Kohler, Wisconsin is the Midwest’s best kept secret. Kohler, the company, began in 1883 when John Michael Kohler had an idea to turn a hog scaulding trough into a bathtub. Soon he was in the plumbing business. Around the turn of the century he moved the plant four miles away from Sheboygan, to a place in the middle of the countryside which would later become the town of Kohler, a community designed around its factory. Workers were recruited from Austria, Germany, and other countries to work at the plant.
The American Club Resort, originally built to house immigrant workers, has been renovated into into a 5-star luxury resort with world class golf courses, an award winning spa, outdoor activities, and fine dining. The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin (or the less expensive Inn on Woodlake also in Kohler), is the perfect spot for a special getaway weekend. And a perfect place to spend a splurge-worthy weekend.
Located just two and a half hours north of Chicago is where you will find Kohler, named for it’s manufacturer of kitchen and bath products.
Upon checking in to The American Club on a recent getaway weekend we were welcomed, greeted by name, offered of a glass of wine, and personally escorted to our room by a friendly front desk worker, who made sure we knew how to operate the key and get into our room before she left.
The tudor-style American Club, constructed in 1918 for immigrant workers, is now a Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond resort, that was rated #1 in the midwest by Conde Naste Traveler in 2013. It is on the Register of Historic Places and one of the Historic Hotels of America. A free Historic Hotel tour is offered daily.
Renovated in 1981, The American Club now offers 241 guest rooms, 12 dining options, and a 21,000 square foot state-of-the-art conference facility. Rooms range in size from the “standard” 349 square foot room to the the 1429 square foot Presidential Suite. All are decorated with rich fabrics and furnishings, as well as state-of-the-art Kohler bath products.
Our room was large and luxurious with dark paneled walls, easy chairs, and wet bar with a gold fauceted sink. And ice bucket with tongs sat nearby with a corkscrew and wine glasses. Two closets provided plenty of hangers, a safe, and even an umbrella.
State-of-the-art Kohler plumbing products were featured in our bathroom. A large whirlpool tub with instructions entitled, “The Bathing Experience” sat in the corner. At it’s foot stood a glass enclosed shower featured 7 different shower spray options. Across from the tub sat two bowl sinks that looked like crystal bowls. Plush towels and bath products were scattered throughout the room. Robes hung behind the door, and slippers sat by the bed.
Early the next morning we enjoyed a delicious room service breakfast consisting of fresh fruit, yogurt, and a muffin for me, and a vegetable omelette for my husband with toast wrapped in an ornate napkin.
As we left our room, heading towards the lobby for a tour of the Kohler factory, a young girl came flying out from behind the desk. “Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Hartmann. How are you this morning?” she asked. Map in had, she explained how to get to the start of the tour.
When we looked unsure, she walked us down the steps, across the parking lot, down one block, and into the Design Center where the tour was to begin. She chatted all along the way about what was good at the restaurant we would be visiting later for dinner. It was the first of many instances over the course of the 3 day stay, of the staff going above and beyond to tend to our every need.
The Factory Tour, led by a friendly gentleman who was going on 48 years with the company, was full of stories from the past as we saw urinals being cast out of clay, and steel bathtubs hot out of the oven. The tour ended where it began, in the Design Center where we were saw the latest in bath and kitchen products. The lower level is devoted to the history of the company and worth a visit. By now we were getting anxious for our afternoon visit to the award winning spa.
First we grabbed lunch at The Horse and Plow, one of the restaurants at The American Club that once housed a bowling alley. We dined on lobster rolls and salads on smooth tables of thick wood resurrected from the lanes of yesteryear, learning more history with each place we visited.
Next up, massages at the award winning, AAA Five-Diamond, Forbes Five-Star Kohler Water Spa. Once again we were greeted by name and welcomed. The 25,000 square foot spa includes 21 treatment rooms, a rooftop lounge with hot tub, lounge chairs, and fireplace. Downstairs is a relaxation pool with 8 foot waterfall, mens and womens ‘respite’ rooms that each featured a hot tub, cold plunge pool, sauna and steam room, as well as showers and more lounge areas. Robes and sandals were found in lockers assigned to us when we came in.
Returning to our room after an afternoon of relaxing massages and enjoying the many spa amenities, we found our beds turned down, fresh ice in the ice bucket, and a Kohler chocolate waiting for each one of us. Nearby was a small 3 X 5 card that read “We hope your time under our roof is filled with enjoyment, calm, and rest.”
For a five-star, splurge-worthy, special getaway weekend where you will be treated to the best of the best accommodations while being treated like you are the only guest at the resort, you can’t beat The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Book your stay! The American Club TripAdvisor Reviews & Availability.
If you are planning to visit Kohler, you may want to think about a quick trip to Chicago! Here is how to spend a perfect day in Chicago!
A huge thank you to the American Club Resort for their generous hospitality. Kim was their guest at the hotel, but as always, all opinions are her own.
Kim is an aspiring travel writer/blogger. Her love of travel began with visiting most of the United States on family vacations as a child. She started her blog, travelsthroughmidlife.com after being inspired by Alexa Meisler’s podcasts “Break Into Travel Writing”. She has two grown daughters and lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband.