Looking for a lovely romantic escape for couples or an ideal vacation spot for families? I discovered the ideal getaway when I was a guest of The Osthoff Resort in the charming waterfront village of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This beautiful and laid-back AAA Four Diamond property features 500 feet of beachfront beside the crystal clear, spring-fed, Elkhart Lake. This makes it a perfect spot for hydro bikes, skiing and sailboats.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can enjoy cocktails and appetizers, or lunch and dinner on the Lake Deck. There is also live music each weekend. In addition, The Osthoff Resort features two outdoor pools and a pond that becomes a winter skating rink.
Operating for more than 20 years, the pet-free resort lies only an hour’s drive from Milwaukee or 2 ½ hours from Chicago.
Arriving at The Osthoff Resort
The expansive lobby at The Osthoff Resort has an old-school vibe full of rich wood and upholstery. It gracefully extends into the Elk Room where a full-service bar and enormous fireplace awaits guests.
After checking in, our group of writers headed to individual suites we would call home for the next several days. My casually elegant living room featured a comfy couch and chairs, set across from a large wall-mounted television. A gas fireplace, and a private balcony, beckoned as well. Although I wouldn’t partake during this visit, I appreciated my fully equipped kitchen, from appliances to cookware.
In my king bedroom, sumptuous bed linens and a luxurious bathroom with separate shower and jetted soaking tub created a cozy sanctuary. ‘The Osthoff’ Resort offers several suite sizes, in which every bedroom includes an additional TV. Limited individual guest rooms feature king beds and balconies. Those exclusive rooms also include wet bar, small refrigerator and microwave.
Ultimate Spa Experience at Osthoff Resort
The name of The Osthoff’s nationally award-winning Aspira Spa means ‘infused with spirit.’ A healing atmosphere pervaded every inch of the spa from its spacious massage rooms to quiet waiting areas and a circular soaking tub. Of course, while there are more traditional massages and soothing facials available, several luxurious treatments reflect indigenous traditions.
I melted into the treatment table during my 80-minute Sacred Waters Massage, which incorporated medium pressure and water from Elkhart Lake, considered sacred by Native Americans.
On another visit I might request a Moroccan Hammam treatment, which progresses from aromatherapy in the steam room, to a purifying salt scrub exfoliation and body shampoo. After a warm shower, a Moroccan Hot Oil Massage provides a soothing finish.
Aspira Spa’s Balneotherapy Bath, in a Chromatub, employs chromotherapy, based on the premise that individual colors possess different healing energies. Minerals, nutrients, and essential oils detoxify the body as a therapist provides lymphatic drainage, chakra balancing, aromatherapy, exfoliation, and a scalp massage. In addition, chromatub water jets massage your body, while colored lights stimulate healing.
Food, Glorious Food at Osthoff Resort
Great food is an important aspect of The Osthoff Resort’s legendary hospitality. My breakfast, at Otto’s Restaurant, included a fresh fruit smoothie and bottomless coffee. I also sampled savory and decadent Crab Cake Benedict. Casual and comfortable, with pretty lake views, Otto’s also serves lunch and dinner.
At Lola’s on the Lake, French techniques, scratch preparation and fresh ingredients characterize gourmet dinners, paired with premium wines. Devoted to topnotch cuisine and service, the restaurant frequently incorporates seasonal produce and herbs grown onsite.
Ultra-fresh crab gazpacho, plump scallops in two decadent sauces, a beautiful riff on Caesar salad, and beet and radish salad kicked off our ‘tasting’ dinner.
Warm and satisfying corn soup with ginger, and a salad of mixed greens, candied pecans, pears and blue cheese followed, and then trout or short ribs. Our meal ended with gorgeous chocolate, fruit-filled and tart-style mini desserts made by several members of our group, at The Osthoff’s L’ecole de la Maison.
Created to share professional culinary techniques with visitors, this a gorgeous, state-of the-art cooking school where students are introduced to a wide array of flavors and kitchen tools. During my 3-4 hour class, we created a multi-course, French-inspired meal from scratch, with tips from chef assistants. Our chef/instructor demonstrated how to remove fat from a leg of lamb and assemble crepes Suzette, as well as classic French onion soup, gougeres (cheese puffs) and much more. What a feast! (Read Susan's article about the Coquilles St. Jacques au Gratin she prepared during her stay at The Osthoff Resort.)
Beyond The Osthoff Resort
Several times during our visit, the group walked a short distance from the resort to check out the diverse restaurants in town. One is the Lake Street Café, with a 1914 dining room floor and a Wine Spectator-recognized wine list since 2003.
Here, we tasted plump seared scallops with julienned vegetables, and roasted peanuts, plus shiitake chicken served with mashed sweet potatoes, from the frequently changing menu.
We sampled more seasonal dishes at Paddock Club Elkhart Lake that included shrimp and grits with egg and Lemon Ricotta Cannelloni. They also have a great bar, serving up both classic and creative cocktails.
For some fast-paced action, visit Road America, a renowned motor sports facility that celebrated 50 years of operation in 2015 and is only a short drive from The Osthoff Resort.
More than 400 annual events include a summer gathering of vintage cars, a Monte Carlo Rally that draws vehicles from across the nation, and several NASCAR-sanctioned events. The popular midway allows visitors to get really close to race vehicles and meet drivers too—sometimes even sitting in cars with them.
There are endless entertaining options at this high-end property, from terrific food to decadent spa treatments and outdoor water sports—no matter what time of the year you choose to visit.
The Osthoff Resort is located at 101 Osthoff Avenue, in Elkhart Lake, WI. Call 855.876.3399 or visit online at http://www.osthoff.com/.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.