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Winter escapes: suggestions for a getaway that's not too far.


When the holidays are behind you, consider venturing out around the Hoosier state to visit some of its scenic areas during a less hectic time of the year. Many of the local attractions are open year-round. Your adventure can be packed with things to do or just an opportunity to relax and recover from a busy December and New Year's. Lodging choices range from B&Bs to the most elegant hotel in the state.

There are more than 30 bed and breakfasts in northern Indiana's Amish Country in Elkhart County, ranging from a Victorian mansion to a converted 100-year-old barn. When people choose the Spring View Bed & Breakfast in Goshen, they are looking for a quiet respite in a peaceful and beautiful setting. On 48 acres, it's just a few miles from the hustle of downtown.

Innkeepers Phil and Roz Slabaugh were inspired by a bed and breakfast experience they had in southern Indiana and decided to create their own 14 years ago. They used Amish craftsmen to build the B&B, which is beside a spring-fed lake where blocks of ice were once harvested for the area. Weather permitting, their Amish neighbor will give guests a ride in a horse and buggy.


A full breakfast is served in the cozy sunroom overlooking the lake and grounds, and it just might include stuffed French toast. Spring View has eight guestrooms from $59 to $79 a night, including a two-room suite with a common area and full kitchen for family or friends staying together. Rooms feature glider rockers, pillow-top mattresses on king-sized beds, and some rooms have whirlpool tubs and steam. The majority of guests are within a three-hour drive, coming from Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis areas, says Roz, but the inn has had guests from Europe, Africa .and Australia, as well. Many visitors take the 90-mile self-guided audio driving tour on the Heritage Trail, winding through the area's quaint towns with familiar names: Nappanee, Shipshewana, Middlebury, Bristol. A CD can be obtained from the Elkhart County Visitors Center in Elkhart, but the audio can also be downloaded at www. amishcountryorg, along with a map.

Goshen is the perfect center point for drives in all directions, while also offering a lot to do. Shop at the Old Bag Factory, located in an 1890s manufacturing plant, visit antique shops and restaurants downtown and catch a music or cultural event at Goshen College. Whatever you do in Amish Country, make sure you allow enough time. "Some people try to do it in a day," says Slabaugh, "but it really takes two to three."


If you haven't been to downtown Carmel in a few years, you won't recognize it. The revitalized area, called the Carmel Arts and Design District, offers art galleries, restaurants, clothes and gift shops, a two-story antique mall and more. It is now a match with the exclusive housing areas that surround the ever-expanding Hamilton County community. In the heart of all this is Old Towne Carmel Bed and Breakfast, with three guestrooms at $159 a night. The remodeled century-old home, owned and operated by Loretta Tuttle and Doug Roby, opened in August 2006 and is the first and only B&B in Carmel. Guests appreciate the high-thread-count linens, cozy down comforters, Egyptian cotton towels and spa robes. Rooms also have flat-screen TVs and DVD players, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, and wireless Internet access.

Your morning begins with French-pressed coffee, cappuccino, teas and juices, home-baked sweet rolls, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, and gourmet hot breakfast entrees served in the dining room. "Loretta is a wonderful cook," says Roby, "and the menu is varied each day." Light hors d'oeuvres are served in the afternoon.

Don't let the porch rockers fool you. Although you are welcome to laze around, many of the guests come for the exercise. "We get people from Evansville, Cincinnati and Chicago who want to ride their bikes on the Monon Trail, which is one block away," he says. "Some ride it all the way to downtown Indianapolis." The trail is about five miles in Hamilton County, 10 in Marion. Some business travelers, particularly women, stay on a regular basis, he adds. Others are visiting friends and relatives and use the B&B as overflow guest space. Guests are always welcome to use the den with fireplace and one of its two patios even has a gas fireplace. "We want to create a memorable experience each day."


Completed in 1902, West Baden Springs opened as a hotel in May 2007 for the first time since the 1930s, and offers 246 luxurious guestrooms and suites. "The rooms in most demand face the atrium and have a balcony," says Jerry Gleason, vice president of hospitality for French Lick Resort Casino, which includes both the French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs hotels. "People just love being able to open the doors and stand on the balcony. Some will bring a chair out and just watch the activity below them." It's not hard to understand the attraction; it was once the world's largest free-span dome dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Rooms run from $180 to $365 in January.

Piano music is played on weekend evenings in the atrium and a light show of sorts plays against the inside of the dome each night to add to the ambience. Sitting in Ballard's bar in the Atrium with a martini or glass of wine is a favorite pastime of guests and visitors.

A typical leisure guest spends a couple days, says Gleason, first marveling at the restoration, many having seen it in its decayed state. Then they may take advantage of its amenities, such as the spa, indoor pool and fitness center, and fine dining at Sinclair's. The guests at West Baden are somewhat different from those at the sister facility in French Lick, says Gleason, which attracts more group business, families, and gamers to the casino. "Those coming to West Baden are coming for the beauty of the hotel, the historic aspect of the hotel. They are more likely to come and enjoy the area, for fine dining and relaxation. You could probably catch them in their room reading a nice book--just enjoying the atmosphere. They use the spa. They are making an event out of being at the hotel."

Brown County in Winter

LONG AFTER THE LEAVES have left the hills of Brown County, many make the trip to south-central Indiana and enjoy a quick winter vacation of hiking, horseback riding and exploring the outdoors and shops of Nashville.

Brown County is a year-round destination and the winter months offer a totally different experience, explains Debbie Dunbar, director of marketing for the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Visitors can enjoy the beauty of a fresh snow while hiking, bird-watching or cross-county skiing in Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest. "There are several places to go horseback riding in the snow, which is always fun," Dunbar says.

The area's many log homes and cabins are also popular in the winter as many feature fireplaces and hot tubs. "It's a perfect romantic getaway to escape the winter blues," she says.

Most of the shops in Nashville keep winter hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Coachlight Musical Theatre in Nashville begins its 2008 season on January 5, with shows every Saturday at 7 p.m.
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Title Annotation:HOTELS & RESORTS
Author:McKimmie, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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