Not a White Christmas: 11 Warm and Festive Hotels for Holiday Vacations
Sure, snow is beautiful. But do you really need Jack Frost nipping at your nose to know it's the holiday season? We think not. This year, consider trading in your tacky Christmas sweaters and fleece-lined slippers for swimsuits, sunglasses, and short-sleeved T's.
We've scoured the globe for hotels and resorts both year-round good weather and exceptional yuletide festivities. All of these properties practically include blue skies in the room rate, and have given Christmas meals, décor, and activities a balmy, sunshine-filled backdrop.
Forgo the frostbite without missing out on the season's festive fun. From the Caribbean and the American southwest, these destination properties will fill your holidays with seasonal cheer.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona
If you're the parent of a wannabe little princess or prince, the Fairmont Princess will live up to their storybook dreams. Families can spend the holidays ice skating in the desert, taking a train ride around a lagoon lit by 2 million LED lights, and ride a Christmas carousel. Blink too quickly, and you may even mistake the simulated snowfalls for a New England blizzard. Your children are sure to love meeting Christmas characters like Princess Noel and Peppermint the Penguin, though grown-ups can always escape to one of two championship golf courses or the upscale spa.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa in Fiji
Those seeking an antidote to the Black Friday mobs will cherish the remoteness of this all-inclusive Fijian resort. Guests stay in 18 thatched, beachfront bungalows complete with hammock, daybeds, outdoor showers, and other amenities to coax you into a state of total relaxation. The resort is even planning special holiday meals, so you don't have to worry about missing your favorite holiday dishes. If you can't pry yourself out of your sun lounger to participate in the festivities, you're in luck: on Christmas morning, a choir from nearby Bukama Village will go door to door serenading guests.
Raffles in Singapore
Walk in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham this holiday season at the colonial-style Raffles Singapore. Opened in 1887, the property underwent a $160 million renovation after the Singapore government declared it a national monument. Today, guests can have a classic—and quite ritzy—holiday with festive afternoon teas from December 9-23 (they'll serve fruit cakes, stolen, and chocolate log cakes). Meanwhile, Chef Mickael Le Calvez is planning a five-course contemporary French dinner on Christmas Eve, and a buffet in the bar and billiard room for Christmas Day.
Hawks Cay Resort in Florida
Florida offers many promising Christmas destinations, but this award-winning resort halfway down the Florida Keys goes above and beyond. You'll have plenty of opportunities to partake in seasonal activities without stepping off the property. There's an on-site Holidazzle Parade, story time with Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating sessions, and opportunities for the kids to craft letters to Santa. The Christmas package includes two-for-one deals on kayak and Segway rentals, as well as discounts on (much-needed) spa treatments.
Angama Mara in Kenya
Glamp your way through the holidays at the dazzling Angama Mara, one of the year's most exciting hotel openings. Guests who are hearing the "call of the wild" this winter can head to the remote Mara plains, known for outstanding year-round wildlife viewing. On Christmas Eve, conclude your daytime safari with an elegant candlelit dinner. Christmas Day includes a safari, holiday picnic, teatime with Christmas cake, and a special performance by local Maasai children.
Hotel Del Coronado in California
Beach meets winter wonderland at the famous Victorian hotel on Coronado Island. The Hotel Del Coronado is bringing its beachfront ice skating rink back for a 12th season. Expect palm trees dusted with fake snow, a daily light show projecting onto a giant Christmas tree, scavenger hunts, an elf tuck-in service for the kids, and nighttime holiday light bike rides for the whole family. The hotel will serve traditional holiday buffet dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and your classic holiday teas.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis
Originally a sugar plantation, later a coconut plantation, this property became the island of Nevis' first hotel in the 1950s—And travelers have sought sun and tranquility under the palms ever since. In Nevis, the December holidays are called "the festive season." The Nisbet celebrates with school choirs singing Christmas carols, gift giving with Santa and his elves, a staff-versus-guest cricket match, a round robin tennis tournament, and a rum punch party. (This is the Caribbean, after all.)
Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen Resort in Mexico
Come the holiday season, this boutique resort delivers its own take on the posada, or ritual reenactment of Mary and Joseph's fruitless search for a Bethlehem hotel. Nightly celebrations will begin on December 16, leading up to the grand posada on December 23. Expect Christmas caroling, piñatas, and a feast featuring churros and tamales. In keeping with Mexican tradition, the official Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve. The resort will offer two options: A family-friendly buffet with a Santa visit, and a more luxe, sophisticated event with a special dinner prepared by Chef John Corey Collins, craft cocktails, and a live DJ.
Viceroy Zihuatanejo in Mexico
On the Pacific side of Mexico, guests of the Viceroy Zihuatenejo can take a dip in the private pools, walk down to the charming fishing village, or choose from multiple holiday dinners and parties. Go traditional with Chef Eduardo Avila's roasted turkey dinner. Of course, there's always the Mexican buffet with mariachi music or the Mediterranean buffet to consider.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in Thailand
Instead of spending Christmas fighting with the relatives, hang out with elephants. This resort at the junction of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos rescues elephants from unfortunate living situations. Listen to pachyderms trumpet as you relax poolside, visit the spa, or try one of the ethical elephant experiences. Dress in white and gold to visit the Akha hill tribe for a dance performance, and join the poolside buffet dinner with both Thai as well as Christmas specialties like roast turkey, eggnog, and mulled wine. We can also promise that carolers will sing, and Santa will come bearing gifts.
The Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman
From chocolate elves in the lobby to the gingerbread house workshop, the Ritz-Carlton does Christmas big. Guests can join Chef Melissa Logan as she makes yule logs, or take a hands-off approach to the holidays and sip champagne at brunch on Christmas Day. The staff also invites guests to participate in a giving program for the local community. This is vacation you can feel really good about.