15 Festive Hotels That Make the Holiday Season Even More Magical
The holidays can be stressful, but planning a merry winter getaway doesn't have to be. Whether you want to spend the holidays at a destination far from home or simply want to relax somewhere festive before the holiday chaos begins, these are our top picks for a jolly December vacation.
Depending on where you live, you might want to head for a snowy, wintry locale to get into the spirit. Or you might want to leave cold weather behind and enjoy some warmth and sunshine. Palm trees adorned with Christmas lights look just as appealing as evergreens when you’re relaxing on a beach chair. Many of these hotels have special events and activities for families, while others are ideal for adult vacations.
Wherever you want to be, whether close to home or far away, you can find the right place to celebrate. Want to avoid cooking? Delicious meals await. Too tired or busy to decorate? That’s been done for you too. Looking for ways to keep the young ones entertained as their excitement builds? Planned activities keep them busy and give you a break. These destinations will meet all your holiday expectations, and more.
La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta, CA
In honor of the beloved Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” written by frequent guest Frank Capra, the resort will transform into Bedford Falls, the film’s fictional setting. Holiday events at the resort include a November 30 Tree Lighting Ceremony with carols, cookies, cocoa, and a visit from Santa Claus. Every Friday in December, chestnuts will be roasting by the fireplace in the main lobby. On select Saturdays and Sundays in December, the hotel will offer buffet breakfasts featuring photos with Santa.
Refinery Hotel, New York, New York
Experience a quintessential New York City Christmas with a stay at the Refinery Hotel. Book the "Refinery’s Winter Spectacular Stay Package" for a very festive stay, complete with an in-room Christmas tree, cookies and milk, and more. Guests who opt for this package can also purchase special discounted tickets to see The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes! The hotel's Midtown Manhattan location means you're just steps away from the city's most famous sites.
Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, Tennessee
Decorated with more than three million lights, 15,000 poinsettias, 15 miles of garland, and a 48-foot-tall Christmas tree, Opryland is a festive paradise during the holiday season. The resort will also feature sculptures carved from nearly 7,000 giant blocks of ice by 40 ice artisans from Harbin, home of China’s famous ice festival. Entertainment at Opryland includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Musical, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, tubing, gingerbread decorating, live performances, and special holiday meals.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside, California
On November 29, the 27th annual Festival of Lights at The Mission Inn will kick off at 5:00 p.m., instantly illuminating more than five million lights and 200 animated figures to mark the beginning of the five-week holiday festival. A buffet prime rib dinner with Santa in the Grand Parisian Ballroom will follow at 6:30. After dinner, stroll along paths to view the castle-like hotel’s elaborate decorations, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, or visit the nearby markets for refreshments and holiday shopping.
Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, South Dakota
Make this historic hotel your home base as you enjoy holiday festivities near Mount Rushmore. Take a ride on the vintage steam train’s Holiday Express, complete with hot cocoa, cookies, stories, and a visit from Santa. Join the festivities at Main Street Square on November 30, where there will be ice skating, shopping, the Festival of Lights Parade, and photos with Santa.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico
Families will enjoy experiencing the Magical Holidays at Las Ventanas — highlights include Christmas Eve dinner and Santa’s arrival on Christmas Day. Guests who stay to ring in the new year at the resort will enjoy live music, fireworks, dancing, and special culinary displays. The children’s Explorer Club will keep young ones busy with ceramic painting, decorating gingerbread houses, creating Yule logs and sandcastles, and more.
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
Spend a cozy Christmas full of sleigh rides, a gingerbread house contest, snowmobile tours, and a visit from Santa at The Resort at Paws Up, your wintry home away from home. Gourmet dining, Christmas stockings, a Christmas Eve party for kids, and your own decorated tree will make this a holiday vacation to remember.
Sagamore Pendry, Baltimore, Maryland
Enjoy the holiday atmosphere and decorations in the hotel’s open-air courtyard, with fire pits, warm winter cocktails, spiked hot chocolate, mulled wine, and cider. Create your own Christmas decor or a handmade gift at the annual holiday wreath-making class on December 2. Shop at the holiday pop-ups for gifts and stocking stuffers.
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach, California
Look for Kris Kringle story time in the Main Estate lobby on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 22-December 22 starting at 3:00 p.m. Young guests will enjoy bedtime stories and treats from Santa’s elves or a call from Santa from December 18-24. (arranged through the concierge). Parents and children are invited to decorate gingerbread houses on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 15. Christmas Day brunch and fun children’s activities will be offered in the ballroom.
The Ballantyne, Charlotte, North Carolina
Think about entering the 2019 Gingerbread House competition, and then stroll through Gingerbread Lane from December 4-26 to vote for your favorite creation. The annual tree lighting will be held on December 1 at 4:30, and carolers and hot cocoa will add to the festivities. The Christmas Ballroom Brunch on December 25 will feature holiday cuisine from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Drake Oak Brook, Oak Brook, Illinois
This newly renovated hotel is the place to be during the holiday season for local events and their children’s Breakfast with Santa on December 20 and 21 or Brunch with Santa on December 15 and 22. The hotel offers seasonal activities like wreath making and greeting card workshops, cookie and ornament decoration, and more, and it will be serving a special Christmas Eve dinner.
Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii
A Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony is planned for each evening from December 22-30. Caroling, concerts, a Christmas Eve children’s party, and Santa’s arrival by outrigger canoe on Christmas Day are among the holiday festivities you'll find at this resort. The tree lighting ceremony will be on December 8, and a Moonlight Market will be held on December 14 featuring gifts and the work of local artists.
Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, Idaho
Get into the spirit with a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow from December 21-January 1, 2020, offered every half hour from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. On December 24, the “Skating in a Winter Wonderland” ice show will entertain with professional skaters and classic holiday music. The Torchlight Parade down Dollar Mountain follows the show, and hot cocoa will be served.
Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, Florida
The holiday season begins on November 29 with the annual Christmas tree lighting and character parade featuring cookies, cocoa, and photos with Santa. Family bonfires with smores and live music will be held on November 30 and December 28. On December 15, check out the holiday boat parade on Lake Boca and enjoy dinner under the stars followed by dancing.
Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas
From December 20 to January 5, Baha Mar will celebrate the holiday season with entertainment, activities, rum tastings, culinary adventures, dancing, and even an ice skating performance on the only “Glice” skating rink in the Caribbean. At night, enjoy a live skate show or head to the nightclub dance party with cirque performances and a light show. Kids will love hanging out at the Explorers Club and seeing a traditional Bahamian holiday parade.