When you stay at Destination Kohler, an unusual resort spa in the charming village of Kohler, Wisconsin, you have several great choices. If you want a spa-focused stay, try the Carriage House, a 55-room, three-story brick hotel that originally served as a grocery store and shops for workers who lived at The American Club next door.
The Carriage House
Not only is Kohler Waters Spa located in the Carriage House but also you get extras, like complimentary access to the spa facilities even without getting a treatment. When you check in, you'll be offered a glass of sparkling wine, orange juice, or a Mimosa -- no matter what time of day. A beautiful spread of smoked salmon, bagels, croissants, muffins, fruit, and sweetbreads is laid out every morning. The spread is complimentary for guests in Carriage House, who are encouraged to come down in the spa robes and slippers found in every room. You're also invited to complimentary afternoon tea and evening cordials.
The rooms are warm and clubby, with wood-paneled walls, rich jewel-toned fabrics, and beds with fabric treatments that make you feel like a royal. We stayed in a deluxe room with a comfortable red sofa and, as you might expect, an impressive bathroom with a Kohler whirlpool bath and open shower for a whole new bathing experience.
All the rooms are named after a particular type of carriage, and you can learn about them from the artwork. We stayed in the Dog Cart room, for instance, where we learned that dog carts were not pulled by dogs but used to transport packs of dogs to sporting events.
Spa reception is located on the ground floor of the Carriage House, and it's an easy elevator ride from your room. This is definitely not a place where you have to wander the corridors looking for the spa. It also feels a bit more low-key than The American Club.
The American Club
The American Club was originally built in 1918 as housing for workers, most of them immigrants and "single men of modest means," who worked at the factory across the street. (The factory is still open and available for tours.) Walter J. Kohler, himself the son of an immigrant, envisioned The American Club as a place where immigrants could live in a clean, comfortable environment, learn English, and develop a love of their adopted country. It was a hugely successful model that lasted for many decades. But in the 1970s The American Club closed, and over several years it transformed into a luxury hotel called...The American Club.
The American Club hotel opened in 1981 and was a success. Over the years, the village of Kohler expanded, adding four golf courses that attract golfers from all over the world, a luxurious spa, an inspiring 30,000 square-foot Kohler Design Center, a chocolate company, a 500-acre nature preserve called River Wildlife, and twelve restaurants. The American Club grew as well; it's now a beautiful red brick Tudor-style hotel with 185 guest rooms and 11 suites,
All the rooms in The American Club are named after great Americans such as Mary Pickford, Ernest Hemingway, and John James Audubon, about whom you can read on the walls of the rooms. Destination Kohler gets a lot of business groups and businessmen. Most of them stay in The American Club, so it's definitely a different feeling from the more intimate Carriage House.
There are still echoes of immigrant life at The American Club. Now serving farm-to-table cuisine, the beautiful oak-paneled Wisconsin Room is the original dining room where Kohler employees once feasted. The workers' bowling alley was transformed into a pub called The Horse and Plow, which incorporated wood from the original bowling alley. The Lincoln Room, once a study with a beautiful marble fireplace, is still a gathering place for ambitious men.
Inn on Woodlake and Sandhill
Inn on Woodlake is a less expensive lodging alternative, located next to The Shops at Woodlake, all within easy walking distance of Kohler Waters Spa. If you want your own private cabin, Sandhill is a secluded retreat on 350 acres about a ten-minute drive from The American Club. They are all wonderful choices, depending on the kind of experience you want.