Who doesn’t love a little merriment during the holidays, whether it’s an acrylic Christmas tree, 23-foot-tall gingerbread house, or live carolers during afternoon tea? From New York to Oahu, hotels around the country are getting all blinged out to help travelers feel the holiday spirit.
This year, Orbitz has selected “The Best Decked Out Hotels” in ten popular holiday destinations. These hotels were chosen for their offer of seasonal excitement through decorations, celebratory activities, or easy access to nearby holiday festivities.
“Hotels meticulously plan their holiday activities and decorations,” said Peggy Bianco, group vice president of Global Hotel Supplier Services. “Orbitz wanted to spotlight a few properties that create unique experiences and give travelers a feeling of home and holiday cheer when traveling during the season.”
LAS VEGAS – Bellagio
Already known as one of the most elegant and glamorous hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, the Bellagio raised the bar this year when it decked its lobby halls with some eye-popping holiday scenes. Replete with reds, golds and greens, a tremendous sparkling tree is flanked by oversized ornaments and stacked giant presents; giant rocking horses and flying reindeer play alongside cheerful snowmen. The water in the famous Bellagio fountains dance to holiday tunes, offering a delightful and free source of entertainment for all hotel guests.
ORLANDO – Gaylord Palms
How often do you get to spend your day at the pool under the blazing sun and your evenings walking through a winter wonderland? At Orlando’s Gaylord Palms, guests are experiencing ICE! This walk-through holiday attraction was hand-carved from nearly 2 million pounds of ice and kept at a chilly nine degrees to ensure the ice remains solid. Adorned with cushy parkas, guests can wander about this magical mystery land alongside ice monuments and frosty scenes, swoosh down slick ice slides, hunt gnomes in a hidden holiday game and marvel at the majestic Christmas tree. With 4.5 acres of decorations, ICE village offers guests the best of both worlds: winter in paradise is truly a possibility.
NEW YORK – The Peninsula New York
One of the most elegant hotels in the world, The Peninsula New York sits right on Fifth Avenue near Central Park. It shines throughout the holidays as the grand entrance comes to life with twinkling lights and beautiful garland throughout. A 25-foot-tall ornately decorated tree graces the hotel’s Palm Court, letting guests immediately enjoy the holiday spirit. Staff offers a playful gingerbread-decorating class for kids and invites guests to purchase and hang ornaments on the tree, with proceeds benefitting the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Mere blocks from the windows at Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as Rockefeller Center, Peninsula guests can take in all the holiday festivities the city has to offer.
CHICAGO – The Drake
Re-creating a traditional holiday scene, the elegant and majestic Drake Hotel, sitting at the top of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, welcomes guests into the warm lobby with a grand tree decked out with the most iconic Christmas imagery: Santa, a nutcracker, tiny soldiers and a train circling Santa’s village. Banisters and staircases are adorned with garland, while the Palm Court glows with tiny white lights during high tea, which features a harpist and carolers through Dec. 25. Warming things up even more, the Drake invited children from Mercy Home, a long-term residential home for troubled youth, to light the tree during the annual Festival of Lights on Michigan Avenue.
LOS ANGELES – Millennium Biltmore
Harkening back to a bygone era, the stately elegance and Old World-charm of the Millennium Biltmore creates an atmosphere of sophistication and class in Downtown Los Angeles. Its lavish Victorian holiday decor is a refreshing departure from modern holiday design and a move toward traditional, classic Christmas cheer. The Los Angeles landmark features lively afternoon tea and live carolers, in addition to a grand New Year’s Eve gala. Guests can further get into the holiday spirit by donning a pair of skates and hitting the city’s ice rink, located right across from the Biltmore, which sponsors the icy fun.
OAHU – Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
Once again, Christmas comes to paradise where leis, pineapples and poi aren’t the only things keeping visitors happy. The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani has hoisted its Santa’s German Gingerbread Village to reign over the lobby and greet guests as they make their way toward the beach or pool. The hotel’s executive chef gathered his team and spent more than 250 hours designing and constructing this gift to their guests. This gingerbread village stands 14.5 feet tall and comprises 60 pounds of dark chocolate, 20 pounds of white chocolate, 30 pounds of gingerbread and 120 gallons of icing.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Fairmont
High atop Nob Hill, one of San Francisco’s most storied neighborhoods, sits the majestic and honorable Fairmont. This grande dame welcomes visitors throughout the holiday season with a noble tree guarding the lobby entrance. But what is truly outstanding is the two-story gingerbread house framing the entrance to the Fairmont’s Laurel Court Restaurant. It stands 23 feet tall and was built with 1,000 pounds of gingerbread, 350 pounds of chocolate and 150 pounds of candy–all constructed over the course of 300 hours! If this doesn’t re-energize the kids following a few hours of Union Square shopping, nothing will.
MIAMI – Fontainebleau
Who says you can’t celebrate the holidays in Florida? No one told the Fontainebleau because the decor inside the hotel is unparalleled, dramatic and glistening. The hotel’s Chateau lobby features a gorgeous custom-made acrylic tree, which took six months to assemble. Rooms in the Chateau and Versailles towers feature mini white calla lilies, while rooms in Tresor and Sorrento towers were adorned with mini Christmas trees. Mini menorahs are available for guests celebrating Hanukah. A towering pine tree, replete with 30,000 glowing LED lights and a fragrant pine scent graces the Tresor lobby, giving guests an authentic, warm holiday feeling.
WASHINGTON, DC – Gaylord National
Our nation’s capital may or may not be a snowy winter wonderland come Christmas (though one can hope), but through clever planning, the Gaylord National is ensuring a White Christmas for its guests this year. The hotel has built ICE!, a dramatic icy village created from millions of pounds of ice where guests can play and frolic through ice sculpture, zoom down ice slides and twirl on an actual ice skating rink–when not falling down, that is. Each night, guests can enjoy indoor snowfall and even attempt to make a snowman. Spectacular holiday decorations abound, showcasing a gorgeous lighted tree.
LANAI – Four Seasons Resort Lanai
The Four Seasons Resort stands out with something extra special, in a destination known more for sand, surf and shells. The resort’s Lodge at Koele is hugged by grand Cook Island pine trees as well as old Norfolk pines. These towering beauties add an element of New England while giving it that touch needed to truly feel like Christmas. Add in a couple of roaring fireplaces in the hotel’s Great Hall and you have a cozy nook to sip cocktails or hot chocolate, as you count down the hours to the arrival of St. Nick.