West Baden Springs, the original 8th Wonder of the World.

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This weekend (the 12-14th of December, 2009) Claudine and I took a little weekend get-away to West Baden Springs, In.

Sort of a 20th Anniversary get-a-way, plus birthday, plus we just needed to get away and have some alone time type of thing.

I had originally planned to whisk Claudine away and take her to Vegas for a few days.  But timing among other things didn’t work out so we planned for a weekend in December.  She said she’d handle all the details.

Our grand plan was to head out on Friday for a 3 day weekend.  Earlier in the week one of the horses turned up with an eye issue that meant we’d have to treat him pretty regularly.  This meant we’d have to cancel.  So we did.  After a few days of treatment he looked great, so we scrambled and adjusted our Fri-Sunday trip to be a Saturday-Monday trip.

Claudine had visited West Baden Springs Hotel as a tourist in 2008 while I was riding out west.  She decided then we’d have to visit.

We left around 2pm on Saturday after running a few errands, punting on the rental car. (Thank Hertz, for confirming our reservation to pickup our car no earlier than 1pm.  We arrived at 1:15pm only to find they closed at 1pm, idiots).

So we scrambled to clean out the car and headed out.   We arrived after dark so it wasn’t immediately apparent just how magnificent this hotel is from the outside.  As we walked into the atrium, WOW.  That’s all I could say was wow.  All I brought with me was my Canon point and shoot.  I was woefully unprepared.

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I like old places.  I like historical old places and man this was just…  Well, I don’t really know how to describe it.  I’ve stayed in some old places.  The Hotel Bristol, in Colorado.  The Fairmont in, San Francisco and others but this place was special.

We opted for a room with an interior view of the rotunda.  It was spectacular.  I’ve included links above to various references.

Everything was immaculate as you’d expect a 5-Star hotel to be.

Our original plans had horseback riding, tours, and massages scheduled.  All of which we cancelled when the horse decided not to cooperate.  We figured we’d just wing it.

The first thing we did was schedule our Couples Massage for Sunday afternoon.

After checking in and getting settled we hopped the shuttle over to French Lick Resort to grab a bite to eat at the buffed (which wasn’t bad at all) and hit the Casino for a while.   I was very pleasantly surprised, they had Guinness for $2.00

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We procured our Players Card, and tested the slot machines.  At the end of the evening we were up at least $120.  We found a couple penny slots that we really liked and seemed to do well at.   After we both scored big (for penny slots) we called it a night.  Saving our winnings for reinvestment another day and headed back to the hotel.

Sunday was our big day.  Lots to do.

We kicked it off with the breakfast buffet at Sinclair’s  (the 4-5ish star restaurant at West Baden).  It was OK, not great.  I’ve had better breakfast buffet’s.  Given the magnificent environment it was a little bit of a let down.  Still very good though.  I was expecting great and it just wasn’t great.   The made to order omelet was delicious, everything else on the buffet was B+ at best.

No worries though.

We then ran over to French lick to go bowling, at the resort, at Pluto’s alley.  (6 lanes).  Claudine knew it was there so we brought our bowling balls.  We knocked out 3 games.  The lanes weren’t the best, but we still had a blast.

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After we bummed around French Lick for a bit, went through the shops, then back to the Casino to reinvest our winnings.  It didn’t work.  But we left that afternoon –even-.

We returned to West Baden in time for our Couple’s massage.

You may wish to skip this part, as it may not be appropriate for all ages.

Our couples massage was scheduled for 4pm, we had to be there at 3:45pm which we were.  We had minimal forms to fill out.  Only really needed to pick a scent for the aroma-therapy-massage.  Our choices were, Some orange hand cleaner scent, pine car freshener scent, and ‘Fresh’, which we opted for.  It did smell nice.

Now I enjoy a good massage as much as the next guy.  But I just want a massage.  Let me get under the covers, face down, and let’s go.  Apparently that’s not the SPA way.  We were separated, she went in one side, I the other.  Which again seemed odd because I thought we were getting a couples massage.

I was instructed that I had locker #9 on the men’s side.  What?  What do I need a locker for?  I was instructed to go in there, get comfortable, undress to what ever level I was comfortable with, there are robes provided, etc.  We have a dry sauna, and shower, as well as a restroom if you need it.   Hrm… I’m here for a massage.

So I pop on in, very nice place.  5-Star-ish type bathroom, shower, etc.  Nice, I’ve been in nice locker rooms in many a golf resort so this was right there with that.  Nice dark mahogany lockers, fully equipped, with an added bonus; a flaming gay bathroom attendant.  I didn’t catch his name.   He showed me around.

It’s bathroom, I’m a man, I know my way around a bathroom.   He pointed out the robes and said he’d be back to get me in a few minutes.   Now I already knew Vanessa was giving me my massage so it wasn’t clear to me why I needed Peter, that wasn’t his name but I’ll just call him Peter.

I undressed and prepared for my massage.  Well, undressing is about all you need to do to prepare.  I walked over to get a robe.  There were about 8 of them on this tree like thing.  One-size-fits-all.  Now I’m not little, but I’m not overly huge either.  This thing was made out of some fancy paper or something, probably recyclable.  I’ve been in better hospital gowns.  I was not happy.  One-size-fits-all-midgets I thought to myself.  Then I noticed that 2 of the 8 were nice fuzzy robes, so I grabbed one of those.  Much better.

I pulled the flip-flops from the locker.  Wow.  They went all out here.  Maybe Dollar General’s best.  I got to choose from medium, or XXXXXL.   I tried to wedge my feet in the mediums, it was a tad tight, but I couldn’t fill up the XXXXXL’s even if I had 10 pairs of socks on so I opted for the mediums.  They hurt, and turned under my feet when I tried to walk.  The were borderline dangerous.  But I only had to walk 30 feet.

Peter returned, to escort me to the Tranquility room.  What?

Down at the end of the hall was the other part of the locker room.  More like a lounge.  He offered me water, juice, or tea.  I said sure I could use some tea.  The then spouted off 17 flavors, of which I recognized two.  Green and Earl Gray.  I opted for Green.

He said he’d get it for me.  It was right there on the counter.  Hot water, tea bags.  I could do this.

Sweetener?  Sure.  Sugar? Artificial? Honey?  Let’s go with Honey.

He put the tea bag in the cup, poured in the water then struggled to squeeze the honey in.  I said that was fine and took it from him.  He reminded me to let the tea brew a bit.

So there I was in the Tranquility room, just me and flaming gay Peter.  Normal gay men don’t bother me _that_ much, but flaming gay men do, alot.  They just creep me out.  So I’m there and I’m supposed to relax, with Peter?

He said to just chill out and relax and my Massage therapist would be in to get me when it was time.  I grabbed a golf magazine, and waited.  I wanted a massage, I didn’t need this.  It was not the least bit calming.

Vanessa came by to get me probably 5 minutes later but it seemed like an eternity.  My wife an I were reunited and given instructions on how to get onto the massage table, which we did without incident.

Then our therapists returned to hook us up.  I got the best massage I have ever received.  It was awesome, as was my wife’s.  We were very pleased.

After the massage we were again split up.  I was instructed to return to the locker room where I could again, shower, use the sauna, etc.  Take as much time as I needed.  I can get up out of the bed when the alarm rings, get a shower, get dressed and be out of the house in less than 6 minutes.  I shouldn’t need more than that to get out of here.  Provided of course I didn’t kill myself with these flip flops.

Peter was waiting for me in the locker room.  To again, point out all of the things I could use.  He left, I got dressed and was out in 2 minutes.

It was all worth it.  The massage was excellent, but I don’t need all that tranquility nonsense.

After the massages we returned to our room to chill for a bit, then we had dinner reservations at Sinclair’s.   This was the dress up event.  Originally  planned for Suit and Tie but downgraded to a nice shirt event as our plans were changed.

The food was good, the server was great.  He made excellent recommendations, and served us both great glasses of wine.  We both ate filets.  Claudine’s was cooked a little better, closer to medium rare than mine but it was still good.

After dinner…  Back to the Casino…

We tried our luck at the slots, but they weren’t cooperating.  The Casino was very slow (being Sunday night and all).  We did finally find a poker game, an electronic table for playing Texas Hold-Em.  We jumped into a game with 4 other guys who showed us how it worked.  Basically online poker at a table with real people.  No dealer.  It was pretty sweet.  I turned $20 into $170 for a bit.  Then around midnight a few younger Asians joined the table.  They were either Triads or Yakuza, I couldn’t tell.  Claudine pointed out that if that one guy of the guys was 21 she was the queen of England, or something to that effect.  A couple of them did look pretty young.  But then again the Chinese gymnasts who were supposed to be at least 16 looked like they were 12.  They were young and bet heavily.  I was patient and determined to take their money.  I had already given myself a deadline.  We’d leave in 30 minutes.  It was going OK then I got caught up in a couple hands where the betting was kind of crazy for a $.50/$1 table.   My $170 was down to 90 in no time.  I played one more hand and lost.  But still left up $50 so that made up for the bad time at the slots.

All in all we pretty much broke even and that was fine for the entertainment we received.

We returned to our room and a mostly empty hotel.  It was surreal.

On Monday we ate breakfast in the Atrium and it was fantastic.

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I cannot describe to you just how awesome the West Baden Springs Hotel is.  It’s simply amazing.  You really need to see it yourself.  All of the early 1900’s advertisement says, ‘Personal inspection is required to appreciate…” and it’s completely true.

After checking out we stopped by the stables for a quick tour.  We were sorry we didn’t have time to ride but will make it a point next time.  The Stable was as immaculately kept as the hotel.

We meandered home via 56 along the river and stopped so Claudine could see the Grand Victoria Casino, as well as the new Hollywood Casino.

I’d put French Lick’s Casino about on-par with Grand Victoria size wize.  The new Hollywood is Huge.  I’d never stepped foot in Argosy so I can’t compare.  We figure we’ll give it a go one of these weekends.

From Cincinnati, French Lick/West Baden is only 3.5 hours away.  Go!

The rest of our photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mdisher/WestBaden1209#

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