Breaking New Ground with Resort Construction Projects

Progress is churning along on the construction of the Exhibition Hall, which will open in its new
capacity later this year. This building housed the Valley Links Golf and Activities Center in the past.
So far, the tennis courts have been taken up, new walls, floors and carpet have been installed, and
openings have been made on the building's exterior to add new windows.  

A car show in the vast confines of a true exhibit facility. A wedding in a lavish new indoor setting. A fine dining experience with a few dozen friends or co-workers.

They’ll all be a little easier to enjoy soon at French Lick Resort, thanks to construction projects currently in motion.

We’ve listened to the groups that come here to do business in regards to what they like and what type of amenities they’d like to see added. With that in mind, the resort has broken ground on a series of projects that will be completed in 2018 and beyond.

The most significant piece of the renovations will be a 30,000 square-foot Exhibition Hall, giving French Lick Resort a facility dedicated to exhibit space for the first time. Also in the works are a renovation to the former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion that will transform the building into an elegant venue for weddings and other special events, and expansions at two restaurants that will increase the seating capacity of both.

The 2018 projects come on the heels of a 2015 expansion that added 58,000 square feet of meeting space to the Event Center at French Lick Resort, bringing the resort-wide total of 165,000 square feet of customizable meeting and event space at Indiana’s largest privately owned facility formeeting space.

“As our group business continues to grow, we try to look for new activities and new amenities that we can offer. We’d love to have the opportunity for a group to host their event annually at the resort, and with that said, we try to find something new, whether it’s a new event location or a new recreational activity,” said Adina Cloud, Director of Sales. “As our group business continued to increase, and after looking at what groups were requesting and what we were missing, the renovation of the Exhibition Hall was our next step to be able to accommodate the size of the groups we now have coming to French Lick Resort.”

The resort's former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion, located adjacent to West Baden Springs Hotel, will
reopen next year as a facility to host weddings and other upscale dinners, meetings or functions. The
building's exterior was renovated more than 10 years ago, and work will begin on the interior in the
coming months. 

The Exhibition Hall will open as a 30,000 square-foot facility capable of containing 200 exhibits or booths 10-by-10 feet in size. If you’ve been to the resort lately, you may have noticed the facelift has begun on the exterior of the building, which is the same one that housed the Valley Links Golf and Activities Center and doubled as an indoor facility for golf, tennis and other sports. The refurbished Exhibition Hall will feature access to electricity in the floors, new carpeting, updated walls and windows, as well as concierge and valet services.

The ground-level Exhibition Hall will be able to accommodate drive-in access for large vehicles like semi trucks, buses and Humvees. It will also be constructed to be accessible to other meeting spaces, as an escalator will be built to connect the Exhibition Hall to the Event Center to allow for ease of travel between exhibit space and meeting rooms. The Exhibition Hall can be rented in its new configuration later this year.

About a mile up the road, the former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion also involves the rehaul of an existing structure. The old recreation hall, which is situated on the West Baden Springs Hotel grounds to the south of the hotel, will be restored to its original grandeur about 100 years after it first opened on Christmas Day of 1917. Construction will begin this year with the reopening set for 2019.

One of its chief functions will be for weddings, adding a new option to the existing lineup of indoor and outdoor wedding settings. The multi-functional facility of more than 7,500 square feet can also be used for dinners, banquets or other special meetings.

The building was believed to be last functional in the late 1960s by the student union of Northwood Institute, which inhabited West Baden Springs Hotel at the time. Most of the decorative wall and ceiling elements on the interior are gone, as a result of exposure to the elements and decades of being uninhabited. But Conrad Schmitt Studios Inc. — the same contractor that guided some of the restoration of the West Baden and French Lick Hotels more than a decade ago — will again steer the renovation of the building, using old photos and some molding impressions from the existing structure to rebuild it in its original neoclassical style.

“It will be done in very elaborate interior finishings,” said Chuck Franz, Vice President of Cook Group, the parent company of French Lick Resort. “They will restore it to the glamour of its time.”

To accommodate larger groups, increases in seating capacity are planned at Hagen's Club House
Restaurant (above) and 1875: The Steakhouse (below).

Restaurant space will also be on the rise in 2018 with increases in capacity at two resort restaurants, 1875: The Steakhouse and Hagen’s Club House Restaurant.

At 1875: The Steakhouse, a four-seasons room will be added by enclosing a back patio that has previously been used to seat guests for alfresco dining during nice weather. That will boost the capacity an additional 30 to 40 seats. Hagen’s, located at The Donald Ross Course at French Lick, will increase its capacity by 70 percent (from the current 88 seats to 150 seats) with an addition that affords larger groups a chance to bask in the sunset and other spectacular views overlooking the golf course.

To keep pace with the ongoing influx of groups visiting French Lick Resort, plans are in the works to construct additional guest rooms conducive to the needs of group clients, so stay tuned about this newest project once it’s finalized. As group business keeps expanding, French Lick Resort plans to keep evolving right alongside.

To keep up with the latest on group experiences and meetings at French Lick Resort, you can click here for the latest edition of our Meet + Retreat newsletter!