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Benchmark Opens West Baden Springs Hotel; Restoration of Two
Historic Hotels at the French Lick Resort Now Completed
The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, May 24, 2007 - Benchmark Hospitality International has officially opened West Baden Springs Hotel, the landmark property located in West Baden Springs, Indiana, that was once known as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World.'  The historic hotel (circa 1902) reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, May 23, that included Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman.  The property was last used as a hotel in 1932. The opening celebration of West Baden Springs Hotel marked the completed restoration of two historic hotels at the French Lick Resort Casino destination. The French Lick Springs Hotel (circa 1901), located one mile away in French Lick, Indiana, reopened last October.

"The restored West Baden Springs Hotel represents the best of what Indiana has to offer - unique architecture, history and beautiful scenery," said Indiana Lt. Governor Skillman.  "The hotel will provide thousands of jobs and spur economic growth in the surrounding communities."

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by invited guests and state dignitaries, the first official guest was checked in - Betty Oakley - daughter of Doc Jones, the former West Baden Springs Hotel gardener and current Historic Landmarks of Indiana volunteer. 

VIP Ribbon Cutting, L to R:

- Sam Haigh, President & Chief Operating Officer, Benchmark Hospitality 
- Willa Sanders, 'Orange Shirts' Representative*
- Jerry Denbo, State Representative
- Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman
- Barry Weininger, French Lick Town Council Member
- Steve Ferguson, Chairman of the Board of Cook Group

Not shown in photo: 
- Chris Leininger, Chief Operating Officer, French Lick Resort Casino
- George Ridgway, Architect, G.S. Ridgway and Associates
- Marsh Davis, President, Historic Landmarks of Indiana

"The mineral spring waters and the beautifully manicured gardens are what drew people naturally to the area," said Benchmark's Vice President of Hospitality Jerry Gleason. "Doc Jones and his team were instrumental in putting West Baden on the map as a health resort. We are honored that his family is here today to be a part of the grand reopening." 

The West Baden Springs Hotel is the crown jewel of the $382 million resort restoration project which began in earnest in August 2005. It features what was once the world's largest free span dome, soaring 110 feet above the atrium floor. Six circular stories containing 246 guestrooms - including eight specialty suites, three historic suites decorated with period furniture, and a lavish Presidential Suite - surround the atrium.

"This is a monumental day in the history of French Lick Resort Casino," said Chris Leininger, chief operating officer.  "With the reopening of the historic West Baden Springs Hotel, our resort offerings truly represent the most unique resort destination in the Midwest."

Located less than a mile from the French Lick Springs Hotel and French Lick Casino, the West Baden Springs Hotel offers a two-level natatorium, which was recreated based on the original plans, with a dedicated spa, fine dining restaurant and five retail outlets. The unique natatorium/spa features a 12,000-square-foot indoor pool and 8,000-square-foot spa, including treatment rooms, relaxation rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness center. 

West Baden Springs Hotel guests will be able to take advantage of all of French Lick Resort Casino's amenities, including the 42,000-square-foot casino, horseback riding, tennis, bowling and much more. For golf enthusiasts, the resort features the comprehensively restored Donald Ross Course at French Lick, which hosted the 1924 PGA Championship where Walter Hagen was victorious, as well as the forthcoming 18-hole championship Pete Dye Course slated to open in 2008. The nine-hole Tom Bendelow Course at French Lick will open later this summer to supplement the property's practice facilities.

About West Baden Springs Hotel / French Lick Resort Casino
French Lick Resort Casino is a $382 million historic restoration and casino development project that includes the French Lick Springs Hotel, the new French Lick Casino and the West Baden Springs Hotel.  The premier resort and casino destination features 689 guestrooms and suites; a 42,000-square-foot, single-level casino; 45 holes of golf, including the fully restored 1917-era Donald Ross Course at French Lick and the new, 18-hole Pete Dye Course at French Lick (opening 2008); two full-service spas with a combined 36 treatment rooms totaling 41,000 square feet; and an array of dining and entertainment options. For more information, please visit or call 1-888-MyHideaway (888-694-4332).

The ownership group of French Lick Resort Casino comprises Lauth Resorts & Casino, LLC, an affiliate of Lauth Group, Inc., and Orange County Holdings, Inc., an organization formed by the Cook Group family of companies to fund charitable and philanthropic purposes within the state. French Lick Resort Casino is operated by Benchmark Hospitality International.

About Lauth Group, Inc.
Lauth is one of the nation's leading development and construction firms. Over the past 30 years, Lauth has developed more than $3 billion worth of projects throughout the United States and is a licensed general contractor in 49 states. With headquarters in Indianapolis and offices in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Orlando, Phoenix and Pittsburgh, Lauth develops all types of commercial properties. For more information, visit 

About Cook Group, Inc.
The world's largest privately held medical device manufacturer with international headquarters in Bloomington, Ind., COOK® ( is a leading designer, manufacturer and global distributor of minimally invasive medical device technology for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Cook Group also owns and operates real estate, retail management and travel services businesses. Through its real estate development and management company, CFC, Inc., the Cook Group family of companies has placed a special emphasis on preserving architecturally significant buildings in Bloomington and south central Indiana.

About Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International, an independent hospitality management company based in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, operates resorts, conference centers, hotels and condominium resorts both domestically and internationally.  For locations of Benchmark Hospitality properties and for additional information, visit Benchmark's Website at 

* The "Orange Shirts" are a group of area residents who engaged in a successful 10-year grassroots lobbying effort in Indianapolis to support the return of gaming to the French Lick and West Baden area. 


Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications 
201-758-2864 / 201-758-2865-Fax

Linda Jackson
Borshoff Johnson Matthews

Dyan Welsh, Public Relations Manager
French Lick Resort Casino


Also See: Benchmark Opens French Lick Resort Casino; $382 Million Restoration, Casino Development Project / November 2006
Benchmark Completes Restoration of Historic Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort Casino; First of Three Championship Courses at Resort Destination to Open / September 2006


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