While the holidays will be different this year, they can still be jolly. Hotels have come up with a bevy of imaginative and festive activities, including video chats with Santa, private sleigh rides, jingle bell jogs and to-go kits with everything from gingerbread to s’mores.
Whether you plan to stay in or venture out on a staycation, these hotel activities will fill your holiday with good cheer:
Pair Cheese and Champagne
Cozy up in The Dolder Grand’s Krug Carnotzet, a barrel-shaped pop-up private dining space on the terrace of the Zurich hotel’s Saltz restaurant. Then sip exquisite champagne and warm up with rich, gooey fondue while gazing out at the city.
Virtually Visit with Santa
Since social distancing prevents kids from sitting on old St. Nick’s lap, The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa set up a video chat with Santa in its Houston ballroom (Dec. 12). The exchange is captured as a video keepsake for parents.
Go Big with Gingerbread
Build a gingerbread village at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Decorate four massive gingerbread houses with icing and sweets while sipping hot chocolate and watching a private screening of your favorite holiday flick in the D.C. hotel’s new Ambassador Movie Theatre Room.
Ski with an Olympian
Madeline Hotel and Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection will put you on the slopes with Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy for an hour (Dec. 23-24). Afterward, stop by the Telluride hotel’s new Ski Recovery Lounge, which features Kenworthy’s favorite recovery rituals (like Hyperice and Normatec therapies) and his own cool-down playlist.
Dine in a Luxe Yurt
On Dec. 21, The St. Regis Deer Valley will debut Yurt Village, three yurts with mahogany latticework, plexiglass stargazing domes, windows overlooking the Wasatch Range and radiant heat. The luxe yurts, which seat eight, will serve lunch, après-ski and dinner.
Sip Fine Wine
The pandemic isn’t stopping the nation’s longest-running food and wine fest. Boston Harbor Hotel’s Boston Wine Festival (January-March) will offer virtual wine dinners Thursdays, and socially distant wine dinners Fridays and Saturdays spotlighting top wine and winemakers from around the world.
Shake Up Holiday Libations
Step up your holiday entertaining with the help of Adam Couto, Chatham Bars Inn’s master mixologist. You’ll learn how to make eggnog and holiday grog during hands-on classes in the Cape Cod hotel’s new STARS Mixology Lounge throughout December.
Take a Jingle Jog
Although a canine isn’t required for Montage Palmetto Bluff’s Dec. 24 Jingle Bell Dog Jog 5K, it’s certainly more fun to have one (the South Carolina hotel will provide the bells). After the run, you’ll feel less guilty about indulging in Montage’s Cookie Pop Up Shop.
Write Letters to Santa
Children checking into Lotte New York Palace or The Towers will receive a postcard to write to Santa and drop into a special onsite mailbox. Later, a personalized response from Santa Claus will magically appear in their rooms.
Ride to Santa’s Workshop
Climb aboard a wagon to visit Santa’s workshop at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, for a socially distanced photo op. After kids share their wishes, they’ll do a festive craft and then enjoy s’mores and hot cocoa at the fire pits.
Embark on a Snowshoe Adventure
Starting in January, trek through the tranquil mountainside during a sunset snowshoe outing courtesy of The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection in Park City. The final destination is a yurt, where mulled wine and fondue will warm you up.
Feed on Festive Flapjacks
Pendry San Diego adapted its annual Pancakes and Pajamas Brunch as a to-go kit, with cooked classic and red velvet pancakes, colorful toppings and a pair of children’s holiday pajamas from P.J. Salvage. Pre-order a kit here and pick it up Dec. 19 at Provisional Kitchen.
Do Some Snowga
Embrace Edgewood Tahoe’s wintry landscape with snowga in the Sierras. Take in the fresh mountain air and relax your mind as instructors take you through poses in an outdoor yoga experience on a patch of beachfront overlooking Lake Tahoe’s icy waters.
Partake in Après-Beach
Snowy destinations don’t have the corner on après experiences. The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach puts a Miami spin on it with Après Beach, a post-beach ritual with Veuve Clicquot and gourmet bites on the Starr Bar overlooking the Atlantic.
Stay at a Hotel on Ice
Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. transformed to a “Hotel on Ice,” with heated pop-up ice bubble domes on the patio of Bourbon Steak featuring spirits and champagnes by Moët Hennessy. Meanwhile, kids camp out in ice castles set up in their rooms.
Have a Fun DIY Holiday
Celebrate the season with Terranea Resort’s to-go activity kits. The Kids Club Family Gratitude Boxes is packed with arts and crafts, games, gratitude conversation cards and more. Or opt for the L.A. hotel’s other DIY kits with gingerbread houses, mandala painting, stargazing and s’mores to enjoy around one of the 228 onsite fireplaces.
See Santa on the Beach
St. Nick is stopping in at Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya to visit with little ones in his own Santa Suite, a merry beachside dome. It’s complimentary to chat and take photos with the jolly old elf, but the hotel is collecting donations to aid the local community.
Throw a private Hanukkah celebration
Commemorate the Festival of Lights from the comfort of your accommodations at Ojai Valley Inn. The hotel will deliver a Hanukkah kit with an electric menorah, dreidels and chocolate gelt coins to kickstart your in-room holiday festivities.
Celebrate Christmas Beachside
Forget white Christmases. Beachfront Grand Velas Los Cabos will mark Dec. 25 with Santa swooping in via helicopter, along with sandcastle competitions, cooking classes, sand bikes, an aromatherapy Spa Atelier workshop and private stargazing.
Enjoy a Private Concert
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection will grant concertgoers’ Christmas wish with a one-of-a-kind private experience in Austin’s iconic Paramount Theatre. Have a three-course dinner, cocktail experience and theater tour, followed by a screening of a vintage holiday movie or a musical performance.
Spend Time with Santa
At The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston’s Holiday Workshop (Dec. 12-13), kids can decorate gingerbread houses, listen to carolers, have story time with Santa and nosh on light holiday bites while mom and dad hit the mimosa bar.
Go Sleigh Riding
Gallivant around Aspen in a horse-drawn carriage with a historian to explore the mining town and learn about its past. Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection partnered with the Aspen Historical Society for the private sleigh rides.
Après-Ski in Tahoe
After day on the slopes and refueling at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s sumptuous après-ski spread with Moët & Chandon, shrimp cocktail, crab and caviar, revive yourself at the spa with a Ponderosa Pine Winter Body Scrub. Pine bark treats sore muscles, and a creamy exfoliation with local pine salve soothes dry skin.
Children are invited to create their own masterpieces at Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston. The hotel will send craft kits to the room, and the Trifecta Trolley will stop by to mix up a holiday-themed mocktail at your door. Parents can order adult libations from the trolley, too.
Indulge in Holiday Pampering
Have a winter getaway at Rosewood Miramar Beach with the Home Sweet Miramar Package, and you’ll get a signature suite with a full-sized tree and decorating kit, an in-suite dinner, customized stockings and family pajamas, an in-suite session with stylists and seasonal spa treatments like the Cranberry Woods manicure and pedicure.