Nothing says “happy holidays” like an extravagant Christmas display. Hoteliers know this. That’s why every winter hotels across the country get dressed in their holiday best, with twinkly lights and holly wreaths and maybe a reindeer lawn ornament or two. But only a handful of hotels truly go all out. From stories-high Christmas trees to beachfront ice skating rinks, these nine US holiday hotels take seasonal cheer to a whole new level.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess — Scottsdale, Arizona
Every year the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess performs a Christmas miracle: It turns the Sonoran Desert into a winter wonderland. The transformation starts with over six million LED lights, 70,000 of which are threaded around a giant tree in the resort’s Enchanted Plaza. Next comes 6,000 square feet of actual ice in the shape of a desert skating rink, an alpine skate track and 120-foot sledding hill at The Village, and a s’mores-ready campfire in the Christmas tree forest. Even Santa makes an appearance for meet-and-greets.
Price: $639 per night
Hotel del Coronado — San Diego, California
San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado has become an unlikely holiday destination, thanks to the oceanfront ice rink the hotel sets up every winter. Activities like starlight holiday movie screenings and Jingle Roast s’mores sessions around private bonfires help sell the idea of a California Christmas. But Christmas dinner is where the hotel really shines, with a grand buffet in the Crown and Coronet Rooms. There’s also a Roaring ‘20s-themed New Year’s Eve Gala here, for those who want to keep the festivities going.
Price: $645 per night
Gaylord Opryland — Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center promises a “country Christmas” with dozens of activities starting in November. Guests can try ice skating, ice tubing, or even ice bumper bars; hop in a horse-drawn carriage; cruise the resort’s Delta Atrium in a riverboat; and catch holiday dinner shows before enjoying the nightly tree lighting and caroling. With tons of kid-focused activities such as a Build-A-Bear workshop and Santa’s Spinner ride, Gaylord Opryland is particularly fun for families with little ones.
Price: $369 per night
The Plaza Hotel — New York, New York
Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel is a New York City icon. Especially at Christmas. Second to Rockefeller Center’s Norway spruce, The Plaza decorates one of the city’s glitziest trees, which in the past has reached almost 20 feet tall, featured close to 1,000 ornaments, and had fun themes such as “Eloise” and “The Great Gatsby.” Gourmands will appreciate the holiday menus at the hotel’s fine-dining Palm Court restaurant, with a special Christmas Grand Buffet on the 25th.
Price: $1,299 per night
The Resort at Paws Up — Greenough, Montana
The Resort at Paws Up is offering a special “Montana Christmas” package this holiday season. The offer includes a five-night stay in a luxury vacation home, complete with your very own Christmas tree, plus entry into a gingerbread-house-building contest, a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, and a $500 resort gift card per person per stay. Meals and round-trip airport transfers are also included. On the ranch, guests have their pick of winter activities, from cross-country and downhill skiing to fat biking, snowmobiling, dog sledding, tubing, and skijoring, a sport that involves strapping on skis and being pulled by a horse or dog.
Price: $1,637 per night
The Cloister at Sea Island — Sea Island, Georgia
This five-star resort on a private island in Georgia goes all out for Christmas, from its elegant decorations to its roster of holiday events. This year’s kid-friendly festivities will include a Reindeer Dash Family Fun Run, storytime with Santa’s elves, and ornament-decorating workshops. Even the furry, four-legged members of your family are invited to get in on the fun at the 19th annual Reindog Parade, costumes encouraged. Top it off with a big Christmas Eve dinner in the Cloister Ballroom, and it’ll be a holiday to remember.
Price: $1,063 per night
The Roosevelt — New Orleans, Louisiana
It comes as no surprise that one of the grandest holiday hotels in New Orleans stages one of the most breathtaking Christmas displays. Walking through the lobby is an event in its own right, owing to more than 100,000 glittering lights, dozens of Christmas trees decorated with over 1,000 glass ornaments, over 1,500 feet of garland, and magical displays of birch boughs and wreaths. Don’t be surprised if you see non-guests lining up for selfies.
Price: $448 per night
Mohonk Mountain House — New Paltz, New York
This Victorian castle turned upstate New York resort does the holidays Dickens style. Beginning Christmas Eve, guests can participate in a host of yuletide fun, from decorating cookies and graham cracker houses to competing in a yule log scavenger hunt that kicks off with Christmas trivia. Mohonk Mountain House also makes it easy to enjoy the wintry Hudson Valley air. Think ice skating, Catskills snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing on 30-plus miles of groomed trails.
Price: $655 per night
The Hotel Hershey — Hershey, Pennsylvania
Leave it to the chocolate capital of America to host one of the nation’s most delicious Christmas celebrations. During the holidays at Hotel Hershey, guests not only get five-star service but also access to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, a town-wide holiday extravaganza. There are roller coasters, sweets-themed eateries like The Chocolatier restaurant, and a resident Santa complete with an entourage of reindeer. Treat the kids to a trip to “The Sweetest Place on Earth” this holiday season, and consider your Christmas gifts covered.
Price: $279 per night
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