In China, and in Chinese communities worldwide, Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) is like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Western New Year’s all rolled into one glorious occasion. Each year in the lunar calendar corresponds to one of 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Chinese New Year 2015 starts February 19, ringing in the Year of the Sheep. The milestone is usually marked with fireworks and parades, but the festivities go well beyond Chinatown, with numerous Forbes Travel Guide Star-Rated properties decking their lobbies with decorations and hosting special events. Here’s where to go to celebrate.
Hong Kong-born-and-bred brand Mandarin Oriental knows how to properly usher in Chinese New Year. On February 19, at its original hotel in the city, a lion dance procession will start off in the lobby and work its way around the property. Then, on February 20, watch the fireworks over Victoria Harbour from any of the hotel’s restaurants. Five-Star Pierre and Four-Star Man Wah turn especially festive with an eight-course dinner that night (eight being an auspicious number).
Across the globe at Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta, honor the Year of the Sheep with a cocktail reception on February 19. As you nosh on Peking duck, tender barbecue pork and assorted dim sum, enjoy lion dancing, ribbon dancers and drum performances, and enter for your chance to win prizes like two business-class tickets to Shanghai on Cathay Pacific and three nights at the Five-Star Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai.
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles
At WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, inside The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, the celebrity chef will whip up an eight-course Year of the Goat dinner. On the menu are Asian-inspired dishes such as salt and pepper jumbo prawns with stir-fried pea greens, Dungeness crab and XO chili sauce; Peking duck; and a crispy Maine diver scallop with glass noodles, mustard greens and black bean sauce. For dessert, Puck will play on oranges as a lucky Chinese New Year symbol, crafting flourless chocolate cake with dark chocolate and orange mousse.
M Resort Spa Casino
Take a break from hitting the tables and head to Las Vegas Four-Star property M Resort Spa Casino, where 30 dancers from local kung fu academy Lohan School of Shaolin will animate a 63-foot-long dragon on February 19. The parade, which will move throughout the casino, starts and ends in the lobby. From February 19 through the 25, the hotel’s Studio B will continue celebrating Chinese New Year by serving a variety of Chinese favorites, including lion’s head meatballs, chicken poached with ginger and scallions, and tasty almond cookies that are the perfect end to any M Resort meal.
Like Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula is a hotel group deeply entrenched in Hong Kong. It’s no surprise, then, that Chinese New Year events will be held at Peninsulas worldwide. At Five-Star The Peninsula Hong Kong, three types of 10-course set menus (Longevity, Fortune and Wealth) will be presented. On February 20, the hotel will host a Fireworks Dinner of dim sum, other mains and desserts with a side of waterfront views lit up with pyrotechnics. Families with young children can try out lion dancing for themselves with the hotel’s half-day class or meet The Peninsula’s calligraphy master to learn how to write New Year’s greetings. At Four-Star The Peninsula Beijing, an eight-course Chinese dinner will be served at Huang Ting, and the capital’s fireworks display can be taken in from Yun Bar. Families can show their chops in the kitchen with a weekend nian gao (glutinous rice cake) making class. Additionally, both hotels will offer holiday spa treatments combining elements of traditional Chinese medicine (ginger- and ginseng-infused poultices; acupressure).
The fun continues at The Peninsula Bangkok, where the chef’s table will put on a festive meal and, in the dining room, two set menus (Fortune and Wealth) will be available. Chinese New Year is all about families coming together and stateside, groups can take advantage of discounts on connecting rooms at a trio of Five-Stars — The Peninsula Chicago, The Peninsula Beverly Hills and The Peninsula New York — alongside perks like two gratis Peninsula Academy Children’s baking classes and tickets to the hotels’ Chinese New Year parties.