Water World

A visit to the Kohler Waters Spa in eastern Wisconsin may be just the thing to ward off winter’s chill, improve your golf game, or learn to cook like a pro.

With its painstakingly landscaped lawns, quiet tree-lined streets, tidy colonial homes, and lots of happy, preppy couples strolling about, the Village of Kohler, neighbor to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, might at first seem a little Stepford. But don’t let that (or the longish drive from the Twin Cities), keep you from experiencing one of the Midwest’s most luxurious and idyllic resorts.

People typically visit this utopia for one of two reasons: the spa or the golf courses. Both are exquisite, and open to the public. The Kohler Waters Spa, a natural showroom for the company’s designer bath fixtures, features a menu heavy on water treatments, like the Lavender Rain, featuring a Kohler Custom Vichy shower, or the Harmony Bath, a gentle exfoliation followed by a hydro-massage. Because 40 percent of visitors are men, the spa has created a number of soothing, post-golf services.

There are five golf courses at Kohler, but the rugged, British Isles-inspired Straits Course on Lake Michigan is the tour de force. Golf magazine ranked it third among the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” in 2008, and the men’s PGA tour teed off here last summer. Follow your game with dinner at the Whistling Straits Restaurant, where the only thing that can upstage the refined comfort food and perfect martinis is the sunset over the ninth hole.

During the colder months, from January through April, Kohler showcases its culinary prowess with Saturday demonstration-kitchen sessions. The working kitchen provides an informal setting for the resort’s chefs to teach guests their craft. If barley is more your speed than beef bourguignonne, pencil in a visit May 27–29 for the Annual Kohler Festival of Beer, featuring demonstrations and tastings of beers from breweries across the country.

For the most carefree and romantic escape, book a room at the Carriage House, whose clubby, equestrian-inspired suites share the same building as the spa, fitness center, and a glass-encased rooftop deck with whirlpool. More important, you can enjoy evening cocktails in your robe and slippers without anyone raising an eyebrow.



Carriage House at The American Club or Inn On Woodlake; 800-344-2838, destinationkohler.com


For breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, reserve a booth at Whistling Straits Restaurant, 800-344-2838. The more casual Blackwolf Run Restaurant serves regional fare like corn-sausage chowder and honey-glazed pork chops, 920-457-4448. Save room for Sunday brunch at The Wisconsin Room, 920-457-8000. Grab smoothies, salads, and panini from Take 5 Café, 920-457-4445. Visit destinationkohler.com/restaurants.


Luxuriate on the deck at Kohler Waters Spa after a massage, 920-453-2840, destinationkohler.com/spa. Book a tee time at any of Kohler’s four golf courses at Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, 800-344-2838 for advance reservations, 866-847-4856 for same-day times, destinationkohler.com/golf. Venture off the beaten path and visit a gallery or catch a performance at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, 920-458-6144, jmkac.com.