drink. Although it was after 9:30pm, the watering hole was quite busy with people enjoying food, drink and live music.
If we’d had more time to spend at French Lick Springs, we would have taken advantage of the spa services. Though now considered aesthetic and relaxing, the spas at French Lick and West Baden were once sought out for their medicinal properties, as people believed that the waters from the sulphur springs could cure over 50 ailments from alcoholism to pimples to “female complaints.”
Two other activities that make the French Lick Resort a perfect destination for a girls getaway or a guys weekend are the shops located in both hotels and three golf courses, including one designed by famed course designer Pete Dye. Beyond typical hotel gift shop fare, more than a dozen shops and boutiques on site offer items ranging from apparel to jewelry to bath and body items. Links lovers can hit the Pete Dye course, the Donald Ross course or the 9-hole Valley Links course.
Spa and golf packages, as well as other packages, are available for both hotels.