Tucked into the gently rolling hills off I-43, less than an hour’s drive from Milwaukee, lies the hidden gem of Kohler, Wisconsin. This tiny town of 2,100 people is home to—and nearly run entirely by—Kohler Co., founded there in 1873. Chances are, Kohler probably already has a place in your office or home, in the form of kitchen or bath plumbing fixtures. But it’s about time you gave Destination Kohler a place on your list of meeting or incentive destinations, too. Here’s why.
1. Destination Kohler’s luxury resort, The American Club, can compete with any big-city hotel. The American Club was originally constructed in 1918 to house immigrant workers and was transformed into a hotel in 1981. As the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond property gears up to celebrate its centennial in 2018, it’s taking aim at growing group business. The current breakdown, says Justin Gephart, director of sales, is 30 percent group, 70 percent leisure. “We’re really good at groups of 100 people,” says Gephart. Planners can take advantage of the luxury on-site Kohler Waters Spa for incentive or spousal programs, as well as five distinct dining options on property (plus several more around Kohler) for group meals.
2. It’s home to world-class golf. Set foot on any of Destination Kohler’s four golf courses and you might have to be reminded you’re not in Ireland. The links-style, Pete Dye-designed courses have hosted several PGA Championships. The Straits and Whistling Straits will host the Ryder Cup in 2020. “We certainly lead with golf,” says Gephart. “As a major tournament destination, that really gets us on the map.” The scratch golfers in your group will delight in navigating the difficult holes of Whistling Straits (caddies required), and those who are less experienced can take a lesson at the Kohler Golf Academy. But you don’t even have to play golf to take advantage of the beautiful grounds. You can plan events or dinners at the golf facilities, including the Irish Barn at Whistling Straits.
3. Its amenities offer a perfect mix of activities for incentive programs. Besides indulging in treatments like massages, facials and body therapies at the Kohler Waters Spa, incentive winners have many entertainment options to choose from. Other activities can include culinary classes, Kohler factory tours, yoga, snowshoeing, canoeing, fishing, archery, hiking, sport clay shooting, pheasant hunting, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and even Bavarian curling and bowling in the courtyard (in winter months only). In the nearby Shops at Woodlake, plenty of boutiques beckon shoppers in your group. The Kohler-owned Cravier Chocolatier Café (its original buttery Terrapins are a must for room drops) also does sweet tours for groups.
4. Its emphasis on wellness lends itself to health-focused meetings. In May 2017, Destination Kohler experimented with an a la carte wellness afternoon promotion for groups. “We wanted to see if there was an appetite for it, and had a really positive response,” says Gephart. They offered seven different things to this particular group, including executive physicals, healthy cooking demos, grocery shopping with a nutritionist, private yoga and physical fitness evaluations. The result? Attendees—and planners—loved the experience, and Destination Kohler is now making wellness a strategic initiative. “We booked more groups from [the experiment],” says Gephart.
5. Its holiday celebrations are second-to-none. A popular destination during the holiday season especially, Destination Kohler goes all out with sparkly Christmas decor. Three nights in December, it serves a Feast of the Seven Fishes buffet in The Wisconsin Room restaurant, as well as Mistletoe Brunch, holiday afternoon tea and breakfasts with Santa—any of which can be recreated for groups. They can also arrange special holiday-themed activities like a sleigh ride down Main Street, which will make your group feel like they own this winter wonderland.