Home for the holidays is great, but getting away from home for the holidays can be even better. Here’s a look at some of my favorite holiday vacation spots and what they’re showing off for this holiday season.
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa
Situated along 1,000 feet of Atlantic shoreline, the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa in north Palm Beach County, Fla., has a 12-foot beach-themed Christmas tree in the lobby, dressed up in turquoise and silver decorations (think seashells and miniature sailboats). A festive display of reindeer, Santa’s little helpers and a lounge chair is also set up in the lobby for guests to pose in a DIY holiday postcard.
One of the top hotels on Florida’s west coast, the Sandpearl Resort’s lobby – The Living Room – has a massive 10,000 pound sand sculpture depicting a group of carolers. On Christmas Day, guests sing with the sand carolers, take a stroll on the beach, swim in the lagoon pool, and eat brunch at the terrific Caretta on the Gulf restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
During Christmas week, the desert island has festivities featuring eggnog, rum and tequila tastings, Christmas cookies, as well as activities such as a Papiamento language class, cupcake and ornament decoration, and sandcastle making. Holiday feasting is in abundance with daily themed dinner nights at La Vista (Italian, seafood, and lobster nights), and a Christmas Eve buffet, and a Christmas Day brunch and dinner. A sweet holiday tradition that adds to holiday at the hotel is the 400-pound sugar village crafted entirely from sugar every year. This year’s village display encompasses five square meters, showcasing island destinations and colorful houses built to replicate Aruba’s Dutch heritage, along with turquoise waters, cacti, and holiday lights and décor.
The Hotel Zamora
Located in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Hotel Zamota is a Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel located just across the street from one of the Gulf Coast’s best beaches. The property is bringing the holiday spirit to sunny St. Pete Beach with a Christmas Stocking Stuffer Picnic Basket For Two that includes stuffed challah lamb sandwiches made with roasted garlic leg of lamb, shaved rosemary, tzatziki, oven-dried tomatoes and mint pesto, with candy-cane peppermint cheesecake lollipops for dessert.
San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
A quick getaway from many major U.S. cities (no passport required), San Juan has beaches, city celebrations, and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and activities. At San Juan Marriott, guests can sip on the city’s signature holiday drink, Coquito (made with rum from the Bacardi Rum Factory in San Juan), and dance at Red Coral Lounge and enjoy locally-inspired holiday dinners on Christmas Eve and Day at La Vista Latin Grill, all while enjoying live music. Aside from the exciting atmosphere inside the hotel, the pool is where the action is with a snow machine, mini parrandas, a mermaid, sunset fire dancers, jugglers, and colorful performers on stilts during the week of Christmas. Make sure to grab a frozen treat from the hotel’s new gelato shop, Gelato & Co.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club
Only a five-minute drive from Sarasota’s trendy St. Armand’s Circle, the resort on Dec. 24 will offer complimentary bites and hot chocolate. The Dickens Carolers will sing holiday songs in the hotel’s lobby. On Christmas Day, the beachfront resort will host Christmas dinner at the Harbourside Ballroom Delight.
Located on Barbados’ south coast, Turtle Beach is an all-inclusive resort designed for active and epicurean travelers seeking an authentic, experiential escape. Guests can enjoy an Elves Scavenger Hunt, Christmas caroling, sandcastle building competitions, beach cricket and island-inspired classes such as stilt walking, calypso dancing and pastry making.
Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa / Barga, Italy
Now this is Christmas – perched on a hill overlooking the Serchio Valley in one of the most undiscovered areas of Italy and about an hour outside of Florence and Pisa. The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa’s “Tuscan Christmas’’ package includes accommodations in a classic room, daily breakfast, Italian Panettone (a traditional cake eaten during Christmas time) decorating classes, and a Christmas lunch.
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino
On Dec. 25, guests and locals can celebrate Christmas with a brunch that has choices including omelet and pasta stations, breakfast pastries, carving stations, homemade desserts and more. The Emerald Mist Spa features seasonally inspired treatment specials such as Chocolate Mint Body Treatments, Gingerbread Foot Treatments, and Arctic Berry Radiance Facials.
CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
All throughout the season, guests get the best the resort has to offer, from specials at the Ohtli Spa to delicious holiday meals in one of the its several restaurants. CasaMagna has the largest spa in Puerto Vallarta and guests can choose from My Christmas Present, The Santa Claus Gift and Happy Holidays packages for a variety of spa treatments like the Agave Exfoliation, massages and Berry Spa Treatments. Celebrate Christmas at La Estancia with a buffet featuring fluffy pancakes for breakfast, and a turkey carving station, as well as choices including Pork Loin, Sea Bass and other main courses.
Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center
Escape the frenzy of a modern Christmas with the “Christmas by Candlelight’’ package at the Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center – a New England hotel that blends old-age charm with state-of-the-art facilities. Guests can enjoy an evening of gingerbread houses, roasted chestnuts, holiday music and sleigh rides at Old Sturbridge Village, one of New England’s top attractions that is minutes away from the hotel. The package includes overnight accommodations for two, two passes to the Old Sturbridge Village daily Christmas by Candlelight activities, breakfast for two in Visions Restaurant on the day of departure, as well as complimentary use of Focus fitness center, indoor pool, racquetball courts and indoor basketball courts.
W Minneapolis – The Foshay
In the age of going green, W Minneapolis – The Foshay hotel is spreading holiday cheer with a tin Christmas tree. To celebrate the hotel’s dynamic history, fashion-forward focus and innovative cocktail culture, the tree is decorated with ornaments made of cocktail glasses and vintage alarm clocks hand-dipped in pink paint, with sparkling disco balls rather than conventional baubles that light up the original lobby from the 1920’s with a signature pink glow. The display is also revving up the excitement for a pulsating #stoptheclock2016 New Year’s Eve Bubble Ball that will take place at W’s “The Living Room’’ on Dec. 31.