Complete Guide to Kohler, Part 2: Lodging and Dining


Even Mother Nature knows that the place to be is on the Straits Course in Kohler, WI.

As I mentioned last post, Destination Kohler is one of the world’s great golf resorts, and one of the reasons is because of all the choices it offers. Today I will tackle accommodations and dining.

For lodging there are three distinct options.

The American Club is the flagship property, and was originally a dorm for single, immigrant workers at the town’s Kohler plumbing plants, where they lived and ate until they got their citizenship and bought homes. In the late Seventies, current CEO Herb Kohler transformed it into a luxury hotel. It first attained AAA 5-Diamond status in 1986, has held it every year since, and is the only 5-Diamond resort hotel in the entire Midwest.

Stay here if you can afford it. It is the real deal. Rooms are plush, and most of all, each one has a unique bathroom that is a mini-showcase of high-end Kohler plumbing fixtures. Most have jetted whirlpool tubs, and mine also had a large walk-in shower with rain shower, handheld, and wall mounted jets. This is pretty typical. One other thing worth noting: it is one of the only hotel rooms I have ever stayed in where the light switches made sense – you could turn everything on or off from one place, without running around flicking lamps. I love that.

There are just over a hundred rooms, the hotel feels really intimate, yet it packs in features. It has three full service restaurants including a lively pub, a wine bar and a coffee and ice cream shop. It is a block from the resort’s elaborate spa, a block from the must-see Kohler Design Center, and operates shuttles to both golf clubhouses and anyplace else you want to go. It is the heart of both the Destination Kohler resort and the Village of Kohler, directly across the street form the original (still in use) plant.

The other main lodging choice is the Inn at Woodlake, about three blocks away, and part of the large, open air Shops at Woodlake mall. The 121 rooms are simper, yet still quite nice, again with standout bathrooms, but the Inn has little else actually within the building. However, it is at the mal, and everything at the mall is within a two minute walk, including Cucina, a fun, very lively and reasonably priced Italian restaurant that is also part of the resort, along with a gourmet chocolate shop, sandwich place, cigar and martini bar, gourmet market and lots of stores. Woodlake is also home to the resort’s enormous SportsCore fitness center and a yoga studio.

The secret choice is the Carriage House, which gets listed under the American Club on the website and other materials, but is in fact across the street and connected directly to the Kohler Waters Spa. The 55 rooms run the gamut from Kohler’s simplest to its grandest, including suites with open air patios complete with motorized retractable roofs. This is the place to stay with your spouse if he or she will be in the spa all day while you are playing golf.

There's no doubt you come to Kohler for golf, but there is plenty more here.

Here is a quick run down of the ginormous dining scene:

Immigrant Room (American Club); The best, the resort’s flagship fine dining, a “special occasion” spot, really good, one of the best at any golf resort in the nation – also really expensive. Has the attached Winery Bar for a less extensive meal or snack of apps and wines by the glass.

Horse & Plough (American Club) The pub and casual restaurant, great hearty sandwiches, chicken wings, and of course, Wisconsin bratwurst, lots of local and imported beers on tap, lots of TVs, very lively in the evening and during sports events.

Wisconsin Room: Traditional pseudo formal hotel dining, a breakfast buffet in the morning, somewhat overpriced upscale fare in the evening. I’d skip it for one of the clubhouses.

Blackwolf Run Clubhouse: Makes the most sense for dinner, less than 5 minutes from any of the hotels, has a large dining room and also a bar you can eat in. Very solid golf club fare for lunch, of course brats again, and the signature corn and sausage chowder. Dinner is hearty, like double cut pork chops.

Whistling Straits Clubhouse: Another very good golf choice, a bit far for dinner, great lunch, slightly more Irish themed with fish and chips and potato leek soup, along with American golf club fare. Dinner is much more elaborate and fancy.

Cucina: A very nice, casual and lively Italian with brick oven specialties and plenty of pasta, plus a nice bar. Located in the Shops at Woodlake, this is the closest you feel at any Kohler eatery to leaving the resort and going to a local place.

River Wildlife: The rustic log cabin restaurant at the wilderness recreation center is definitely worth a visit, though it has the shortest dining hours (we missed lunch one day). Creative comfort food, like steak salad and pheasant BLT at lunch. Dinner is much (!) pricier and features fresh fish, duck, steak, game, etc.

The resort has an additional three cafes and a gourmet market.

I told you there was a lot going on!

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