Guests don’t stay at The American Club in Kohler, WI. They experience it. After all, this historic AAA Five Diamond property (it has also earned a Forbes Five-Star rating) is only one part of the huge almost Disneyesque-like “Destination Kohler” conglomerate (which also includes the famous Kohler Waters Spa, Kohler Design Center, nature preserve, restaurants, market, shops, even its own specialty chocolate emporium). Not to mention its main claim to fame–the impressive golf courses: Blackwolf Run, The Irish– and of course, the most well-known of all to golfers: Whistling Straits– where the 2015 PGA Championship takes place in August.
Located an hour north of Milwaukee, The American Club—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—was originally built in 1918 for the housing, meals and recreational facilties of the immigrant employees of Kohler Company.
Today, the red brick Tudor-style exterior with its dormered windows and steep slate roof remains the same as when it was built–including the 100-foot flagpole flying a huge American flag in front. But in 1981 (after a three year renovation) it was transformed inside into The American Club–a luxury resort and spa.
I felt the hotel’s old-world opulence and genteel hospitality immediately upon arrival—from the doormen at the entrance, followed by the glass of sparkling wine I was offered while I checked in, to an upgraded room (a good reason to book in the off season) plus a complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates in the room—all because I was simply a repeat guest.
Bellmen are available to help with baggage; and because this is an historic building, there are some little quirks—ie.: the elevators to rooms are down a short flight of stairs. Once your car is parked, there is also a free shuttle service provided for guests to take to the golf courses and/or to The Shops at Woodlake (also part of the Kohler “experience”.)
The American Club has 240 rooms (each honoring a famous American—from Abraham Lincoln to Ernest Hemingway) in a trio of three-story connected wings that offer access to four beautifully landscaped courtyard areas. Since the season was just beginning, the flowers were still being planted when I strolled through—but come summertime, these patios are filled with a variety of greenery and blooms. It was warm enough for me to sip a cup of coffee at one of the iron tables set up but there were also benches for relaxing with a good book.
My upgraded room was one of the Governor Suites—and featured a small entrance area (with a half bath) that led into a huge living room, complete with a gas fireplace (a cabinet over the mantel opened to expose a television–another television was in the bedroom). With clubby dark wood walls, the room also contained traditional furnishings by Baker and McGuire: super comfy sofa, plus dining table and chairs.
The bedroom was a spacious corner room with desk (free wi-fi), shuttered windows, upholstered chair and potted greenery (real, not fake) accenting the king-sized bed. Turndown service, fantastic lighting, outlets everywhere for all my electronics, Frette linens that always make me feel rainbow, rainbow, rainbow…. and bonus: zillions of pillows which I appreciate while reading in bed at night or having a cup of coffee in the morning. (There was a nespresso machine in the little entrance area plus another perk: real cups.)
Double doors opened off the bedroom into the gorgeous master bath outfitted with what else? all Kohler fixtures: double sinks, separate rainfall shower, and a fabulous deep soaking bathtub with jets. The bathroom featured all the extra touches you’d expect in a hotel that caters to those who expect such pampering: luxurious and thick body wrap towels, soft bathrobes, slippers, a magnifying makeup mirror.
The Governor Suites are one of a half dozen room categories at The American Club. Depending on the season, rates can range from a Standard room at approximately $189 to upwards of $1600 for the exclusive Eau de Vie Suite. Numerous packages for foodies, spa lovers and golfers are available; they are well worth checking out.
Eating options vary almost as widely as the room rates–from the showcase (and price-y) Immigrant Restaurant to the casual Horse & Plow tavern (once the immigrant workers taproom). Sunday brunch should not be missed in the bright Wisconsin Room–one of my favorite places to eat when I’m staying here. The Greenhouse (open on weekends) is another favorite: such a delightful setting for morning coffee or afternoon tea and pastries; it’s an antique solarium, transported from England piece by piece and located in the Fountain Courtyard.
Breakfast is not included in the room price, but there is complimentary coffee in the lovely library–where books in the bookcases include everything from the “Historical Romances of France” to the “1905 Wisconsin Insurance Report”. In the late afternoon, complimentary tea and wine are served here to guests as well.
But I was out at Whistling Straits golf course experiencing a happy hour glass of wine, toasting a view of the windswept and rugged terrain that borders Lake Michigan–so I missed it.
For more information or to make reservations, check the website.
Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long