Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Siblings Reunited at West Baden Springs Hotel

Charlie Wonnell anxiously awaits
the arrival of his siblings. 
The suspense was killing Charlie Wonnell; he was giddy with excitement and a bundle of nerves all at the same time. Just a week and a half ago he had made contact with his long lost brother and sister and now they were minutes away from joining him at the West Baden Springs Hotel. This was the moment he had imagined for 49 years.

The trio was taken away from their parents in 1967 when they were preschoolers and put in an orphanage. Oldest sister Susan (just five years old at the time) remembers being fiercely protective of her younger brothers and feeling like she needed to become the mother figure.

The siblings believed they would be kept together. Their hearts were broken as they were each adopted out to different families. Charlie was the first to go and his new family moved him to the West Coast.

He always remembered Tommy and Susan and, in fact, named his own children after them.  He looked for the pair for years but, with a birth name of Johnson, he kept running into roadblocks. It all changed when he tried Ancestry.com’s new DNA testing. He didn’t get an immediate hit but made connections with some third cousins and a woman he calls “an angel” who jumped into help.  The real break came when they found a post Susan had left on an adoption website way back in 2009.

The group didn’t waste any time; they immediately made plans to meet up just a week later. Charlie, who frequents the resort, knew it would be an ideal place to host the homecoming. The resort has always been a special place for his family and he wanted to share it with them. It turns out Tommy lives just a few hours away and Susan flew in from New Jersey.

The moment the siblings are reunited after 49 years.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the group converged in the expansive atrium. With video cameras rolling and flashes going off right and left, they ran towards each other and immediately embraced in a group hug.

The group had a lot of catching up to do.

After the initial shock wore off, it was time to share updates. After all, they had missed out on nearly 50 years of each other’s lives. They talked about everything from kids and careers to their memories of their time spent together.

Charlie summed up the experience best, “It’s like winning the Powerball.”

What a great looking family!

  For a video version of this story please go to:


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Become French Lick Resort's Featured Spring Break Family!

Planning a trip to French Lick Resort during Spring Break? You may be chosen for a complimentary trip! Simply explain why your family should be the ideal “French Lick Resort Spring Break Family” in a 2 minute or less video. Upload the video to your personal YouTube account and then share the link on French Lick Resort’s Facebook page. Facebook fans will vote for their favorite after the top three videos are chosen by the resort’s marketing team. The winner will receive a two night stay at French Lick Springs Hotel, FootGolf credit, stables credit, Kids+Passes, carriage ride up to four and your choice of KidsFest activities.

The winning family will be greeted upon arrival with a video camera and the family will record their favorite aspects of their spring break vacation. That video will be shared via the resort’s Facebook page once the family has returned all camera equipment and departed from French Lick Resort.

The deadline for this video contest is February 19th. The winner will be announced February 26.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ramers' Love Affair

This isn’t a typical love story. Yes, it is about the love that two people share with each other, but it goes far beyond that. It’s about the steadfast commitment and love shared between a couple and “their” hotel.

“French Lick is our place. Oh yes, other people are there when we are, but, to us, it is our place.”

Let’s start at the beginning. The date is February 14, 1979. A newly married bride and groom, evidenced by the white gown, tuxedo and post-wedding glow they’re wearing, walk hand-in-hand through French Lick Springs Hotel. They make their way to the bowling alley and decide to play a game of pool. Just imagine, in a room behind the bowling alley bar, a man and a woman dressed to the nines drinking champagne, laughing over a friendly game of pool and dreaming of possibilities of things to come. That’s when the love affair with French Lick was born.

That bride and groom are David and Becky Ramer. They chose to honeymoon at French Lick Springs Hotel because they wanted an escape that wasn’t too far away from their southern Indiana home. They ended their three-day getaway with a vow that they would return every year on Valentine’s Day to celebrate their anniversary.

35 years later, that vow hasn’t been broken once – not even the year the hotel was closed for renovations.
“We thought about bringing sleeping bags and just camping out on the front lawn for Valentine’s Day and night, but February weather did not make that thought too appealing,” said Becky.

Instead, they paid an obligatory visit to the hotel and invited some of their hotel staff friends out to dinner to repay them for their service over the years.

The staff is one of the reasons why the Ramers continue to come back to French Lick Springs Hotel. The years pass, but the names, faces and relationships are never forgotten.

They recall one February when a heavy snow blanketed French Lick and their car got stuck. Roman Mayrina, a food and beverage manager, came out coatless in his uniform and dress shoes with a shovel in hand to dig them out. Whether it was outstanding and thoughtful service by Woodrow David and Carissa Miller, history lessons and long conversations in the bowling alley bar with Marilyn Kessler or sharing annual holiday cards with Robert Stiger and Sam Townsley, the relationships that have developed over the years are truly special.

“I have 20 years of service and memories with them. We have guests that come every year around the same time, and I begin looking forward to the Ramer’s February visit when January rolls around,” said Carissa Miller. “It brings a smile to my face just thinking about them.”

Of course, the Ramers get asked why they don’t visit other places for their anniversary.

“The simple answer we have is that French Lick is where we’re supposed to be and want to be on Valentine’s Day,” said David. “It’s important to us because it has been the anchor of our marriage. The annual pilgrimage to a romantic, elegant place of renewal of love and relationship is what is important.”

Over the years, there have been Valentine’s Day dinners at 1875: The Steakhouse, mornings spent in the lobby reading the paper and people watching, and jewelry presented at dinner. They have visited on years when there were less than 20 guests in the hotel and years when business was booming.

Although the time has passed, the Ramer’s commitment to those vows they took 35 years ago has been unwavering. “When our time on this earth is done, we sure hope there’s a place for us in Heaven like French Lick,” said the Ramers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holidays at French Lick Resort

Happy December! 2015 is trickling away and the holidays are upon us! Whether you're visiting French Lick Resort for a day or weekend trip with your family, friends and loved ones--there is no better place to celebrate the holidays! Both properties have a lot of events and activities happening this  season and we hope you'll join us! Here's a timeline of holiday events for the rest of the year.

Warming Hut
Fridays and Saturdays, December 4 - 19  7:30pm - 9pm
French Lick Springs Hotel • Grand Colonnade 
Enjoy hot cocoa, snacks and classic board games.

Story time and cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus
Fridays and Saturdays, December 4 -19 • 8pm - 9pm
French Lick Springs Hotel • Habig Room

Holiday Choirs
Saturdays, December 5, 12 & 19
West Baden Springs Hotel • Noon - 1pm • Atrium
French Lick Springs Hotel 2:30pm - 3:30pm • Lobby  

Pictures with Santa
Saturdays, December 5, 12 & 19 • 2pm - 5pm
Events Center • 2nd Level

Holiday Movie
Saturdays, December 5, 12 & 19 • 9 PM

French Lick Springs Hotel • Habig Room

Hot Chocolate with Santa
Sundays, December 6, 13 & 20 • 8:30am - 11am
French Lick Springs Hotel • Power Plant Foyer

Family WinterFest
Saturday - Wednesday, December 26 - 30 • 10am - 8pm
Thursday, December 31 • 10am - 5pm
French Lick Springs Hotel • Event Center
Indoor activities and recreation for families and children ages 6 - 12 years.

Greetings from Havana! New Year’s Eve Celebration
Thursday, December 31 • 7pm
French Lick Springs Hotel • Event Center
Greetings from Havana begins with a buffet in the Hoosier Ballroom, followed the music of The Soul Street Band and The Jimmy Church Band.

Glitz and Glam New Year's Eve Celebration
Thursday, December December 31 • 7:30pm
West Baden Springs Hotel • Atrium
Ring in the new year with a little Glitz and Glam! This party with your special someone includes dinner, dancing and entertainment by Sarah Stivers and her orchestra with a fabulous look back at the best songs through the decades.

KidsFest New Year’s Eve
Thursday, December 31 • 6pm - 1am • $25/child
French Lick Springs Hotel • Valley Links Golf & Activities Center  
Ages 6-12 years. $25.00 per child. For overnight guests of the resort only.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Holiday Engagement

A Holiday Engagement

On a cold November evening, alone in West Baden Spring Hotel’s gazebo, Tyler Braun proposed to Jessica. The setting, inspired by his memory of a documentary his grandfather shared of the famed hotel, evoked the pitch-perfect combination of romance nestled into historic charm – a love he and Jessica shared as much as the love they shared for each other.

In Tyler’s mind, the famous spa seemed a kismet destination for his proposal to Jessica. Not only had it been on his mind for years after seeing a film depicting its renovations, transforming it from a forgotten ruin to its original gild and charm, but his parents had honeymooned at its sister hotel, French Lick Springs Hotel.

The video travel blogger (vlogger) knew from his memory of the film that the hotel and its grand gardens offered the perfect place for Jessica (also a travel blogger) and him to begin their adventure as husband and wife.

Tyler knew he was going to propose to Jessica on that November. He’d already asked her parents’ for their blessings and purchased the ring. But he wasn’t sure if he’d get the chance to pop the question at West Baden or not. The couple routinely took weekend trips, and that weekend Tyler presented Jessica with two travel destinations—West Baden Springs Hotel or a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. Luckily, she chose West Baden—not only for its beauty and luxurious setting, but because she too had longed to visit the resort.
Both Tyler and Jessica are history enthusiasts, and West Baden Springs’ historical significance, as well as the combination of character, elegance, and grace resulted in their stay being one of the most memorable in their history of travels. (Getting engaged didn’t hurt either). “The hotel melds perfectly old world magnificence with modern style and sleek innovation,” Tyler said. “It’s the perfect destination no matter who you are. The resort itself takes care of the opulence, the staff takes care of the friendliness.”

Let Tyler and Jessica inspire you to choose the romantic West Baden Spring Hotel as your engagement or honeymoon destination by viewing their engagement video (youtube.com/user/tylertravelstv). For more information on weekend getaways or honeymoon packages, visit frenchlick.com/hotels/packages.

Friday, November 13, 2015

French Lick Resort 2016 Concert Season

Josh Turner, Commodores and More Featured
In French Lick Resort’s 2016 Concert Series

French Lick Resort is excited to officially announce the 2016 concert series. This year, music enthusiasts of every genre will find something that suits their tastes. The series will kick-off with the distinctive styling of Josh Turner and finish with one of the greatest Motown groups The Commodores. In addition, Creedence Clearwater Revisited will take the stage in February and the American country-folk-rock band Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in March.

Josh Turner • Saturday, January 23 • 8pm
Windsor Ballroom

Josh Turner is one of country music’s most recognizable hit-makers. His rich, deep voice and distinctive style has sold more than 12 million units. As one of the youngest members of the Grand Ole Opry and a disciple of traditional country music, Turner weaves a simultaneous contemporary tale in his lyrics against the backdrop of tried and true chords and instrumentation.  From his 2003 Platinum-selling debut Long Black Train to his 2012 Billboard No. 1 release Punching Bag, Turner has garnered multiple GRAMMY, CMA and ACM nominations. His hits include Your ManWhy Don’t We Just DanceFirecrackerWould You Go with MeAll Over Me and Time Is Love – the most played country song of 2012.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited • Friday, February 19 • 8pm
Windsor Ballroom

Since 1995, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, the brain trust of Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, original and founding members of CCR, bring to life iconic songs of yesteryear.Fortunate SonSuzy QWho’ll Stop the Rain and more give fans the opportunity to once again hear songs that are the touchstone of a generation. Earning them a place in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, the music with its new players is like a sweet ride with aftermarket embellishments. CC Revisited plays timeless, historical music, infused with the energy of additional members John Tristao, Kurt Griffey and Steve Gunner.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band • Friday, March 18 • 8pm
Windsor Ballroom

After almost five decades together, the iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s legacy continues to grow. Over the years they have been won multiple Grammy, IBMA, CMA Awards and nominations plus recorded multi-platinum and gold records along the way. Hits such as Fishin' in the DarkMr. Bojangles, and their groundbreaking Will The Circle Be Unbroken album have earned them a place in the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Today, NGDB (Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter, John McEuen) continues their non-stop touring with a concert at French Lick Resort. Tickets are on sale now for this highly acclaimed American band.

The Commodores • Saturday, April 16 • 8pm
Windsor Ballroom

The Commodores - one of the greatest Motown and R&B/Funk phenomena of all time - will take the Event Center stage. Walter "Clyde" Orange, James Dean “JD” Nicholas and William “WAK” King have influenced artists young and old and in all genres with their co-lead vocal formula, killer rhythm section and out of sight horns. From songs that make you move like Brick House, to the songs that move you Three Times a LadyEasy and Sail On plus the GRAMMY winner Nightshift – you haven’t heard The Commodores until you’ve experienced them live. They are Vocal Group Hall of Fame inductees with over 75 million albums sold, seven #1 singles, five #1 albums and twenty Top 10 singles.

For a produced video of the upcoming 2016 concert series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2CKkNHRtbI

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cubs Fever hits French Lick Resort

French Lick Resort embraces Cubs connection

West Baden Springs Hotel has a deep history with The Cubs. The last time the Cubs went to the World Series was in 1945 and the last time they won the World Series was in 1908, the same year they held Spring Training on the western portion of grounds of the West Baden Springs Hotel. The mineral springs are said to have been a part of the Cubs success. The first time they came to the resort for Spring Training, the team went by another name; The Chicago Colts. It would be nearly a decade before the nickname "The Cubs" is formally embraced by the team. 

They trained in the area in 1907 and 1908 winning the World Series at the end of both of those seasons and apparently West Baden’s Sprudel water served them well with back-to-back World Series wins. From 1906-1911 the team stopped in West Baden to train and after the 1911 season, the Cubs did not train in the area again until 1943. In 1943 they trained on the 18th Fairway of the Valley course at French Lick Springs Hotel (which required moving 24 trees) after travel restrictions were mandated by the U.S. Government due to WWII.

For a produced video on the flag at West Baden: https://vimeo.com/142660752