A Winter Weekend at French Lick Resort

A Winter Weekend at French Lick Resort

Imagine a massive resort spanning two properties, covering 3,200 acres.  Two resort hotels each reminiscent of a bygone era, both having been restored back to their heyday of their beginnings in the early 1900s.  Opulence is prominently displayed throughout the resort while coupled with modern day amenities. French Lick Resort is the perfect marriage of an old world resort experience with contemporary comforts.

About the Springs:  How the Resort Got Its Beginnings

In the mid-1800s nearby mineral springs were discovered to have “healing properties” by a local doctor.  By the early 1900s, two hotels were built to accommodate the many guests coming to town for their chance to experience these magic springs.  So many visitors were coming from the Chicago area specifically that a direct train route between Chicago, Illinois and French Lick, Indiana was built just for this! 

Years later, it was found that these “magic waters” in fact contained lithium and were no longer deemed safe for human consumption!

The properties changed hands many times throughout the 20th century until they were finally in the hands of the Cook family.  They committed to restoring the resort back to its glory days which lifted the depressed economy in the area and breathed brand new life into the resort. 

About The French Lick Resort Today

Today, the French Lick Resort is comprised of the two original properties:  The French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel.  Together, these form what is known as French Lick Resort.  Both of these hotels are AAA Four-Diamond and are part of the Historic Hotels of America.  

The experience at French Lick is true of an old American resort experience.  The resort boasts that it is a mix of “old world opulence combined with modern comforts” and we found that to be very true.  Beaux-arts architecture causes one to pause and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the architecture, decor, and design of the property.

The resort hotels sit about one mile apart from one another.  An old trolley runs on tracks between the resorts with a fabulous engineer guiding your slow journey.  

The trolley ride from West Baden Springs Hotel to French Lick Springs Hotel

The Location

French Lick Resort is located in southern Indiana, about 2 hours south of Indianapolis, 1.25 hours west of Louisville, and 2.5 hours southwest of Cincinnati.

The red marker marks the location of French Lick, Indiana

When We Visited

November 2022

We just so happened to come for a weekend when the resort was hosting a plethora of Christmas festivities.  This also happened to be a very cold weekend!  Temps got down into the 20s in the evening, which made for some pretty cold waiting for the tree lighting!  

The West Baden Springs Hotel 

The West Baden Springs Hotel contains 243 rooms and suites.  The current hotel opened in 1902 after the original structure burned down due to a fire.  After the stock market crash in 1929, visitors ceased coming to the resort and it was forced to close in 1932.  Ownership of the resort changed hands several times throughout the last century until the resort received a shiny, new, multi-million dollar renovation and it was formally opened as part of French Lick Resort in 2007.

The West Baden Springs Hotel

We stayed in West Baden Springs Hotel during our visit.  Our reason was because this was the very last room that was available!  After exploring both hotels, we were very happy to have stayed at West Baden Springs.  This hotel was more laid back and quiet than the bustling French Lick Springs Hotel.  And with its gorgeous atrium and Christmas tree in the center, we enjoyed relaxing with a drink in the evenings soaking in the cozy ambiance. 

The beautiful atrium | West Baden Springs Hotel

Dining at West Baden Springs

There are a couple of options for dining at West Baden Springs:

Cafe Sinclair’s serves breakfast daily in an upscale environment.  Reservations recommended. 

Ballard’s in the Atrium features casual dining in an upscale atmosphere as the tables are set in the atrium with this opulent backdrop as you dine.

The hotel also features a few grab-and-go options as well as in-room dining.

Things to do at West Baden Springs

West Baden Springs features a lovely garden out front.  When we were here in November it was beautifully decorated for the holidays. 

The garden featured Christmas lights and decor | West Baden Springs Hotel

The large expansive porch invites guests to relax and enjoy the view. 

The inviting porch | West Baden Springs Hotel

A nice indoor pool and hot tub and well stocked fitness center were great to use as well.  In the summer months there is a beautiful outdoor pool as well. 

The indoor pool area | West Baden Springs Hotel

There is also a small museum to walk through featuring artifacts from the early days of the resort as well as mementos from folks who lived in the area.

The French Lick Springs Hotel

The French Lick Springs Hotel contains 443 rooms and suites.  It opened in 1845 by a local doctor who took an interest in the healing properties of the nearby springs.  

Additions to the French Lick Hotel continued throughout the 1900s and into the early 2000s.  Once again, after massive renovations to bring the resort back to its old world grandeur, it opened permanently in 2007.  Together with the West Baden renovations complete, today’s French Lick Resort was officially born.

The French Lick Springs Hotel

Dining at French Lick Springs Hotel

There are several dining options at the French Lick Springs Hotel:

Power Plant Bar & Grill features appetizers, burgers, and salads.

Spring No 8 serves up soups, sandwiches, wraps as well as cocktails.  This restaurant can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors by the pool in the summer.

Plutos Pizzeria is a great stop for pizza and calzones.

The Grand Colonnade Restaurant features a breakfast buffet.

The Valley Bar & Grill is located in Valley Tower at French Lick Springs Hotel and is very close to the casino.  Here you’ll find appetizers, burgers, and the like while enjoying the restaurant’s rustic decor.

Valley Bar & Grill | French Lick Springs Hotel

1875:  The Steakhouse is this hotel’s answer to fine dining.  Reservations recommended.

Table One is a chef’s table with a custom menu and special Versace dinnerware.  Reservations required.

Grab-n-Go and In Room Dining are also options at French Lick Springs Hotel.

Things to do at French Lick Springs

Guests of either hotel can use the amenities at both hotels.  French Lick Springs also has a swimming pool.

Casino

The 51,000 s.f. casino is Indiana’s only smoke-free casino!  You’ll find gaming tables and slots here and it’s open 24/7.

The Casino | French Lick Springs Hotel

Hiking Trails

The resort features five hiking trails:  Trail 1 (moderate), Trail 2 (rugged), Trail 3 (rugged), and Trail 4 (paved).  Trail 4 runs between West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel.  The fifth trail, The Stables Hiking Trail, is a wooded path that features a fire pit and s’mores available for purchase in the months of September and October.

Indoor Games

Besides the casino for those 21 and older, the resort features a bowling alley and arcade on site for all ages to enjoy.

Yard Games

There are yard games available to play on the front lawn of the French Lick Springs Hotel such as cornhole, soccer, badminton, and sand volleyball.

An archery range and shooting clays are also on-site.

The Stables

The on site stables house horses for trail rides, pony rides, and carriage rides.  One can also go on a stable tour to learn how the horses are cared for and what their life is like at French Lick Resort.

Bike Rentals

Bikes and surrey carts are available for rent with a bike route running throughout the resort.

Holiday Happenings

During our visit in mid-November, it happened to be a big weekend at the resort.  Inside, a Christmas Village is set up with plenty of photo ops.  Kids can also send letters off to Santa in mailboxes located throughout the resort.  A Winter Wonderland Party took place during the daytime with crafts, games, contests, and more.  The culmination of the day is at 7:00 pm with the lighting of the massive tree outside of the French Lick Springs Hotel.  The tree lighting is followed by fireworks and then the party continues!   

Santa’s Village | French Lick Springs Hotel

The tree lighting | French Lick Springs Hotel

There is a lot to do at French Lick Resort all year long with many family-friendly events throughout the year.  Be sure to check the website’s event section for upcoming events throughout the year.

A visit to French Lick Resort is wonderful.  We chose to come here to relax and enjoy all the on-site amenities.  We appreciated the old-world opulence as well as the modern day amenities.  There is a lot to keep one busy in any season!

Leave a Reply