How to spend a 60th birthday? Crying? Laughing? Well I guess the best idea is to just enjoy with family and friends. We arrived in Indianapolis a few days ago. So I did just that. We ate and laughed and celebrated. Krissy made a wonderful trifle of white chocolate and lemon mousse with strawberries. It was scrumptious and we all pigged out!!
Just a few days ago, as we were on our way across country, Jerry asked where I'd like to have a "birthday stop." I remembered that an old favorite place of mine recently received a new and exciting face. So we took a few red highways and had a pleasant two day stopover in French Lick, a small community on highway 56 in the rolling hills of southwestern Indiana.
There you will find the renovated French Lick Springs Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel. My personal history in French Lick dates to planning conventions from the 1970s to the 1990s. But the history of the resorts dates to 1901. French Lick Springs Resort and its neighboring West Baden Hotel were world-class hotels that were very popular destinations in the early 1900s for celebrities and wealthy. Al Capone, Joe Louis, Clark Gable,senators, mayors and many others came on the train to drink the legendary mineral water that cured all ailments or to frequent the casinos that were operating in the valley. The story of these unique hotels is interesting in many ways.
Here's a replica of a 1901 postcard that explains the attraction of the Pluto Spring Water at the French Lick Hotel. (Click on the picture if you'd like to read more.) And the next photo gives an example of
the gold leaf and paintings restored in the hotel's lobby.
The West Baden Hotel has a six-story, 3,000 sq. ft, dome atrium that was the largest in the world until the Houston Astrodome was built in the 60s. Suffice it to say, that as happens in many cases, times changed and these grand old ladies both suffered ups and downs. West Baden's resort went through several owners and in the 80s was shut down completely. We have a shot here of the photo in the hotel's lobby in ruins a few years ago. About three years ago a wealthy Indiana family decided to invest in these historic landmarks. After $500,000,000 in sprucing up they are beautiful once again. And a casino was a part of the additions.
The Spas are welcoming guests for massages, soothing baths, pedicures and wraps. The casino games are flashing and clanking. The restaurants, pools and rooms are all sporting upgrades. But, also, the rocking chairs that were always a popular feature are still gracing the front porch at the French Lick Resort. The 3,000 square foot atrium of the West Baden Hotel that was literally crumbling and in danger of collapsing is once again awesome!
We were welcomed by a manager to park our motorhome in the parking lot just next to the golf course. A perfect spot, quiet and nice view.
The grounds of the hotels are about one mile apart and offer great scenery for a walk. The tours of the facilities are an interesting way to spend about 90 minutes. It was nice to see an oldie looking so fresh as I take this step into my next , and even better, phase of my life.