Best Hotel Santas
Sliding down a chimney is so cliché. But a Santa who skydives? Now that’s a holiday spectacle worth traveling for. And that’s how he’ll arrive this year at the Four Seasons Mauritius, which orchestrates a dramatic new entrance for St. Nick every year (last year’s was by pirate ship).
Santa, of course, visits lots of resorts over the holiday travel season. But the Four Seasons and other hotels are taking that visit to a spectacular new level, giving travelers one more reason to jet off to a relaxing resort during a traditionally stressful time.
Experiencing these dramatic arrivals may take some planning. Sometimes, Santa makes his entrance on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Other times, he shows up as early as November (and may make return visits to accommodate guest schedules). Either way, it’s usually not going to cost you extra: in keeping with the Christmas spirit, Santa’s activities are included in the resort fee.
Even better, Santa usually sticks around and makes himself available for photo ops, mingling with guests at a children’s party or joining them for a swim.
So what qualifies as a great entrance? At the Oberoi, Sahl Hasheesh, on the Red Sea, Santa ditches his reindeer and arrives by camel. He and his caravan then join a children’s party with gifts for all the kids, who also get a chance to go for camel rides. And Santa makes sure that each child gets a stocking filled with holiday cookies.
You don’t have to travel to an exotic location to experience a dramatic entrance. At the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, hotel guests are all given jingling bells to welcome Santa, who arrives in a classic horse-drawn sleigh. There’s a life-size ice sculpture of his sleigh and reindeer, and a holiday party known as the Gingerbread Ball.
This year, don’t settle for an ordinary hotel Santa. Pack up the kids and your holiday gifts and check out these resorts where Santa’s entrance is—like the holiday season itself—extraordinary.
When celebrating Christmas on a relatively remote island, Santa loses all of his inhibitions and plans a different grand arrival every year on Christmas Day. Last year, he came in on a pirate ship accompanied by dancers and invited all the young maties aboard for a sail. This year, he plans to skydive into the resort. After a safe landing, he distributes gifts to the kids—usually a local product like a jute bag or a traditional dance costume.
As the sun sets on Christmas Eve, Santa pulls up in an outrigger canoe on Waikiki Beach. Hotel guests along with a traditional keiki hula troupe greet Santa, who then hosts an exclusive children’s party complete with balloon makers, piñatas, and snacks. Santa also attends a more formal reception for teenagers later that evening.
C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado
Every so often, Santa likes to make a traditional entrance. On Christmas Eve, families are given their own turkey to carve, along with all the classic fixings. Just as the carols are being sung around the fireplace, Santa arrives on a horse-drawn sleigh. He has a big bag of gifts that he distributes to the kids. Families also get individual Christmas trees in their lodge rooms.
IndigoBay Resort, Mozambique
Guests staying at Indigo Bay usually have to take several planes to reach this remote island. But on Christmas Day, Santa takes an alternative route, arriving in a traditional dhow boat made by local craftsmen from a hollowed tree trunk. He then gives out gifts to the kids. Dressed in red board shorts, Santa can frequently be seen swimming or fishing with guests.
TheOberoi, Sahl Hasheesh, Egypt
Santa gets into the spirit of the desert on Christmas Day, arriving at this Red Sea resort by camel. He and his caravan then attend a children’s party, where he distributes gifts. There are camel rides, face painting, and a holiday lunch with Santa. Santa makes sure each child gets a stocking filled with holiday cookies.
On Christmas Eve, all hotel guests are given jingling bells to welcome Santa, who makes a classic entrance on a horse-drawn sleigh. Santa leads guests to a life-size ice sculpture of his sleigh and reindeer and poses for photos. He is the guest of honor at the Gingerbread Ball (more photos outside the Gingerbread House) and takes part in a holiday sing-along.
It’s not often that Santa can fit a round of golf into his schedule, but when he makes an entrance at Half Moon on Christmas Day, he comes in on a golf cart. Santa then gives each child a backpack filled with toys, books, and candy, and sticks around for photos. (He’s assisted by Jamaican folklore hero Anansi the spider.) Families can join in a tree-lighting ceremony and sandcastle-building contest.
Ritz-Carlton,Laguna Niguel, California
Families staying at Laguna Bay get treated to a surfer Santa who arrives in a red woody car with a surfboard on top and a big bag of candy canes. Santa comes a little early to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony, then joins the kids during a holiday story hour. Locally, there’s a Surfing Santa Competition, proceeds from which support Surfers Healing, an autism foundation.
On Christmas Eve, guests go down to the bay to greet Santa, who arrives by ferry. Santa, assisted by his elves, gives each child a present, including toy cars and stuffed animals. While waiting for Santa’s arrival, adults are served eggnog and mulled wine and also get surprise gifts in their rooms.
HaymanGreat Barrier Reef, Australia
When visiting children down under, Santa likes to make a grand entrance on Christmas morning. While most guests arrive on a launch, Santa drops down in a helicopter on Hayman Beach. After the dust has settled, he distributes gifts to all of the children. Families then celebrate a traditional Christmas dinner with plum pudding and a chocolate fountain.
Ritz-Carlton,Amelia Island, Florida
Early in the Christmas season, Santa arrives at Amelia Island in a horse-drawn carriage along a drive lined with guests and local families to help light the tree. He distributes snacks and drinks and then makes an appearance at the Santa Storybook Tea Party and the Holiday Character Dinner. Every weekend leading up to Christmas, Santa, escorted by an elf, tucks children into bed and reads them a story.