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Kohler Co. Makeover of Scotland's Old Course Hotel
Features First Kohler Waters Spa Outside America
By Bernard Burt -, July 2006

Golf resorts feature spas that offer the best of both worlds: sport-specific therapy gets you in shape, facials and massage repair damage after the game. When the Kohler Co. of Wisconsin acquired the ultimate destination in Scotland, the Old Course Hotel in historic St. Andrews, it was a match made in heaven. 

Developing their first resort outside America, Kohler Co. built on ancient tradition in Scotland. The Old Course Hotel shares five-star status with Kohler’s American Club in Wisconsin, both members of Leading Hotels of the World. Both have world-class golf courses and spas. Similarities stop there. 

The Old Course Hotel dates from 1968, still the only hotel directly on the links revered as the birthplace of golf. Acquired by Kohler Co. in 2004, the hotel had a small amenity spa built by previous Japanese owners. Kohler  chief architectural engineer Herb Quast arrived from Wisconsin to create a showcase for Kohler bath products. “We wanted far more of a focus on water, as both a showcase for our hydrotherapy products and a way to more effectively bring the coastal location inside the spa.” 

Branded as Kohler Waters Spa, the original at The American Club proved so popular with mid-westerners that the facility was nearly doubled in size last year. Quast arrived in Scotland with a small team of Kohler designers. Where previously the facilities were on two floors, with just three treatment rooms, the new spa flows across 13,616 sq. ft. on the hotel’s garden level, encompassing 11 treatment rooms and an expanded indoor 20-meter swimming pool. The concept was developed with British design firm Corporate Edge, known for the award-winning Cowshed Spa at Babington Hall, which added low-key elegance to the Scottish hotel spa.

Creating a totally separate experience, the spa was designed to generate profit for the hotel, says general manager Jonathan Stapleton. Whereas previously the pool and Jacuzzi area were included in the hotel room rate, guests now pay for a day pass, 20 pounds sterling (about $30) which is waived when you book treatments. “One of the biggest advantages of creating the Kohler Waters Spa is that we can justify the entry fee.”  A veteran of the UK spa industry, Stapelton came to the Old Course Hotel after a stint at Champneys Health Resort, and is an avid golfer.

The spa salon has a distinctly Scottish edge. A brand-new line of Kohler skin care products has been developed. Seasonal treatments, explains manager Andrea Molloy, feature locally-sourced heather. “Wisconsin has its own Hollyhock products, and the heather line was developed for us,” says Molloy, “because Kohler wants to bring a bit of local heritage to each of its spas.”

The emphasis on Scottish sources for the spa did not impress British Customs inspectors, who rejected the first shipment of American-made products. Since the spa’s opening last spring, most of the guests have been Americans.

St. Andrews offers more than golf and spa. Walking windswept beaches where the Atlantic Ocean adds briny zest to a mild climate, you discover cultural treasures of the ancient town that gave birth to golf.  Plus a feast of organic food, wild salmon, afternoon tea, Scotch single-malt whisky and vintage French wines. Bagpipes and kilts mix with blazers and sweatsuits. The Old Course Hotel’s authentic pub overlooks the 17th hole on the Old Course. Atop the hotel, an upscale brasserie offers panoramic views of the gorse-edged links within sight and sound of the sea. New suites by French designer Jacques Garcia, feature the latest in Kohler bathroom comfort, classic furniture by Baker (also a Kohler brand), rustic fabrics in gold and burgundy.  Completely refurbished, the 144-room hotel boasts a state-of-the-art conference center and new jazz club.

Given glorious views of the links from a fitness center full of Precor cardiovascular equipment and strength-training units, Kohler Waters Spa mixes intimate spaces with airy atriums and rooftop whirlpool. Water sets the mood, from mosaic waterfall wall to experiential showers and wet rooms and marine treatments by Thalgo and Phytoceane, imported from France. Swim laps in the glass-roofed pool (except 2 to 4 pm family hours), relax in the thermal suite saunas and bubbling pools. 

Indoor 20-meter swimming pool

Bubbling whirlpool
The spa salon menu ranges from Jane Iredale mineral cosmetics and Jessica nail care with their new Jessana spa line, to Phytomer’s Fleurs skin care. Kohler’s exclusive men’s line JMK (“John Michael Kohler for Him”) debuts here, as well as “Waters,” an exclusive line of body products. 

Signature treatments harness healing power of the sea, blending minerals from seaweed and algae. Soak in Kohler’s overflowing infinity bath, called “SOK,” as chromatherapy enhances your mood with seasonal colors. Contrasting waves of warm and cold water increase circulation throughout your body as ice cubes tingle on your back.  Finishing touch is a soothing application of heather-infused oil.

The Old Course Golfer’s Tonic includes a relaxing massage of the back, and work on leg muscles to ease tension, followed by a soothing foot exfoliation, deep massage, and heated masque. For anyone feeling below par, this is a true tonic for body and spirit.

The Original Kohler Waters Spa Links American and European Traditions

Golf on two Scottish-style links courses over rolling terrain, elegant accommodations in a Tudor-style hotel, and luxurious spa services are hallmarks of The American Club in the Village of Kohler, Wisconsin.

Destination Kohler began with the opening of The American Club in 1918 to house the company’s immigrant craftsmen. There were language lessons and an introduction to American lifestyles to help factory workers qualify for American citizenship. Still owned and operated by the Kohler Co., the former dormitory is part of a posh 240-room hotel with the best bathrooms in America. Dinner at the main restaurant, The Immigrant, is served in small rooms that replicate European homes, offering Kohler Kobe Purelean beef. Scottish salmon, Iowa pork, Wisconsin cheese, and organic greens. Visit a museum of bathing and learn how to build a home spa at Kohler Design Center, and see bathtubs built on Kohler’s factory tour. Shop for furniture,  fashionable clothing and gourmet food at The Shops at Woodlake. Escape to River Wildlife for lunch in a rustic lodge featuring seasonal game, or sign up for trap shooting. 

Kohler Waters Spa launched a new tradition in 2000.  The central atrium reflects Roman origins of today’s bath rituals. Swim laps in a 36-foot pool, relax by a mosaic tile waterfall wall, and experience the latest in hydrotherapy. Mood-enhancing chromatherapy tubs, a slipper-shaped copper bathtub, and the Highland Fling, a traditional Scotch hose treatment, stimulate the senses in twenty-one water-themed treatment rooms.  The new  “Cooler Near The Lake Hydro Therapy” inspired by contrasting weather patterns indigenous to the Great Lakes region, boosts circulation with waves of warm and cool water, ice, and stones. New is a rooftop whirlpool warmed by stone fireplace.

Lodging at the Carriage House gives you direct elevator access to the spa salon and lounge, so guests come in robes for complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cordials. Romantic hideaway packages include accommodations in eleven new “Immersion Suites” with in-room spa services, sumptuous showers with multiple sprayheads, and a deck with two-person whirlpool bath.  Spa guests also have access to Kohler’s Sports Core fitness facilities, tennis center with Peter Burwash pros, and hiking trails in a nature preserve. Golfers can experience both Scottish links at the Whistling Straits course designed by Pete Dye that hosted the 2004 PGA championship, and play famed Blackwolf Run. Book a Golf Escape package for two and get discounts on spa services, from $950; golf widows enjoy it for $640 without golf. 

Featured in “100 Best Spas of the World,” member of Historic Hotels of America, and the only AAA five-star hotel in the Midwest, The American Club is a championship experience. 

Contacts:  Reservations: 920/457-8000 or 800/344-2838   Reservations:  011-44 (01334) 474371


 Bernard Burt

Also See: The Asian Spa Market Experiencing Brand Expansion / Bernard Burt / June 2006
Kohler Co. Acuires the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort and Spa in St. Andrews, Scotland from the Kosaido Company of Japan / October 2004
The American Club, Owned by Kohler Co., Building an Onsite Spa Showcasing the Kohler Brand / Mar 2000


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