By Roger Cox, Editor
Neither the Wisconsin dairy lands nor a company town like Kohler, home of the eponymous bathroom and kitchen fixture manufacturer, inspires visions of an inimitable resort vacation. Yet since its inception in the early 1980s, the American Club has quietly emerged as one of the great resorts in all of the Midwest, one made all the more unusual for being a showcase for the Kohler Company that owns it.
The heart of the resort is a stately red-brick National Historic Landmark originally built in 1918 to house immigrant employees and now extensively renovated and expanded to encompass a conference center and 240 rooms and suites, all with opulent bathrooms—including whirlpool tubs—straight out of a Kohler catalog. Hand-crafted oak paneling, Oriental rugs, down comforters, and stained glass further enhance elegant comfort. Pampering is as close as the new Kohler Waters Spa, located right at the American Club. And all of this is just steps from the Kohler Design Center, which exhibits Kohler products past and present.
There is an almost eerie magnificent obsession about the entire resort, as if every brick and fixture had to reflect the Kohler Company's pursuit of polished excellence. That has, however, engendered extraordinary amenities, among them Pete Dye's 72 testing golf holes: two courses at Whistling Straits (the Straits course, which snagged prime real estate bordering Lake Michigan and is ranked No. 5 public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest; and the Irish course) and two courses at Blackwolf Run (the River course, ranked No. 11, and the Meadow Valleys course). Add to that a racquet and fitness facility called the Sports Core (which has a dozen courts, half of them indoors), miles of biking and hiking trails, and even a wilderness preserve. The resort also has nine restaurants, foremost among them the Immigrant, whose menu reflects Wisconsin's cultural heritage with choices as superb as the prices are high.
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Tennis Staff. Kelly Monahan directs the programs. A graduate of Ferris State University where she majored in Professional Tennis Management and Marketing and played on the women's tennis team, Michael Johnson heads up the program. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, she oversees a very active roster of tennis sessions for local members and hotel guests, including a full range of junior programs for ages 3 to 18 and a mix of clinics, Plus and Cardio workouts, and skill-level drill sessions for adult.
Courts & Fees. Sports Core, the 100,000-square-foot recreational facility, has 12 hard courts, half of them indoors. Court fees: $18/hour outdoors for hotel guests, $23-$30/hour indoors.
Golf Courses. The resort has four notable Pete Dye courses: 36 holes at Blackwolf Run and another 36 at Whistling Straits along Lake Michigan.
If you like the sound of Destination Kohler, also take a look at:
444 Highland Drive
Kohler, WI 53044
Seasons. The indoor courts allow year-round tennis.
General Tourist Information. For general information about travel to this part of Wisconsin, visit the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce website.