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Hyatt Wishes Followers a Happy #HyattHoliday on Instagram

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Does your mantle, bookshelf, or fridge look a little heavy from all of the holiday cards? This year, Hyatt took a social approach and was one of the first brands to take advantage of Instagram’s new direct messaging feature, by sharing a personal and spirited surprise with their most engaged followers.

The photo revealed Hyatt’s social media team, to let followers see the people behind the brand that they’re engaging with every day. That’s right, it’s not just robots!

Many fans have responded with personal messaging about their 2014 travel plans as well as about their recent stays at Hyatt hotels. For more, visit Hyatt on Instagram.

Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Hyatt Hotels

Merry Christmas from America's Sweetest Hotels for the Holidays

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Aside from more affectionate holiday themes like peace and joy, Christmas to me means one thing: sweets. Whether it’s fresh-baked fruitcake, intricately iced gingerbread cookies, or chocolate squares straight out of an Advent calendar, Santa’s not the only one indulging this season. But hotels are pushing the candy-coated envelope when it comes to desserts this holiday. A festive take over at the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas (above) includes an eight-foot-tall reindeer coated in chocolate and a life-size candy house, while an elevator lined in gingerbread bricks at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower shuttles guests to and from the property's Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen. Read on for more of America’s Best Hotels for Christmas.

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Hyatt Place & YouTube Star Sonia Gil Name the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Travelers

Need a gift for a traveler in your life? Or better yet, want to give someone a little inspiration on what to get YOU this season?
 
Globetrotter and YouTube Vlogger, Sonia Gil of “Sonia’s Travels” shares the perfect small gifts for the holidays (think stocking stuffers, Secret Santa, and holiday grab-bag!) on Hyatt Place's new Seamless Travel Series, which is designed to arm travelers with tips to ensure that their travel experience is just right.
 
From packing cubes to gear ties (I need these), and tips on what to do if you forget your charger, her video includes great gifts for travelers.
 
For more on Sonia's expert tips and Hyatt's Seamless Travel Series, visit Hyatt on Facebook.

Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure.

Americans Let Paid Vacation Days Go To Waste

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With the holidays right around the corner, many Americans are cashing in precious vacation days. And while it may seem that offices across the nation are empty, many employees are still hard at work. With only 14 paid days off, on average, it may surprise you to learn that Americans generally let four of those go to waste every year.

This year, Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation Survey revealed that even though Americans get, and use, less paid vacation time than any other country—they didn’t feel nearly as deprived as others.

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Sneak Peek: Breckenridge’s New Peak 6

It’s not every day that a ski resort massively expands out its skiable acres. Maybe it opens a new lift or on-mountain restaurant, but for a resort to increase its footprint by 20% is an enormous undertaking. Yet that’s exactly what Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort is doing with its new mountain, called Peak 6, which opens on Christmas Day. And since I was out in Colorado, I stopped by Breck for a pre-opening look.

First off, the stats: Peak 6 brings 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain (skewing intermediate but pretty evenly split between intermediate and expert trails), three new bowls, eight new cut trails, and two new chairlifts. In all, it’s one of the biggest ski-area terrain expansions in North America in the past decade. And it’s on top of Breck’s existing five peaks, 2,900 acres, four terrain parks, a 22-foot superpipe, 11 bowls, and the highest chairlift in North America.

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Check out Delta's New Holiday Video

We're loving Delta's new holiday video, which features flight attendents, pilots, and other crewmembers making music with improvised instruments—peanuts and service carts, for example. Take a look!

It seems like there's a new airline video every day, as legacy liners and up-and-comers strive to retain loyalty among their flyers. Expect to see a Virgin America holiday video sometime soon.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Affordable Getaways for the Holiday Season

Get away this season to enjoy holiday cheer in a new place—all for under $200 a night.

Maison Fleurie, Yountville, CA

Centrally located in Yountville, this 13-room inn is within walking distance of the town’s holiday decorations, festive shops, and standout restaurants. Enjoy the inn’s complimentary wine and seasonal hors d’oeuvres each afternoon with cranberry-chocolate scones and carafes of hot cocoa. And since you’re in wine country, be sure to celebrate the holiday season by taking a tasting tour at some of the top vineyards in the country—some are in walking distance from the hotel. Doubles from $150/night.

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Andaz Hotels Feature Local Artists With First-Ever Online Holiday Bazaar

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In the season of giving, nothing is more satisfying than knowing your gift is appreciated. Now, Andaz Hotels are ensuring online shoppers that their thoughtful presents will bring smiles near and far with the first-ever Andaz Holiday Bazaar. The boutique hotel group has partnered up with local artists from around the world (think trendsetting cities like New York, London, and Shanghai) to create an eclectic collection of items for purchase on Joyus.com. Not only will your loved one take pride knowing that the hip-hugging Alexander Campaz dress you bought them is one of a kind (seriously—only one was made), but you can take solace that all proceeds from the sale will be donated to Women for Women International (WfWI), a nonprofit organization helping to rebuild the lives of women in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Rwanda.

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Holiday and Airport Travel Tips Straight From Our Experts

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Where are you going for the holidays? We recently asked a panel of travel experts in an Airport and Holiday Travel Twitter Chat, and the answers ranged the gamut.

The Weather Channel is having a “Staycation #HomeForTheHolidays.” T+L International Editor, Mark Orwoll, has a similar plan—he said, “Turns out everyone’s coming to MY house this year. Now I guess I have to invite all of you too, to avoid hurt feelings.” What’s for dinner, Mark? We’re not about to turn down that invitation!

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Airport and Holiday Travel Twitter Chat on Wednesday, November 13th

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Going home for the holidays? Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days of the year and to prepare, we'll be discussing airport and holiday travel strategies, tips, and advice this Wednesday, November 13th from 2-3pm EDT.

Ask our panel of insiders for their expert advice!

The Hosts:

Mark Orwoll, T+L International Editor, @orwoll

Jennifer Flowers, T+L Travel News Editor and Trip Doctor team member, @TLTripDoctor

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