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Lodge Kohler seeks to be grand but approachable
Lodge Kohler, located in the Green Bay Packers' Titletown District, opened in July. Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
ASHWAUBENON - Its designer calls it a grand space that feels approachable.
Approachability will be in the senses of the beholder, but Lodge Kohler is grand enough.
The $45 million, four-diamond hotel opens to the public Wednesday in the Green Bay Packers' Titletown District west of Lambeau Field.
The hotel is in many ways an extension of Kohler Co.'s other properties in Wisconsin, including the American Club and the company's main office, both in Kohler. At the same time, it connects with the Packers, the hotel's neighbor and landlord.
Many of the same materials used at other Kohler properties were used in the hotel, while connections to the Packers include carefully selected game photos and artifacts on loan from the Packers Hall of Fame.
"We wanted something that had a link to both brands," said Tim Andreas, Kohler director of architecture and interior design. "We looked at similarities. The company and the team go back 100 years or more."
That said, the hotel is 100 percent Kohler in execution.
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Guests will be greeted by valets or doormen and will find a concierge's desk inside the door. The check-in area has three kiosks instead of one desk.
"It is designed so the agent, when necessary, can step out," said Christine Loose, group director of lodging for Kohler Co. "It is more personable than that big front-desk barrier."
To the right of the check-in area is a lobby lounge, dominated by a fireplace and large photo of former Packers running back Jim Taylor. Packers photos are on display throughout the hotel, courtesy of the Biever family, longtime chroniclers of the team.
"It is not just about sports memorabilia," Andreas said. "We wanted to highlight the art of athleticism as well."
Beyond the lobby is Leaps and Bounds cafe, which includes a photo of LeRoy Butler's first-ever Lambeau Leap and photos of running backs bounding all over the place.
The cafe will serve specialty coffees, including nitro coffee, pastries, salads, wraps, a snack board and wine on tap. It will be open for breakfast, lunch and evening appetizers with cocktails.
Subtle touches of green and gold can be seen throughout, if you look.
"The question was, how do you weave Green Bay Packers with Lodge Kohler without looking cheesy?" Loose said. "We weave green and gold in, but it's not a green and gold hotel."
Tables with umbrellas of many colors are on the cafe's patio. Construction fences still line the patio but will be gone by time the NFL regular season starts and the Packers have completed the tree-lined plaza that separates Lodge Kohler from Hinterland Brewery.
Kohler Waters Spa
On the south side of the lobby is entrance to the Kohler Waters Spa, one of four such facilities the company operates in Wisconsin and Illinois. The spa is designed to have guests experiencing something water-related through one or more of the five senses —from the waiting room, called the co-ed relaxation space, to the deep relaxation room at the end of the spa experience.
The spa includes a Kohler-designed Vichy shower, six treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam room, a hydromassage pool, an 8-foot-deep cooling pool, the deep relaxation room and an outdoor garden. The Hydromassage Experience Pool includes a sit-down hot tub and walkway with water jets that start at the calves and finish at the shoulders as guests walk its length.
"Hydrotherapy is very good for your body," said Garrett Mersberger, director of wellness for Kohler Co. "It is extremely good for circulation and acute trauma."
The Vichy shower provides a constant showering of warm water while the guest lies in a shallow wet bed, similar to a massage table, but with drainage for the water. The programmable shower allows for technicians’ hands to never leave the guest’s body.
The shower is exclusive to Kohler, which has declined to sell the design to other spas.
"They ask all the time," Mersberger said.
The spa, like Leaps and Bounds Cafe and The Taverne in the Sky restaurant, are open to the public.
"It's not the hotel spa. It's the community spa," Loose said.
Outside the spa is a secluded garden available to spa guests, which Loose said also could be rented for weddings.
Also on the ground floor is a large fitness center, a swimming pool and six suites with outdoor patios on the Lambeau Field side of the hotel. They are the only guest rooms on the first floor. The remaining 134 rooms and four suites are on upper floors.
Loose said a fitness center is among the top things business travels want at a hotel. The Lodge Kohler center is 1,000 square feet with 16 pieces of equipment.
The Kohler approach is described by the company as "luxury is the absence of discomfort." Everything in the hotel, especially the guest rooms, is designed to eliminate discomfort.
All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide ample brightness even with the lights off.
They include electronic tablets with the information usually offered in folders and books. Tablets won't work outside the hotel and anyone who accidentally stuffs one in their luggage will get charged for them.
Rooms include state-of-the-art bathrooms, as you’d expect from Kohler. Showers have three shower heads that can be used independently or together, and suites have rainfall showers and stand-alone bathtubs as well. Water temperatures are digitally controlled.
Bathrooms and closets have sliding, barn-style doors, desks are designed to be used as tables, luggage stands that can double as seats, couches with fold-out beds, and electrical outlets and USB ports are just about everywhere.
Taverne in the Sky
The Taverne in the Sky restaurant, which has balcony patios overlooking Lambeau Field to the east and the Titletown District to the north, is likely to be popular, as it has been during pre-opening events. Loose said it's been hard to get people to leave the patio.
The bar area adjacent to the patio overlooking Lambeau Field is painted white, which stands in stark contrast to other spaces in the hotel.
"We really wanted it to feel like a rooftop space," Andreas said.
The lighting in the main dining room includes a mass of wooden blocks hanging from the ceiling. They are handmade, with metallic washes on some faces, and include lighting that shimmers around the blocks.
"We really wanted to create a landmark with something that is really impactful from the outside," Andreas said. "You can see it during the day, but certainly at night. We are creating almost a beacon there."
Many of the hotel's finishing touches were provided by other Kohler companies, including tile by Ann Sacks above the lobby fireplace and in the spa and bathrooms.
Kohler also worked with Scathain, a custom-furniture and decorative accessories manufacturing firm in Milwaukee. Scathain manufactured furniture and accessories for the Packers' 1919 Kitchen & Tap in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Lodge Kohler will have prices appropriate to its four-diamond status, though Mersberger said the spa will be competitively priced.
According to the Lodge Kohler website, regular daily rates for this time of year start at $170. They are higher on some weekends and for Packers games, but dip to as low as $145 per room during off-peak periods, such as most of December.
Many rooms are booked for the football season, but some still are available, said Dilan Van Ryn, general manager. Fans who want to book rooms for games must call for reservations. Online reservations are not available for game weekends.