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.