In the lap of luxury
Pamper yourself this winter at these warm and cozy Midwestern retreats, where you can escape from all of your worries

By Lori Erickson
Published: Jan/Feb 2001

The Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa, is decorated throughout in the Arts and Crafts style, from the elegant lobby (above) to the bowling alley that features two lanes. /Hotel Pattee photo
After spending a season giving gifts, give a present to yourself–a weekend getaway at a luxurious hotel.

As cold and ice descend on the Midwest, many properties tempt travelers with special amenities and packages. In these warm and cozy retreats, you can relax far away from day-to-day pressures, and the most pressing question is what to order for dinner. Read on for a sampling of what’s offered at some of the region’s best hotels.


A welcoming fire greets visitors to the grand Hotel Pattee. Located in Perry, just northwest of Des Moines, Iowa’s newest AAA Four Diamond hotel is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style. The downtown landmark, which first opened in 1913, underwent a multimillion dollar renovation in the mid-1990s that transformed it into one of the Midwest’s most elegant properties.

Each of its 40 rooms and suites celebrates a different aspect of local and
state history, from the Amana Colonies to Scandinavian immigrants. Many rooms overlook the hotel’s two sculpture gardens.

Try the hotel’s Revitalize Getaway package, available Sunday–Thursday, and receive a night’s lodging, dinner for two in David’s Milwaukee Diner, breakfast/room service for two, his and her massages, use of the fitness center and spa, and two games of bowling at the hotel’s own lanes. Prices begin at $310.

The Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has eight luxury suites and 32 rooms with whirlpools. /Ameristar Casino photo
In Council Bluffs, the Ameristar Casino Hotel welcomes guests to a complex that also includes the popular Ameristar II, Iowa’s largest riverboat. The 160-room hotel, AAA’s only Four Diamond riverboat property, offers eight luxury suites and 32 whirlpool rooms, many with a view of the Missouri River. Among its amenities are live musical entertainment seven nights a week, a supervised children’s entertainment area, a fitness center, spa and sauna.

Packages include a Romance Rendezvous, dinner at the hotel’s Waterfront Grill, a breakfast voucher and champagne. Prices begin at $195.


A perfect winter getaway in Topeka, the intimate Senate Luxury Suites offers 52 guestrooms, each with either a romantic balcony or an enclosed porch. The structure was built as a sophisticated apartment complex in the late 1920s and underwent a three-year renovation before re-opening as a hotel in 1991.

The Tudor-style building provides a convenient hideaway in the heart of Topeka’s business district, near the State Capitol and many other historic landmarks. A weekend getaway package for two starting at $155 per night includes a suite with a hot tub, evening cocktail reception and continental breakfast.

In Wichita, The Inn at Willowbend overlooks one of the finest golf clubs in Kansas, but even when the winter winds blow, this is an attractive destination. As the only AAA Four Diamond property in the city, the family-owned hotel offers suites with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs, as well as standard rooms. Guests enjoy complimentary home-cooked breakfasts and evening cocktails. King- and queen-sized rooms offer a weekend rate starting at $59 per night.


Missouri’s scenic Lake of the Ozarks is home to three premier resorts, each
nestled among beautiful rolling hills.

The Country Club Hotel & Spa brings European elegance to the Midwest. The AAA Four Diamond resort offers rooms and suites in the main hotel or in countryside villas. Amenities include indoor tennis courts, a health club, swimming pool, live jazz in the evening, massage therapy and TennisUniversity, an instructional camp certain to improve your game.

The resort’s Winter Holiday Family Package includes breakfast and dinner for two in the club’s restaurant, one hour of tennis, an in-room evening movie, and a morning or afternoon children’s play camp for two children. Rates begin at $319 per night.

Another upscale property overlooking the lake’s winding shoreline is The Lodge of Four Seasons. Stay in a guest room, suite or condo as you enjoy Spa Shiki (the resort’s full-service spa) and dinners at the steakhouse or Continental restaurant with live entertainment in its lounge. Children, meanwhile, will enjoy the resort’s Adventure Club.

Special packages for adults include Romance at the Lodge, which offers accommodations for two nights, dinner and breakfast for two, and two massages. Prices begin at $589 per couple.

Marriott’s Tan-Tar-A provides a third tempting retreat from the real world. Its 420 acres spread along the Lake of the Ozarks includes an array of sporting opportunities ranging from indoor tennis and bowling to ice skating. Nine restaurants and lounges cater to guests, including a hunting lodge serving hearty Ozark favorites.

Book Tan-Tar-A’s Spa Getaway and enjoy a massage, facial and full-body aroma wrap. In warmer weather, golf packages also are available. In addition, young ones will enjoy the activities offered at Camp Tan-Tar-A. Prices for a double room begin at $90.

In Excelsior Springs, located 30 minutes north of Kansas City, The Elms Resort & Spa recalls a more gracious age. Since its construction in the late1880s, the hotel has been a luxurious retreat for those seeking the healing properties of the site’s mineral waters, and it has attracted guests ranging from Al Capone to Harry Truman. Its spa continues to offer a variety of therapeutic treatments, including seaweed wraps, mineral baths and stress-reduction techniques.

Outside, enjoy hiking trails and a challenge course, complete with a climbing wall, a ropes course and a Burma bridge. Then retreat indoors for a yoga session followed by dinner at ADEGA, featuring original American cuisine.

The Elms’ Bed-and-Breakfast Package includes a free breakfast for two and a 10-percent discount on spa services. Advanced reservations are required. Prices begin at $159 a night per couple.


Omaha’s Old Market area is one of the Midwest’s liveliest entertainment and shopping districts, and the Embassy Suites Downtown/Old Market puts you right in the center of the action. Each suite includes a living area with a microwave and refrigerator, and breakfast and evening beverages are complimentary.

The hotel’s $185 Old Market Getaway features dinner at the Falling Water Grille and a romantic carriage ride through the Old Market area.

An hour west in Lincoln, The Cornhusker is close to museums, restaurants and the State Capitol. On the premises, guests can enjoy an indoor pool, fitness center and two fine restaurants. Try the $200 Celebration Package for an overnight stay in a suite with champagne, valet parking and a $20 gift certificate for dining or room service.

Wherever you choose to stay, perhaps the best amenity that these properties have to offer is the “Please do not disturb” sign that you hang on the doorknob. The snow may not be thawing outside, but your cares will melt away as you rest and relax in comfort. What better present could you give yourself?

Lori Erickson is a contributor from Iowa City, Iowa.

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