Earlier this month I wrote about a trip my wife and I made to the newly reopened French Lick Resort in rural French Lick, IN. Bill Cook, a self-made billionaire from nearby Bloomington, IN invested $382 million into the renovation of the French Lick Resort and nearby West Baden Springs Hotel. He reopened the West Baden Springs Hotel last week after being closed to guests since 1932.
When West Baden was built in 1902 it was called the “eighth wonder of the world” for its 110-foot free-span dome, the largest of its kind until the opening of the Houston Astrodome in the 1960s. The hotel’s original 508 guest rooms were restored and reconfigured into 246 modern rooms and suites.
“You only read things like this in fairy tales,” local State Representative Jerry Denbo said at the ribbon cutting. He added, “We have two grand hotels out here in the sticks of Indiana and we’re truly blessed.”
Bill Cook said, “We’ve come a long ways. This building could have been history. Now, it’s here for history, and it’s here for people to enjoy.”
Only a local person, with ties to the area would invest almost $400 million into a dream of past grandeur in an out-of-the-way place like French Lick.