Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Old Glory Gets a Facelift; West Baden Closed Select Dates for Roof Repair

Who can forget the sad sight of the West Baden Springs Hotel's crumbling wall in 1996? The wall collapse, most likely the result of water infiltration on the roof level, brought much-needed attention to the plight of the once-glorious lady.

You might have followed the 560 million dollar restoration of both French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs Hotels—the largest historic restoration project in Indiana history and one of the largest privately-funded preservation projects in the United States. 
The project culminated on May 23, 2007, when the hotel welcomed guests again for the first time in 75 years. What a glorious day for all involved!

As caretakers of the world-famous dome, once dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World", we have committed to maintaining the integrity of the structure. As such, maintenance work will need to be done, making the hotel unavailable to guests for a short period of time.

A roof project is underway now and will result in the hotel being unavailable on the following dates:

4pm • November 9 through 11am • November 14
4pm • November 18 through 11am • November 21
4pm • November 23 through 11am • November 26
4pm • November 30 through 11am • December 5

We appreciate your understanding and support!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rookwood Pottery at West Baden Springs Hotel

There’s something about the atrium at night. The center medallion glows softly, lazily shifting from blue to green to pink, orange and back again to blue. Flashes pop in the dim light – like at a red carpet event. From the “paparazzi” with their Canons to the tourists and their smart phones, this is probably the most photographed area in the state. If the atrium is the lead in this production, without a doubt the Best Supporting Actress in a Feature Presentation is the Rookwood Pottery fireplace at West Baden Springs Hotel. 

Rookwood Pottery fireplace at West Baden Springs Hotel

Highly collectible American art pottery, Rookwood began producing clay pieces that were as pretty as they were useful in 1880 under the direction of Maria Longworth Nichols Storer. Longworth recruited craftsmen from all over the world to incorporate a sophisticated flare to the Rookwood brand making it stand apart from other American companies. In 1902, Rookwood expanded production to include architectural features and installations can be found all over the country, including the Rathskeller Room at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, the Vanderbilt Hotel and Grand Central Station both in New York City and one entire neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. In 1917, Lillian Sinclair Rexford Cooper commissioned the fireplace for the atrium as part of her “Roman-Pompeiian court” themed renovation.


Hotel in the distance
As you might imagine, this isn’t a run of the mill hearth/mantle combo. Standing an impressive 19 feet long and 11 feet high with a seven foot-long firebox for burning 14 foot logs, this fireplace is just the design element needed to bring warmth, both literally and visually, to the vast space under the dome. Made entirely of Rookwood Pottery, the surround, hearth and over-mantle is an intricately depicted landscape of West Baden Springs, Indiana complete with a detailed replica of the hotel. The clay is silky and smooth, like soap, with vibrant hues that leap off the mantle-less “canvas.” In the upper right section is the hotel’s mascot, Sprudel. He appears to be surveying the land and “willing” the mineral waters to flow into the town.

Sprudel watching from above
It is a complex design and it would have been tricky to mold, glaze and fire that many pieces. George Hibben, director of stein sales for Rookwood, said,"The craftsmanship of the master's work was remarkable considering the lack of control previously. Especially given their size. Now we have computerized kilns.”

According to Riley Humler, Antiques Roadshow appraiser and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Rookwood Pottery, the fireplace at West Baden Springs Hotel “is probably the largest fireplace Rookwood ever built.” Humler has said that the specificity of the piece and its geocentricity to this area would not necessarily detract from the value because of the fireplace’s “grand scale and that it is such a prime example of what [Rookwood] has done over the years.” Not that we would ever sell but Humler estimates it to be worth anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.

All in three dimensions, words cannot adequately describe just how phenomenal a work of art this fireplace is. Fans of American art pottery will not want to miss seeing the fireplace at French Lick Resort’s West Baden Springs Hotel in person.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

West Baden Dishes up a Doggie Menu

Chef Ethan Smith
As the chef of the Four-Diamond West Baden Springs Hotel, Ethan Smith is used to accommodating special requests from discerning guests.

So when the request came in for a filet mignon, he didn't blink an eye - until he learned the steak was for a hotel guest who refused to use utensils and lacked a few table manners, especially when it came to slopping up his food. Yes, the high-end entrée was for a beloved dog that was staying in the pet-friendly hotel.

Frequent guest Bo, the chocolate lab, loved getting his half pounder every time he visited, and Truman, the Newfoundland, had a pretty regular craving for bacon. Chef Ethan had all the inspiration he needed to develop an in-room doggie dining menu.

While keeping the pets’ nutritional needs in mind, he began making the meals by using the same ingredients found in some of the favorite entrées among hotel guests. A pet owner himself, Chef Ethan tested his canine creations on his dog Budias.

Doggie Dining options include Bo's Burger (left),
Moses' Meatloaf, Fish Cakes, Steak à la Pooch
and Scooter's Biscuits.

Like any good local menu, he wanted to pay tribute to the "regulars" by naming dishes after them. Moses' meatloaf includes ground turkey, red rice, peas and carrots while Truman keeps it simple with Applewood Smoked Bacon. There's also fish cakes and the traditional doggie biscuit—homemade, of course.

Maddie enjoying the Chicken à la Pooch
A Jack Russell rescue named Maddie was the first "official guest" to order up a bedside meal choosing the ;Chicken à la Pooch with grilled chicken east, pumpkin puree and fresh parsley (to aid in digestion). The gourmet entrée was a welcome surprise for the pooch who hadn't cared much for traditional dog food following an injury and mandatory cone collar. She had absolutely no problem licking this bowl clean and gave it a tail-wagging endorsement.

"We’re happy to offer this extension of our customer service to our four-legged friends,” said Smith. “In today’s world, pets are considered just like family in many households. When they go on vacation, the owners expect their pets to receive the same travel experience as they would.”

West Baden Springs Hotel features 15 pet-friendly rooms in its collection of 243 rooms. If you would like to book a stay for you and your canine companion, call our reservations specialists at (888) 936-9360.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jazz Under the Dome

Miles Davis & Dizzy Gillespie
at the French Lick Jazz Festival by Duncan Schiedt
With big names like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman, French Lick’s Jazz Festival (1958-1960) brought notoriety to the small Indiana town. The three day festivals, produced by Newport Jazz founder George Wein, drew more than 20,000 people. The jam-packed line-up included jazz all-stars who played in both indoor and outdoor venues, including an 800 seat amphitheater on the 18th fairway of the Valley Links Course.

David Baker leading
the French Lick Orchestra
by Duncan Schiedt
It’s amazing to think that for the top ticket of $4.75, first year attendees were treated to a line-up of Gene Krupe, Eddie Condon, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. In doing research for this story, we discovered that live recordings of the 1958 festival exist on ConcertVault.com    

Unfortunately, the turbulent times of that era forced concert organizers to pull the plug on the 1960 festival before it got off the ground. Luckily for us, the legacies of those Midwest jazz festivals still live on and French Lick is often noted in the musicians’ memoirs!

Sarah Stivers performing in
the West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium
In more recent history, Sarah Stivers Productions has brought jazz back to the property named “Best Historic Resort” by Historic Hotels of America. Whether she is performing herself or bringing in quartets from Louisville, Indianapolis and the like, jazz is available every weekend throughout the year.

Now we are excited to announce a new musical offering, Jazz Under the Dome, a full weekend of jazz vignettes in the West Baden Springs Hotel August 22-24.  Ease into the day with breakfast infused with light jazz by Craig Wagner; grab a rocking chair on the veranda overlooking the garden and relax with the Rob Dixon Group or catch late night jazz in the library with the Jamey Aebersold Quartet. In all, there will be over 21 hours of musical entertainment available throughout the weekend and best of all, there’s no cover charge!

Jazz Under the Dome artists include:

Jamey Aebersold
Saturday, August 23 • 9pm-Midnight
West Baden Springs Library

Aebersold has made enormous contributions to the jazz world through his tireless efforts as a performer, educator and publisher. In 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed the saxophonist a Jazz Masters award.

After Hours Quartet
Friday, August 22 • 9pm-Midnight
West Baden Springs Library

One of Evansville’s premier groups for over 20 years, After Hours offers the best in jazz and pop standards. You can expect to hear Ellington, Gershwin and Porter mixed with the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

Rob Dixon
Saturday, August 23 • 1pm-4pm
West Baden Springs Veranda

Often referred to as the “Musical Mayor of Indianapolis” Dixon’s style is both respectful of tradition and free with expression. He has played with legendary artists such as the Count Basie Band, Tony Bennett, and The Ellington Band as well as Slide Hampton, Dakota Stanton, Rufus Reid, Akira Tana and Jonah Jones.

Mike Lucas Trio
Friday, August 22 • 5pm-9pm
West Baden Springs Atrium

Lucas’ primary style of music is jazz/swing standards, but other styles are offered as well. Mike has performed with Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Natalie Cole and many others.

Sarah Stivers
Saturday, August 23 • 5pm-9pm
West Baden Springs Atrium

As the house musician for the French Lick Resort, Stivers has standing gigs in the West Baden Spring Hotel Atrium and in the Power Plant Bar & Grill. Though she has been labeled a pop singer, a jazz vocalist and a cabaret chanteuse, Sarah considers herself a “musical chameleon.” Call it what you will but with a voice that's clean, sexy and "buttery smooth," she is definitely a guest favorite.

Her repertoire includes music from Mozart to Maroon 5 and she leads four different-sized bands that play disco, big band, cabaret-style, rock & roll, jazz, Broadway, Motown, country, classical, 70s music, bluegrass and show tunes. 

Craig Wagner
Saturday, August 23  & Sunday, August 24 • 9am -11am
Sinclair’s Restaurant

From performing Rhapsody in Blue a featured soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to touring and recording with platinum-selling rock band Days of the New, Craig Wagner is recognized as one of the most versatile guitarists on the scene today.



Concert Vault Links



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Elevate Your Expectations

When you spend 75% of your time traveling for your job, it can quickly become a nuisance.

Joe Kallal
VP of Sales
Just ask Joe Kallal. An avid golfer, Kallal is even dreading an upcoming business trip to Vegas that includes golf. “Everything in Vegas is a hassle; we have to be shuttled off the strip just to play golf. After security checkpoints, layovers and huge hotel complexes, the last thing I want to do is get on a bus just to play a round of golf.” 

French Lick Airport serves a variety of
private, charter, corporate, and small commercial flights.

That’s why Joe and his buddies think French Lick Resort is the ultimate man-cation destination. “I have earned the right to be spoiled,” joked Kallal. Spoiled to him is being able to fly by private plane straight into the French Lick Airport, being picked up by hotel staff and being on the Pete Dye Course, with beer-in-hand, in less time than it would have taken him to fly commercially  from his home in Raleigh, NC.

West Baden Springs Hotel voted one of the
Best Places to Stay in the World by Conde' Nast Traveler.

With the West Baden Springs Hotel as their “base of operations,” the guys can golf all they
want on the prestigious Pete Dye Course and the historic, but equally challenging, Donald Ross Course; visit the High Limits area at the French Lick Casino, grab a massage and eat til their hearts content at any one of the resort’s dozen dining venues.

Table One, an exclusive in-kitchen Chef's Table

The guys particularly enjoy the exclusivity of Table One, an in-kitchen chef’s table with Versace dinnerware and personal attention from Chef Ethan Smith.

Has your mind drifted off to planning your own golf getaway? Our Concierge can make arrangements with the French Lick Airport, or even help you charter a plane for a larger group. Grab your clubs and be here before you know it!