Out with old. In with the new.
Why settle for a celebration like last New Year's Eve? You know, don a lampshade. Toot a horn. Toast the same faces as the clock runs down and the real fun happens in New York City's Times Square.
It may be time to give your plans a romantic boost with a getaway. Cincy found three options, all within three hours, to fan the flames.
If the magnificent 200-foot domed atrium of the West Baden Springs Hotel, built in 1902 and restored in 2005, doesn't take your breath away, then the European luxury of the French Lick, Ind., resort will. Six stories of rooms and Romeo-worthy balconies surround the dome called the "eighth wonder of the world." The resort was designed after the grand spas of Europe to capitalize on the mineral springs in the area.
Today's impeccable restoration includes 243 luxury rooms and suites, a natatorium with indoor lap pool, sumptuous spa, salon and fitness center, shops, historic tours, and dining and grounds aglitter for the holidays. Golf and trail rides (weather permitting), indoor tennis and beautiful walking grounds are nearby for the outdoor set.
Dinner and dancing in the grand atrium starts at 7:30 p.m. New Year's Eve. But be sure to leave plenty of time beforehand to take advantage of all the activities and pampering with a couples massage. Then you will be ready to foxtrot or salsa cheek-to-cheek to music by the Al Cobine Big Band. Jackets are required at this soiree. Packages start at $599 per couple and include lodging, dinner for two, entertainment in the atrium, open bar and midnight champagne toast.
The partner French Lick Springs Hotel, also renovated, celebrated its heyday at the turn of the 20th century and is "putting on the Ritz" for a Roaring Twenties New Year's Eve with buffet, drinks, desserts and swinging to two bands till the wee hours. Packages start at $459 per couple.
Not to worry if two left feet keep you off the dance floor. The French Lick Casino's slot machines, table games, promotions and giveaways are nearby with a VIP High Limit room, lounge, restaurants and entertainment.
French Lick Resort, 8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, Ind. (888) 936-9360 or www.frenchlick.com.
Those more comfortable hanging out with Mother Nature under the stars will find Hueston Woods in Oxford a host with spectacular winter settings.
The lodge's rooms have been handsomely remodeled, and luxury suites have two rooms overlooking Acton Lake, plasma TVs, treadmills, wet bars, whirlpools and personal robes. Those with a yen for Thoreau "” or more privacy "” can choose from three types of cottages about a mile from the lodge with fireplaces, grills and fire pits. They offer access to the lodge's pool and amenities. Hiking, paintball (with reservations), swimming, horseshoes, geo-caching, disc golf, daily nature walks and talks, or just sitting around one of the lodge's bonfire (s'mores kits at the front desk) are options for those more comfortable in Birkenstocks than black tie. And, if Mother Nature cooperates, bring along your cross-country skis.
The Fireside Room at the Hueston Woods Lodge hosts a 8 p.m.-1 a.m. hearthside fest with a DJ (face painting, crafts and games for the kids), snacks, cash bar and a midnight buffet with a champagne toast. An earlier New Year's Eve buffet offers prime rib with roast garlic au jus, smoked kielbasa with red cabbage, feta stuffed chicken breast in lemon beurre blanc and bourbon buttered rum cake. $139 and up.
Hueston Woods, 5201 Lodge Road, College Corner, Ohio. (513) 664-3500 or
Head south to Harrodsburg, Ky., for a quiet-and-cozy romantic interlude and some small-town Southern-style hospitality. The Beaumont Inn, built in 1845 and once a school shaping the young ladies of yesteryear, is now a hilltop haven of hospitality run by the Dedman family who can teach you a thing or two about antiques and will put Paula Deen to shame. (There's a 1893 Steinway grand in the lobby and the "yellow-legged fried chicken" is legendary.)
Rightfully listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn's three historic buildings are furnished with antiques. There's draft beer and casual dining in the Old Owl tavern and Owl's Nest Lounge, and the main dining room spotlights traditional Kentucky cuisine, including cornmeal batter cakes so good you can skip the butter. The Bell Cottage on the grounds specializes in spa-style pampering, and you can order in-room extras like fresh flowers, chocolates and champagne. The nearby distilleries, part of Kentucky's Bourbon Trail, are part of the fun, but if you want to stay put the Innkeeper's personalized "Bourbon Tasting with Dixon" is the way to go. He'll take you through taste profiles, history and nuances of up to six mahogany beauties for $35 per person.
The picturesque town of Harrodsburg is a short 10-minute walk with its historic homes and restored Main Street. There are suggestions aplenty on nearby day trips including Shaker Village and Kentucky Horse Park. $99 and up.
Beaumont Inn, 638 Beaumont Inn Drive, Harrodsburg, Ky. (800) 352-3992, (859) 734-3381 or www.beaumontinn.com.