It’s a Dog’s Life at West Baden Springs Hotel

You’ve ordered room service and your beloved pet is looking at you with irresistible puppy dog eyes. But wait! As you bend down and pat his head, his tail begins to wag happily as he realizes the delectable meal is for him.

Bon appétit!

West Baden Springs Hotel at French Lick Resort offers 15 pet-friendly rooms throughout its 243 luxury guest rooms and suites. The upscale destination recently introduced in-room doggie dining.

If your canine has a taste for the finer things in life, order him (or her) high-end entrées such as Chicken à la Pooch, Moses’ Meatloaf (named after a regular four-legged guest, it’s served with ground turkey, red rice, peas and carrots) and Applewood Smoked Bacon.

As we speak, my Shih Tzu, Seymour, is probably seated at my home laptop booking a reservation.

Read more about the doggie dining menu and the guests who inspired it.

VIDEO: 2015 Senior PGA Championship Coming to French Lick

The 76th Senior PGA Championship will be played at French Lick Resort in 2015. For Hoosier golf fans, this will be an ideal opportunity to see some great golf played on one of the top courses in the country. The Pete Dye course resides atop the second highest point in Indiana, and is one of the state’s most intriguing landscapes.

Gov. Mike Pence also expressed his excitement for the state to host this tournament:

Not only will we see some great golf here, but people literally all over the world will see the extraordinary natural beauty of southwestern Indiana. I can’t help but believe that’s simply going to be a great, great benefit to our state as we demonstrate hospitality — but also as we demonstrate through these rolling hills and this great venue what a beautiful place Indiana is.


Bill Cook: Recollections of an Indiana Icon

In mid-year 1999 (with about 15 months under my belt at the Indiana Chamber), I learned that Bill Cook had been selected as the organization’s Business Leader of the Year. Despite 15 prior years of newspaper and other interviewing experience, I was one nervous guy heading to the office of the Bloomington entrepreneur and community stalwart.

You see, Cook was not especially fond of doing interviews. He was a little reluctant this time also, but agreed with the coaxing of longtime friend and business partner Steve Ferguson — a true Indiana Chamber champion for many years. Before getting down to the business of discussing business, we talked about some of his passions. These included the drum and bugle corps championships (Cook used to drive the bus for the Star of Indiana group that he founded), flying planes, owning a basketball team in Manchester, England and more. I think the casual conversation relaxed me more than him.

The news of Cook’s passing last night was a shocker. I pulled out that November 1999 article. You can read from many sources about Cook’s long list of accomplishments, but some of the words he shared with me a dozen years ago still resonate. Asked what it takes to build a business or restore a historic building, he said:

"It’s a matter of risk taking and being prepared to make decisions and make them quickly. Our approach to business over the years has been that we believe in trying almost everything if it involves medicine. We found out you can’t second guess whether any product is going to be essential."

As for the decision-making, Cook added, "I found you can’t do that with a committee; it has to be done personally. My personal belief is that many people use committees as a cop-out. I just never believed seeking a consensus was the best way to go. You have to have enough of an ego to believe you’re right some of the time. I don’t think I’m different than anyone else. I do like to take risks and the potential benefit that means."

At the time, Cook was in the process of making twice-a-week or so trips from Bloomington to oversee renovation of the historic West Baden Springs Hotel. That, of course, eventually became part of the French Lick Resort complex that attracts visitors from near and far for golf, gaming and more.

In 1999, Cook called the project "fun" but admitted he had questioned what he had gotten himself into.

"It was a labor of love. It was also an ego trip. The scope of this thing was so big it challenged my comprehension … I didn’t really think I wouldn’t complete the building though."

The late Myles Brand, former Indiana University president, described a familiar scene at board of trustees meetings that involved Cook.

"Bill would sit back, listen, think, scribble things on his pad and then come up with an idea no one else thought of. Bill goes right to the heart of the matter. When he speaks, we all listen."

They listened for a long time and the legacy of Bill Cook will carry on for many years to come.

French Lick/West Baden Resort an Indiana Marvel

Earlier this week, the French Lick Resort served as host for the Association of State Chamber Professionals (ASCP) annual meeting. I had the privilege of being asked to attend the conference and speak on social media, so, while I had been to the casino before, this was my first opportunity to stay at the hotel as a guest and truly explore it.

As a fan of history — especially Indiana history — I believe both the French Lick and West Baden facilities serve as living monuments and tributes to the very best of Hoosier history and lore. In fact, I invite you to learn more about both French Lick and West Baden Springs via the resort’s web site and learn some pretty remarkable facts. For example, how many people know this site played such a significant role in FDR launching his candidacy for President in 1931?

What’s more, it should be noted that ASCP generally targets some of America’s most scenic destinations, with the past two meetings landing at Bar Harbor, Maine and Greenbrier, West Virginia. So I pretty overtly asked most of the colleagues I interacted with what they thought of French Lick. I received nary a negative remark, with "amazing" being the most consistent adjective used.

If you live in Indiana or the region and have yet to experience this, take a day or two and indulge in one of the state’s most ornate, yet endearing gems — not to mention an amazing golf destination and concert venue.

West Baden Hotel Earns National Recognition

Do you enjoy the awe-inspiring architecture and amenities of the West Baden Hotel in Southern Indiana? If so, you’re not alone. See how Conde Nast Traveler readers have honored the Indiana resort:

Condé Nast Traveler readers have chosen West Baden Springs Hotel for the magazine’s 22nd Annual Readers Choice Awards.

In the November 2009 issue, on newsstands now, the Southern Indiana destination is ranked 15th in the list of large U.S. (Mainland) resorts, an impressive six places higher than its 2008 ranking.

The atrium of the West Baden Springs Hotel With a score of 89.9 (only 2.9 points away from 2nd place), West Baden outranked 55 other well-known resorts when it was evaluated on activities/facilities, food/dining, location, overall design, rooms and service.

This year, 25,008 readers voted for more than 10,000 properties and destinations. "

The big news is that, undaunted by tough times, our readers are still out there, discovering the coolest experiences and reaffirming an enduring passion for travel," said Conde Nast Traveler Editor in Chief Klara Glowczewska. "It’s clear that our readers are as devoted to the worldwide diversity of travel as ever."

Originally built in 1902, West Baden Springs Hotel re-opened in May 2007, following a meticulous restoration. Nearly 100 million dollars was spent in a top-to-bottom restoration, which maintained the historic integrity of the building, but upgraded its amenities to that of a four star property. "

Last year we were thrilled to be included in the Reader’s Choice awards and on the magazine’s Gold List," said Mark Bommarito, vice president of sales and marketing. "To be back this year and with a higher ranking shows the resort’s commitment to offering a quality experience year after year."

West Baden is a part of the French Lick Resort, which as a whole has undergone a 500 million dollar restoration and development project. In what has been called one of the largest private restoration projects in the U.S., the Cook Group saved two turn-of-the-century grand hotels and brought resort life back to Indiana. No small feat, their work has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

With the opening of the Pete Dye Course earlier this spring, French Lick Resort is quickly becoming America’s most talked about golf destinations. Located on a hilltop behind the historic French Lick Springs Hotel – one of the highest points in Indiana – Dye’s masterpiece offers stunning panoramic views of over 30 miles. The course will be the site of the 2010 PGA Professional National Championship.

Luntz: A Little Rest, a Lot of Energy

Frank Luntz was getting ready to speak to the Indiana Chamber board of directors as part of that group’s spring meeting. I had just finished a 40-minute interview (see the BizVoice magazine story) when the political and communications guru said he needed to take it easy for a little bit.

Before closing his eyes, he assured me his constantly buzzing PDA wouldn’t let him rest for long and that he’d be ready for his nearly two hours with the board. OK, he had just told me about some of his many recent travels. He was in Indianapolis that morning (he has an ongoing relationship with the Pacers, precipitated by work he did for the Simons and their shopping mall empire) before coming down to French Lick. And, to be honest, he looked like long hours were the norm rather than the exception.

Ten uncomfortable (at least on my part) minutes later, I said it’s time to go — and, as promised, he was ready. Board members were treated to a powerful and interactive session in which Luntz shared strong messages on politics, communicating effectively and more. It’s based on his book,  "Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear."

You will see and hear plenty of Luntz as the November elections approach. Read more today in BizVoice.