CIO: French Lick Event Center a Catalyst For 'Changed' Business

Posted: Updated:
The revamp of the former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion is not expected to begin until 2019. The revamp of the former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion is not expected to begin until 2019.
FRENCH LICK and WEST BADEN SPRINGS -

The chief information officer of Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc. says a more than $5 million investment in more renovation projects at the French Lick Resort is a "no-brainer" response to evolving customer demand. Chuck Franz says the need for a dedicated exhibit hall, special event facility and additional restaurant space was triggered by increased interest from groups following the $20 million expansion of the 163,000-square-foot Meeting and Event Center three-and-a-half years ago. "That really changed our business down here," Franz told Inside INdiana Business. "We've actually increased our group rooms annually by 50 percent -- or up (to) over 60,000 group-room-nights a year."

He added the influx of groups has strained availability elsewhere at the resort. Franz says meeting space has been occupied by the exhibitors that come along with larger groups and transforming the old Valley Links Golf and Activities Center, which included several indoor tennis courts, into an exhibitors hall will help address the issue. The second major leg of the work is transitioning the former Billiard and Bowling Pavilion, which is located next to the West Baden Springs Hotel and was last used 50 years ago, into a place for weddings, dinners, banquets or other special gatherings.

The company's real estate development affiliate owns the massive Orange County attraction and over the last 12-plus years, has invested more than $600 million through a collaborative venture led by the late Bill and Gayle Cook that has returned the once-crumbling tourist destination that dates back to the mid-1800s to its former glory. "We've considered this to be a south central Indiana regional project," Franz said about the resort's economic impact. "We've always approached this -- not from a standpoint of just the two towns (French Lick and West Baden Springs) and the two hotels (French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel) -- we believe that by restoring it to its grandeur of the past, it was a destination in the past and can be (again), as we're proving out here."

The Exhibition Hall is expected to open October 1 and Franz says thousands of additional room nights have already been booked because of it. The special event venue, he says, has the potential to help the French Lick Resort become "the wedding destination for maybe a two or three hour area." Construction on it is slated to begin in 2019. More space is also being added to Hagen's Club House Restaurant and 1875: The Steakhouse to accommodate seating for bigger groups. Once complete, the work to all the facilities is expected to lead to up to 100 new jobs.

You can read more about the latest round of renovations by clicking here.

  • Perspectives

    • What's Your College Student's Financial Intelligence?

      Do you have a child who’s headed to college - or maybe already attending?  If there was a financial intelligence exam, you would want your student to ace it!  Help your student develop good money management skills. That knowledge will pay dividends for a lifetime! For most students, going off to college is the first time they’ll be on their own. It’s imperative that they learn to be responsible for themselves. As parents, we hope any lapse in personal...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • National Guard Academy Targets At-Risk Youth

      Indiana's adjutant general says the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy in Knightstown continues to make a difference by offering at-risk teenagers a second chance. The academy, which was established in 2007, will Saturday celebrate another graduating class. The program uses quasi-military training, structure and discipline for students between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of school or are severely deficient in credits. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business...

    • IIB Hires Merritt McLaughlin

      Grow INdiana Media Ventures LLC, the parent company of Inside INdiana Business, has hired Merritt McLaughlin as writer/reporter. McLaughlin is a recent Ball State graduate who has previously worked as a writer for Indianapolis Monthly and Ball State's Ball Bearings Magazine. The New Hampshire native has won several writing awards from organizations including the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Indiana Collegiate Press, the Ball State Department...

    • Study: State Fairgrounds Impact Grows

      A new study shows the economic impact of the Indiana State Fairgrounds has grown. The study, conducted by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, says events at the fairgrounds as well as the renovation of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum generated a direct economic impact of more than $197 million on the local economy in 2017, more than 22 percent higher than the previous study in 2011. The study says $152 million came from visitors to Indianapolis. Attendees of the...

    • South Bend Mayor Not Seeking Re-Election

      The mayor of South Bend says he will not seek a third term. Pete Buttigieg, whose current term ends in just over a year, said during a news conference Monday his administration will continue to work hard during that time "to accomplish our mission to deliver services that empower everyone to thrive."

    • $600M Waste-to-Fuel Plant Coming to Gary

      A California-based renewable jet fuel and diesel producer has announced plans for a massive investment in northwest Indiana. Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. says it will invest $600 million to build the Centerpoint BioFuels Plant in Gary, which will convert municipal solid waste into renewable transportation fuel. The project is expected to create up to 163 jobs by the end of 2022. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Centerpoint will be located at an industrial site that will be...