By Charlene & Richard Mixa
The Shining Stars of Luxury at The American Club
Destination Kohler! The American Club, the newest star in the Forbes Five-Star galaxy of luxury hotels shines brilliantly in the Village of Kohler, Wisconsin. Initially it’s hard to imagine a luxury resort across the street from a huge factory, not on water, not in the mountains, nor even near a tourist attraction. Yet, the Village of Kohler is home to a coveted Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel, a Forbes Five Star Spa, championship golf courses, and world class dining, all created through generations of the “bold spirit” of the Kohler family. Where village charm meets old-world elegance, we find an escape that consistently matches and exceeds the expectations of high quality and personal service the 57 other hotels in the Forbes Five-Star global galaxy. Destination Kohler is a definite “Five-Star Experience!”
THE AMERICAN CLUB – Gracious Hospitality & Luxurious Accommodations
Historic charm, uncompromising service and gracious hospitality all come together at the American Club. On arrival we are warmly greeted by each staff member and personally escorted to our luxurious Superior Room in the newest wing. Each room has its own unique décor and named for a famous person. The William Faulkner Room is elegantly decorated with lush linens on the king bed, a refreshment center with wet bar, and a comfortable sitting area. Stylish Kohler bath features are the highlight of the beautifully designed dressing area. A large whirlpool bath even fills from the ceiling! Double crystal bowls serve as lavatories on the long elegant vanity while the bathroom shower has multiple, adjustable shower heads. It’s the water! After each shower, our skin has a fresh glow while our hair has a wonderful shine.
Steeped in history The American Club once provided housing, meals and services for immigrant employees of the Kohler Company who could not afford housing. Walking the facility we appreciate how its heritage of excellence in craftsmanship and quality were preserved in the conversion to a luxurious Five-Star awarding winning resort hotel. Garden atriums and richly decorated rooms create an elegant and welcoming setting. Service is superb! From the bellman, concierge, reception, shuttle drivers, and housekeeping, each staff member is alert to our every need. It’s a personal touch that assures everything is perfect!
KOHLER GOLF –Diamonds in the Rough
Names of Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, both masterpieces of world golf created by Pete Dye, bring images of professional golf championships. Recalling thrilling finishes of past PGA Championships at Whistling Straits, today we tackle the Straits. A walking and caddie only course along rugged windswept terrain it has endlessly breattaking views of Lake Michigan. Huge bluffs, massive sand dunes and tall, thick fescue rough blows in the breeze creating a picturesque setting. Beware! These scenic wanders bring major demands playing the Straits. Shot’s are impossible out of the rough, bunkers are everywhere (over 500), numerous water hazards, and deep gullies easily snatch wayward shots. The undulating greens could hold a couple of houses at an average 7,500 square feet. Eight picturesque holes hug the Lake Michigan shoreline. On the 18th hole, an rustic, stone building comes into view reminiscent of an old Irish farmhouse. The Clubhouse perched on a high bluff casts shadows over the 18th green of Whistling as it stands guard over this demanding links-style course sculpted along the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s a fantastic day of golf at Kohler’s Straits Golf Course with its rugged windswept terrain under clear blue skies, light winds and comfy 70 degree temperature. We did it! We scored well below our goal, while enjoying and surviving Golf Digest‘s# 3 in America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses for 2011/2012.
Excitement abounds at Blackwolf Run. Just a week before the 2012 U. S. Women’s Open and crews are everywhere setting up tents, grandstands, and television towers assuring the course is in pristine condition. In a scenic natural setting along the Sheboygan River Blackwolf Run is regularly ranked on the list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” by Golf Digest. Teeing off early we are excited to play the River Course so close to the tournament. The course is in fantastic condition! Initially the holes follow the river before winding up hillsides to beautiful elevated tee boxes overlooking hilly sloping and often double fairways.. Awesome greens! The best we’ve ever putted! The varied terrain adds to the fun and challenge of the River Course. Our scores are even better than at Whistling Straits and I’m excited about my 40 foot putt for birdie on Hole #5.
How does your swing compare to Tiger Woods? In a video analysis with the JC Video System, golf instructor, David Kemnitz, of the Kohler Golf Academy, compares our swings to these Pros. A side-by-side view of our swings with Tiger’s is an eye opener. David’s guidance on hinging our wrists on the back swing definitely gives more power. Our lesson also includes excellent points on chips, pitches and putts. Taking a common Chalk Line Reel, David makes a chalk line on the putting green from the center of the hole to several feet out. Practicing putts along the chalk line aids in keeping the putter face square. A handy golf aide that is available at any hardware store. Practicing and incorporating these techniques into our game is the next challenge.
THE KOHLER WATER SPA – Splish, Splash and More Than a Bath!
Ah, a cool refreshing waterfall tumbles over us at the Kohler Water Spa’s private relaxation pool. Before our Couples Riverbath, we relax in the enclosed rooftop patio with its huge fireplace and coed whirlpool As a pioneer in the experiential water business for 135 years, Kohler brilliantly incorporates hydrotherapy into their spa services. In the private Riverbath Room our treatments begin with a full-body exfoliation. Utilizing the therapeutic and relaxation benefits of water, the invigorating Riverbath whirlpool is the next step of our service. It’s just like a river! Whitewater, river rapids, eddy and a waterfall are all options of the whirlpool jets. Eight soft-color hues in the whirlpool provide the healing power of colors – “chromatherapy.” Experimenting with jets and colors is therapeutic and fun! The massages following our Riverbath leave us relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated.
Richard retires to the Men’s Locker Room with its respite room, whirlpool, plunge pool, steam room, sauna, and a relaxation room. For me it’s the spa’s newest hydrotherapy service, the Hamman Ritual, a nurturing treatment based on the traditional Turkish Hamman bathhouses. Focusing on water and warmth, I am wrapped in a traditional pestimal (cloth body cover) as warm water is slowly poured from copper tas bowls over my shoulders, back and arms. More nurturing pours of warm water follow the full-body exfoliation, the black soap purifying cleanser, and a scalp massage. The final application is a vitamin-rich moisturizer and capilar essence to my face. My body and skin feel revived and hydrated!
THE KOHLER RESTAURANTS – World-Class Dining
Variety is the spice of life as are the dining options at Kohler. From the casual Craverie, at the Shoppes of Kohler, to The Immigrant Restaurant, Kohler’s crown jewel, we find plenty of choices. The expansive breakfast buffet in the Wisconsin Room is a great start to our day. Reliving our golf round over tantalizing dinners we watch golfers on the 18th hole at the Whistling Straits Restaurant with grand views of Lake Michigan. We enjoy a breakfast, lunch and dinner of a hearty traditional fare at the Blackwold Run Restaurant overlooking the course and the Sheboygan River. A hidden gem is the River Wildlife’s Lodge Restaurant. Tucked away from other Kohler facilities the Lodge Restaurant, a rustic log cabin with primitive wood furnishing, borders a lush hardwood forest. It’s a scrumptious homemade lunch in this cozy dining area.
Our dining finale is the showcase Immigrant Restaurant. Arranged in a series of six rooms decorated in the European style of early Wisconsin settlers it exudes a rich old world charm. With tapas, tasting-style portions, or the pre fixe menu, we decide to share several tantalizing dishes. Adam, our waiter, assures all needs are met for a memorable dining experience. Each dish is elegantly described as it is presented. Once Richard mentions how he likes “Jigger” beer that Mr. Herbert Kohler imports from Scotland the talk turns to Wisconsin beers. Adam selects “Fat Squirrel” a Wisconsin beer for Richard and enthusiastically recommends several “must try” Wisconsin microbrews. Later at The Horse & Plow, the original taproom of the Kohler Co. workers, it’s a beer windfall with over 100 bottled beers from Wisconsin and 12 crafted beers on tap.
THE BOLD SPIRIT OF KOHLER – The Melding of Entrepreneurship, Vision and Spirit
A fateful decision of John Michael Kohler, an Austrian immigrant, to coat an iron hog scalder with enamel and market it as a bathtub is the birth of a dynamic business that spans 135 years. At the Kohler Design Center we learn the history of the Kohler family and the growth of the Kohler business from a cast iron and steel foundry to world renowned status. Entrepreneurship, a bold spirit, and vision spurred the company’s growth from Walter J. Kohler’s concept of The American Club and the village’s charming design to Herbert Kohler, Jr. expanding the businesses into golf and recreation. Touring the three levels of the Kohler Design Center we find a fusion of the old and new in kitchen and baths. Approaching a big white ceramic hatbox, the lid raises. “It’s a toilet!” The “Numi” a high tech toilet does just about everything but clean the floor. An extensive array of Kohler baths, whirlpools, bubblemassage baths, showers, toilets, lavatories, faucets, vanities, and kitchen sinks easily meet anyone’s design needs. The numerous elegant designer kitchen and baths give fabulous decorating ideas from clean, modern, and streamline to the warm, soothing and relaxing.
Glowing red a cast iron bathtub is removed from a 1700 degree Farenheit oven by a robot then glazed with enamel. Walking past cooling the tub, on our Kohler Factory Tour of the Enamel Shop, we feel the intense heat it emits. Our informative three hour tour takes us through five different factories, all just across the street from The American Club. We watch toilets and lavoratories molded in the Pottery Factory and then fired in a huge firing oven that’s longer than a football field. In the Foundry is the hot work of pouring and casting molten iron into Kohler products. Melted brass is carefully poured into molds for faucets in the Brass Cast while the Brass Shop does the finishes and shining of the brass. Walking over two miles on this informative and educational manufacturing tour, we have a new admiration for Kohler products and its workers.
A Five-Star destination resort Kohler shines brightly with exceptional luxurious accommodations, an award winning indulgent spa, championship golf courses, world class dining, and the “bold spirit” of Kohler.
If you go:
In addition to its four championship golf courses, Kohler offers a variety of recreational activities for all seasons as well as terrific family activities. The Sports Complex focuses on fitness, swimming and tennis. At River Wildlife, 800 acres of wilderness, preserve guest can enjoy the outdoors with recreational activities including hiking, horseback riding, canoe & kayaking, trapshooting and five stand clays, upland bird hunting, fishing, self-guided birder’s hike, 3-D archery range and cross country skiing.
The American Club, 419 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI 53044