Friday, September 20, 2013

Hidden in the Midwest-Part 1

     For many years we had talked about visiting French Lick, Indiana. My parents had been there several times, the hotels looked amazing and the history surrounding them sounded very interesting to us. It is less than 3 hours from our home and this week, we finally made the trip. Hint: We went for 2 nights (Sun., Mon.) to take advantage of our first senior (ugh) rate. They offer an over 55 package that includes $55 to spend in the hotel along with a reduced room price. Today I will show you the French Lick Resort, where we stayed. My next post will give you a tour of the West Baden resort, the sister hotel, located a mile away with a shuttle between the 2. The first thing we saw was the beautiful front porch of our hotel. We spent quite a bit of time out here, rocking and people watching.

     Entering the lobby, I realized that the pictures I had seen did not do it justice. Originally built in 1845 by Dr. William Boles, the hotel was built to bring people from the surrounding area to partake of the water from the sulfur springs that were on the grounds. The water was said to have miracle powers and people drank it, bathed in it and were convinced it healed all ills. After a fire, various expansions and several owners, the mayor of Indianapolis, Tom Taggart, bought the property in 1901 and turned it into an international, elegant destination that was visited by many of the rich and famous of that time.

     The guest list (and pictures currently on the walls) show visits by Clark Gable, Joe Louis, Bing Crosby, the Trumans, Elizabeth Taylor, the Reagans, Joe and Rose Kennedy and many others. It was also here, in 1917, that tomato juice was created and first served.

This picture was taken from inside the hotel
out into the courtyard area.
The grounds at both hotels are beautiful.

     We had a first floor room, by request. They were extremely nice to us from the moment we got out the car. The training of the staff is obvious as each person greets you warmly and offers to help in any way. Our room was lovely. It is a little smaller than newer hotels, but not at all too small. The furnishings are all new and updated, but hints of the past do show in the details. The crown molding in the room was gorgeous, the bathroom was large and had huge window sills (reminded me of an old school window) and the doors to the room still had the space where the transom window had once been.

I was surprised by how wide the hallways are.
You don't see that in today's hotels.

The indoor pool was gorgeous.

The outdoor pool was smaller, but still very nice.

I found this part of the hotel very interesting.
You could walk through a tunnel where
the walls were the original
foundation of the hotel.

At the end of the tunnel,
was this tiny 6 lane bowling alley.
You had to know the old school
way of keeping score to play here.
     The Pluto Spring Water is what made the French Lick Resort famous. Today, they have a beautiful spa with many elegant services. One of the things you can do is soak in a tub of the famous mineral water.
     This is the original Pluto Water Spring. Inside you can see words along the upper rim. It says, "While here take our Mineral Baths. What nature won't, Pluto will. America's Greatest Laxative." You can certainly smell the sulfur in the water when you get anywhere near this spring.
     As you can see from the pictures, much of the building looks to me like an old hospital from the outside. It is very bland in some places and then there are surprises like the gilded roof on this part of the building. The inside is entirely different.

I loved finding wonderful architectural
surprises as we wandered around the hotel.
     This hotel also has a relatively new casino attached to it as well as a convention center. The casino was fun (it had a smoke free room) and even though we are not big spenders at all, it provided some fun entertainment each evening. There is also a winery that is part of the resort. It is located near the West Baden hotel and we went there for a late lunch when we arrived on Sunday.
     The winery is in an old factory and while I have certainly seen prettier buildings, the inside was quite nice. The restaurant serves Italian food and everything we saw leaving the kitchen looked great. I sampled a few of the wines and they were delicious.

     We ordered a pizza and it was perfect. In fact, it was the best food we had the entire three days. I will talk more about the food in the next post. Suffice it to say that there had to be a down side...right? There are several shops in the hotel with everything from upscale clothing, candy, gifts and jewelry. You never really need to leave the property. I can only imagine how beautiful this hotel must be when it is decorated for Christmas. We are looking forward to going back on a weekend when there are more activities going on and music in several locations. It was nice to be there during the week though, it was quiet and not crowded. Another plus was that being there on a senior rate, we were just about the youngest people there!


Rettabug said...

What a beautiful get-away destination, Sue! I'll have to google map it to see just how far it is from us.
You KNOW I would ♥♥♥ that Gazebo!!!

Thanks for taking us along on your trip.

Barbara F. said...

This place looks gorgeous, Sue. I would love to spend a few days there to relax and unwind. xo

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

It looks amazing! I love the big veranda! Thats where you would find me sitting!! Beautiful pictures, thanks!

Traci said...

What a pretty place!! That pizza looks amazing.