French Lick Resort, IN
Recently, someone asked the question, “How do I get my spouse to want to fly with me?” I think I can be considered a bit of an expert in this field since I am one of those spouses that was a little reluctant to fly in the beginning. Let me just say to the pilots in our lives, we know you love to fly, but to some of us that love you, the love of flying may not come as naturally. My suggestion is, don’t take us up and fly us around the pattern or circle the town. We know that is fun for you, but, if you want us to learn to love to fly with you, show us what’s in it for us. Take us somewhere fabulous!
Although my love for flying doesn’t come naturally, my love for travel and adventure does. Flying opens up a whole new world of weekend trips and adventures that just aren’t feasible if you have to spend hours in the car driving to the destination. When Zach and I go, we look for a few key things when searching for those weekend getaways to fly to. Obviously, somewhere fun and that has an airport conveniently located are the two most important factors. A couple of other things we consider though are ease of transportation once we get there and flexibility in the cancellation policy. The second of those can be key since those of us in general aviation rely heavily on the weather cooperating with us. We recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend at a wonderful resort that not only has something for everyone in the family but also checks off all those boxes on our list. Because of this, it really is a must add to your GA travel list! Whether you’re looking for a fun weekend at the casino, want to try out one of their three world-class golf courses, a family weekend, or just looking for a romantic getaway weekend for two, this resort definitely has it all!
Nestled in the hills of Southern Indiana, the French Lick Resort is truly a hidden gem, and is one of the most aviation accessible destinations we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting! There really are few places where you can land, tie the plane down, be picked up by a shuttle provided by the resort, and arrive on the property, all within about 15 minutes. They even have a promotion specifically for the general aviation community! It was this offer that initially drew our attention, and we had to see it for ourselves. Check out this link to see for yourself:
We arrived a little later than planned on Friday evening into the French Lick Municipal Airport (FRH), and I immediately called the concierge desk who promised to have transportation set up quickly. No joke, within 30 seconds of hanging up, a shuttle pulled up. How’s that for service?! Ok, so admittedly this was just luck as they were there to drop another couple off. The driver was kind enough though to wait on us to finish up securing the plane, and within 5 minutes of landing, we were off to the Resort. This was only the first taste of the top-notch & friendly service that we would experience all weekend. If you do happen to get there late on a cold and drizzly evening like we did and don’t have the luck of a shuttle immediately pulling up, we did confirm that there is access to the terminal building 24 hours a day.
There are two hotels that make up the French Lick Resort, The French Lick Springs and the West Baden Springs Hotels. For our maiden trip to the resort, we stayed at the West Baden. Walking into the atrium of this historic hotel is nothing short of breathtaking. It is simply massive! Later in the weekend we would take a historical tour and learn that, when it was built at the beginning of the 20th century, it was the world’s largest free-span dome. Even in the 21st century, it is still a spectacular sight to behold. We got checked in and made our way up to our room. It was as beautiful as you would expect in a hotel where old world class meets modern comfort. We were lucky enough to receive an interior room with a balcony overlooking the atrium. Throughout the weekend, there were various musicians playing, and, as the sound echoes up through the atrium, we found it relaxing to leave our balcony door open to let the music serenade us.
There is so much to do throughout the resort no matter your style. Before the trip, we looked at some of the events going on and chose to make reservations for a wine tasting with hors-d’oeuvres for our first evening. We headed downstairs to the atrium, and, beside one of the largest and most unique fireplaces I have ever seen, we enjoyed a fantastic evening of excellent wine selections paired with exquisite food that complimented each other beautifully. The wine expert told us a little about each wine we tasted, and the chef would then tell us about each course she had prepared. He (the wine expert) was a little old school while she (the chef) was a little new school, and while they teased each other a little about it, you could see the mutual respect they had for each other’s talent and it made for a very unique pairing of wine and food.
Once finished with the wine tasting, we decided to head over to the casino to see how quickly we could lose our allotted gambling money for the weekend. Spoiler alert, it didn’t take long! The casino is attached to the French Lick Springs Hotel, and there are trollies that run 24 hours to take guests back and forth between the properties. In fact, the trollies will take you anywhere you need to go around town. (This is a huge plus for anyone traveling by airplane!) I was hoping for a little beginners-luck at the blackjack tables, but there wasn’t any luck to be had that evening. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the remainder of our evening and headed back over to the West Baden for a nightcap at Ballard’s bar in the atrium before heading to bed.
The next morning, we only had time for a quick coffee and breakfast at the grab and go Xanadu, located on the first floor of the West Baden. Afterward, we were scheduled for the 10:00 am tour of the West Baden Hotel. Indiana Landmarks Tours conducts several tours each day of both hotels. Fortunately, we had an excellent tour guide that gave us an overview of the hotel from it’s heyday in the 1920s to its demise during the Depression when it subsequently became a Jesuit seminary and then a college. Maintenance costs ultimately lead to the facility being abandoned and sitting empty for years until an almost 600-million-dollar restoration job was done to revive both the West Baden and French Lick Springs hotels in 2005. My favorite fact we learned on the tour is the mystery surrounding paintings of Angels that were found during restoration in a room that is only accessible from the top of the dome. No one knows who painted the angels or when, but graffiti that has been found on them suggests that is was during the initial construction during the early 1900s.
Once we finished up the tour we caught a trolley over to the French Lick Hotel to check it out a little more, and grab a bite to eat at their pizzeria before my treat for the weekend, a massage in the Spa at the French Lick Springs Hotel. With a little time to spare, we wandered over to the town of French Lick to check out the local watering hole, 33 Brick Street. The place is an obvious tip of the hat to one of French Lick’s most famous residents, Larry Bird. Afterward, it was time for one of the things I was looking forward to the most for the weekend, an hour long massage at the spa! It was everything you would expect out of a spa experience at Four Diamond Resort. A gorgeous tranquility room where the relaxing begins, followed by an hour of absolute heaven with an outstanding massage therapist (shout out to Kara, my ankle feels so much better!) On our next trip, I will be sure I try one of their mineral baths since, after all, the hot springs are the cornerstone of what started both hotels! Once I was done, I went back to the room to join Zach. We decided to put our bathing suits on so we could take a swim in the massive indoor swimming pool and relax a little in the hot tub before it was time to go back to the room to get ready for dinner.
Speaking of dinner, it was quite the treat! We had reservations at Sinclair’s, one of the fine dining options at the resort. Sinclair’s is located in the West Baden and is named after one of the original owners of the hotel, Lee Sinclair. As we sat down, we saw the wine expert, Tom, from our tasting the night before. He recognized us and made it a point to come over to say hello. We told him how much we had really enjoyed the chardonnay from the night before. Even though it wasn’t on the menu, he went to the back and found a bottle for us. Just another special touch that made our weekend so incredible. Dinner was marvelous! No detail went unnoticed, and it was a perfect way to cap off our romantic weekend away.
On Sunday morning, we enjoyed sleeping in on one of the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve ever slept in. Once up and around though, we again took a trolley over to the French Licks Springs Hotel to sample their breakfast buffet. The lineup included everything you would expect, from bacon to eggs, and even something called a blintz…whatever that was! Unfortunately, after breakfast, it was time to check out and say goodbye to our little piece of heaven for the weekend. The shuttle came to pick us up and dropped us off at the airport.
This was our first trip to the French Lick Resort, but I can say, with certainty, that it will not be our last. The fact that they have such a fantastic airport and recognize the resource that it is for the community is only one thing that makes this such a great general aviation destination. It really is a hidden gem tucked away from all the hustle and bustle of a big city that provides so many options for activities, no matter what you’re looking for. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the golf courses also. Although it is not my thing, even I can recognize what great courses they have. We flew over them, and they were some of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever seen. I also mentioned that one of the criteria that we look for in a GA destination is the flexibility in the cancellation policy. If the weather isn’t looking like it is going to cooperate, you can cancel within 48 hours of your stay. Lastly, we really loved that we had no reason to reserve a rental car. With the shuttle service provided by the hotel, there is no need for one. They will literally take you anywhere you need to go!
So whether flying is old habit for you and your significant other (and family), it’s something new and exciting that you are trying to get that special someone to enjoy as much as you do, or even you just need a weekend golf getaway with the guys (or ladies), I recommend a trip to the French Lick Resort. With a top-notch airport, shuttle service, flexible cancellation policy, and Four Diamond amenities and service, The French Lick Resort is an excellent choice for a general aviation destination weekend!