Christmas in the tropics


As soon as Thanksgiving Day is over, the Christmas season begins. Although it is hard to imagine Santa Claus in T-shirts and shorts and Christmas without snow, they exist in the tropics – together with the Christmas tree among the palm trees.

On the small tropical island of Saipan, the winter season is one of the most festive of the year. It is not only because family traditions are so strong among the local people, but it’s also due to the fact that the winter holidays are the busiest time of the year for the only industry on the small island… tourism.

As most cities around the world at this time of the year, Saipan is also dressed in Christmas lights, and one can view Christmas trees in offices and many private homes. The stores are full of holiday-related items, and there are several community events devoted to it, such as the Jingle Bell Run, Christmas Island Relay, and a competition among the schools for the best Christmas tree decoration using recycled materials, etc. On Saipan, many organizations and private citizens work hard to help people in need with the Christmas Toy Drive and Christmas dinner deliveries for those struggling families who are less fortunate.

The Saipan hotels are also preparing for the two big nights of December: Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Each major hotel customarily prepares a gala dinner and live entertainment with a final countdown for their guests. But there is a resort where the season’s celebration is unique and much longer than at any other hotel. Pacific Islands Club Saipan (PIC) celebrates Christmas and New Year with parties twice within a month’s time! At first, the hotel creates festive activities and special dining experiences for its Asian customers and local patrons. The second set of holidays is repeated as PIC celebrates the Orthodox Christmas on January 7 and Orthodox Russian New Year’s Eve on January 13.

PIC prepares first for Christmas Eve with a special dinner, caroling, and a champagne toast for its in-house guests. On Christmas morning, all hotel rooms with kids arise to find a small stocking hung on the door. The resort animators (called Clubmates) organize holiday activities for both kids and adults such as Christmas tree ornaments decorating, candy cane relay, wreath toss at the hotel’s waterpark, and even a Christmas cake eating contest. As the hotel’s ambassadors of fun, the Clubmates also perform a special Christmas dance show free for PIC guests. Then, the following week is New Year’s Eve where this year’s theme, Mardi Gras, will welcome 2011.

The cold winter season in the Russian Far East attracts the greatest number of visitors who typically stay a minimum of two weeks and comprise 30% of the hotels’ market mix. PIC’s valued Russian guests receive small holiday gifts to feel welcome upon arrival, as well as a private luxury Christmas dinner party to celebrate Christmas in their own style far away from home. Similar to the celebration on December 31, PIC prepares a new theme party for the Russian New Year’s Eve on January 13. Last year, the hotel built an ancient Chamorro village, which featured local artisans and craftsmen, dance groups and musicians, and traditional Chamorro and Carolinian food. In 2011, there will be a new theme, which remains a secret in order to surprise the hotel’s loyal repeater guests who visit annually.