Family Vacation in Kohler, Wisconsin
Shifting the paradigm that The American Club—the Midwest’s only Forbes Five-Star Resort—is exclusively for couples, golfers and girlfriends, the Kohler Company has launched a new program just for kids. Kohler Kidz, that is.
Launched in the spring of 2011, the Kohler Kidz program is designed to provide families with a stress-free vacation peppered with kid-friendly activities and a break for mom and dad. Starting as low as $257 for two adults and one child, the package includes two nights at the Inn on Woodlake and amenities for children that include a gift, baseball hat, wristband, smoothie at the Take 5 cafe, a special treat at the Craverie Chocolatier Cafe, kids’ meal at the Horse & Plow pub, and complementary equipment rentals (bikes in the summer, sleds in the winter). The program also offers a 20% discount on services for individuals age 16 and older at the super-swanky Kohler Waters Spa. Breakfast is served as a buffet and is complementary.
Customizing a visit to Kohler and The American Club to celebrate the last weekend of summer, we made the two hour drive from Madison and immediately settled into the quiet pace of life in the bucolic town. Delighted our first floor room opened to a private patio on the practice putting green between the Inn and the Woodlake beach, we borrowed putters and golf balls from the front desk and let the kids’ burn off pent up energy. Canine guests (this is one dog friendly hotel) also romped in the plush green lawn.
Riding the complimentary shuttle to the Sports Core Health & Racquet Club, our room key granted access to the indoor swimming pools, hot tubs, sauna, and steam room, not to mention the swimming beach complete with lounge chairs and sun decks. A generous size and heated to 86 degrees, the indoor pool is shallow on both ends and deeper in the middle. BYO swimmies.
Stopping by the Take 5 cafe with coupons for complimentary smoothies, snacks are also available at reasonable price—our favorite was a small bag of fresh popped popcorn for a whopping 72 cents (including tax). A dining option for families on a budget (or looking for a range of healthy snacks), Take 5 cafe is the antithesis of Craverie Chocolatier Cafe, a one-stop shop for all things decadent. Affordable at $1 are adorable mini-cupcakes, the perfect portion size for a late afternoon treat.
Dining at the Horse & Plow Pub, kids’ meal choices range from an all-American hot dog to a plate of fresh pasta or a fruit plate (all kids’ meal prices are $6.95; free for individuals using their Kohler Kidz discount). Quite possibly the most delicious cheese curds this Wisconsin-family has ever enjoyed, make sure you put this appetizer on your bucket list. Before anyone spills, you may want to pull the 10% off coupon good at Movers & Shakers kids toy store from one end of the kids’ menu.
Whether you splurge and take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Village of Kohler, or make new friends around the evening campfire back at the Inn, convincing your kids to jump in the futuristic shower—tricked out in a way only Kohler knows how—might just be the easiest mandatory bedtime routine ever.
Clean, rested, and ready for a second day in Kohler, the kids received an hour of professional golf instruction from Senior Instructor Todd Wagner. Wagner charges $75/hour; depending on the age and ability of the young golfers, families can group their kids and share the cost as they see fit. Using patience and techniques only the father of a four-year-old can command, Wagner tailored his technique to the ability and emotional state of each kid.
Pairing a video camera with a swing-analysis software program called JC Video Motion Analysis, Wagner walked each kid through their form, with a frame-by-frame comparison to a golf pro. Nothing boosts an ego like being stacked up to Tiger Woods.
Hungry after an hour of fresh air, we dined at Blackwolf Run in the mammoth lodge that houses a pro shop, bar, restaurant, and banquet room. Kids’ meals at Blackwolf Run include the standard grilled cheese, hot dog, spaghetti, and chicken fingers for $6.95. Unique to the dessert menu, however, is a fabulous “build your own s’mores” plate for $7. Complete with home-made strawberry and vanilla marshmallows, graham cracker cookies, and chocolate and caramel sauces kids can “roast” their marshmallows over a metal crock of fire.
On our Wisconsin Travels “must see” list for quite some time, the Kohler Design Center lived up to our expectations (and then some). Part museum, part show room, part Parade of Homes, the Kohler Design Center is a wonderful way to pass an afternoon any time of year. Testing the knobs, faucets, and flushers to our hearts content, we accidentally discovered a bidet is capable of hitting an innocent bystander from several feet away. Parents of toddlers may want to pack a towel, although rumor has it you can borrow one from the front desk.
Meandering back closer to the Inn on Woodlake, we popped into the Movers & Shakers kids’ toy store (human-sized rooms for fantasy play is probably a more fitting description) to complete a free craft as part of our Kohler Kidz package. Concocting a bottle of perfume to “spray at her brothers,” our daughter was mesmerized by glitter and gloatingly carried her special “souvenir” with her throughout the day.
Quite possibly the best part of the weekend was a few hours with out parents (and us without kids). For $13/child, parents may request a three hour date night compliments of Kohler Kidz Dinner and a Movie. Complete with indoor and outdoor activities, dinner (pizza from a nearby restaurant), and age-appropriate movie, the time passed quickly for everyone. Walking to our dinner reservation for two Cucina—a romantic and authentic Italian restaurant on Woodlake—we shared a bottle of wine over pasta with pancetta, not worrying about the drive home.
Full from a second breakfast at the complimentary breakfast buffet, we borrowed an assortment of bikes and helmets from the concierge at The American Club. Meandering through the streets and parkways, we stopped at playgrounds and found the popular wintertime sledding hill and public tennis courts (at night, lights cost a quarter for 15 minutes of playing time). Like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting, this memory lingered fresh in our minds as we returned to our regularly programmed lives.
Note: Families with a longer itinerary in Kohler and nearby Sheboygan may also enjoy a quick visit to Bookworm Gardens, a short five minute drive outside of town. Also worth mentioning is a coupon book good for many of the stores and restaurants comprising The Shops at Woodlake. Ranging from $2 off a bottle of wine to $50 off furniture, ask for a copy of the book from the front desk.