Merry Christmas and Happy Hospitalidays!

It's the most wonderful time of the year for hotels to transform themselves in Winter Wonderlands. See how these hotel teams go to the North Pole and back to spread some Holiday cheer.

TJ Lind
December 20, 2019
Hotel Guest Service
Hotel Guest Messaging
Hospitality Highlight

It is late December. That’s right, chubby, elderly bearded men in red are trendy, snow is falling, evergreen is the choice scent, and sugar plums are dancing in heads (whatever those are). It’s the Holiday season! We all know there’s no place like home for the Holidays, but if you can’t be, there are a few hotels that take their decking of halls to a whole new level and would give even Ebenezer Scrooge a couple of warm fuzzies.

The Fairmont San Francisco jingles all the way into their decor by constructing a gingerbread house. But to scale accurately with their Holiday spirit, this particular gingerbread house is large enough to host Santa, his elves, and all of their plus ones. It is two stories and stands 25 feet high, 35 feet wide, and 10.5 feet deep. The 6,000 gingerbread bricks (made in-house, by the way) are held together by 3,300 pounds of royal icing and embellished with 1,650 pounds of candy.

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The Gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco

Guests and up to nine of their friends can even rent out the mouthwatering abode for dinner (Note: The abode is not FOR dinner though, so stop chewing on the walls, please). Can you even begin to imagine how wonderful it smells in there though? Now if only you could figure out what to have for dessert.

Once you’ve Hansel and Gretel’ed through the San Francisco property, a fellow Fairmont in Arizona, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, is both merry and EXTREMELY bright. There are more than 180 illuminated Christmas trees on the property and 1.8 million Holiday lights cascading off the hotel. Rudolph’s Nose, that’s a lot of lights! (Excuse the language).

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The Holiday Train at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

When it comes to poinsettias and candy canes, The Princess believes in “go big or go back to the North Pole”, boasting their 14 foot poinsettias and an entire candy-cane forest. Don’t feel like walking all the way through that pepperminty jungle? No need to get a ticket for the Polar Express, just jump aboard one of their two Holiday Trains, sip your hot cocoa as you listen to the bells on bob tails ring, and take in the 4.5 million twinkling lights and their eighty foot Christmas Tree synced to the music of popular carols. The “Christmas at the Princess” festivities, which also includes meet and greets with Santa (I know him!), Menorah lightings, an ice rink, and S’more stations, are open to the public to make sure that, oh by golly, everyone’s having a holly, jolly Christmas this year.

If you are still looking for “s’more” Christmas cheer, we’d recommend heading 2,300 miles or so southeast to Boca Raton to join in the celebration at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Roast yourself a marshmallow and melted chocolate confection on a bed of graham, and enjoy watching world-champion skaters show off their skills at a rose-hued ice rink, aptly named “The Pink Rink”. After that action, you will probably feel that all is not calm, but all is very, very bright. 600,000 lights are hung around the resort along with 40 fully decorated trees. There is also a Holiday Boat Parade on twinkling, fully decorated ships that guests can set sail, have dinner on, and feel like they've just won the honor of Holiday Cheermeister. The real showstopper is a 40 foot evergreen at the property’s entrance that will make you feel as small as a Who, but is guaranteed to grow your heart three sizes that day.

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The Boca Raton Resort & Club during the Holidays

Give your pupils a chance to dilate again for a moment, and mosey to the Big Easy, where they make Christmas look anything but easy. The Roosevelt Hotel, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, brings the children’s toy he also inspired, the Teddy Bear, centerstage during the Holidays, gifting each child with a fuzzy new friend to take home. They convert their Crescent City Ballroom to Santa’s Workshop where “Teddy Bear Tea” is served alongside live entertainment and is topped with a visit from Kris Kringle himself.

Not to be outdone by the impressive gingerbread houses on display at other hotels, The Roosevelt builds one in the style of most of NOLA’s homes, a shotgun house. Slightly smaller than The Fairmont’s in San Francisco, but just as delicious (I’m sure), standing ten feet tall and ten feet wide.

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The Lobby of The Roosevelt

Okay, sunglasses back on. The block-long lobby of the hotel is lined floor to ceiling with 46 Christmas trees, 22 birch trees, 30 feet of garland, and precisely 135,572 twinkling lights that envelope you in a warm, cozy Holiday hug as you make your way to the concierge. Your heart will be as warm as those chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

If you didn’t quite get your skating fill while at the Boca Raton Resort & Spa, we’d recommend jumping in a one horse open sleigh and heading back to California to the prestigious 132 year old property, the Hotel Del Coronado. Although ice skating next to the ocean may seem a little odd, the Hotel Del Coronado doesn’t allow that to get in the way of constructing a seaside ice rink surrounded by Holiday light adorned palm trees to help its guests glide their way into some Christmas spirit. And once you’ve just HAD it with the brutally harsh California winter cold, waddle your way to the rink-side lounge, adorably and cleverly named Frostbite: A Place to Chill, and enjoy seating around your own private fire pit, refreshments, and some old fashioned yuletide fun. Dare I mention there is also a snow globe bouncy house and a chance to meet Krystal, the Ice Princess from Nimbus? I don’t mean to name drop, but she’s kind of a big deal. Step aside, Frosty.

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Skating by the Sea at the Hotel Del Coronado

Another pom-pom on “The Dels’s” hat is they were the site of the world’s first electrically powered outdoor Christmas Tree back in 1904. Since then, those first couple dozen lights have been joined by 100,000 others trimming the historic establishment. Oh sorry, sunglasses on...ugh, oh never mind.

You may recognize the last hotel from the no fewer than three Christmas movies where it has served as the setting. The Plaza Hotel, located in Midtown Manhattan, was built in 1907 and boasts some pretty famous clientele since opening its doors, including Josephine Baker, Andy Williams, Liza Minnelli, Miles Davis, and even the Beatles. Perhaps the most famous character to walk through The Plaza’s doors, at least fictionally, is the children’s book character, Eloise, a six year old who lives in the penthouse of The Plaza. One of her installments is “Eloise at Christmastime”, and The Plaza celebrates its affiliation by hosting “Eloise Holiday Tea” for guests of all ages.

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Christmas at The Plaza

Recently, Hallmark has released a movie called “Christmas at the Plaza” and The Plaza reacted with an exclusive package to help warm your heart and get your fill of corny lines. It comes complete with hot cocoa and popcorn delivery and access to a variety of other Hallmark Christmas movies to indulge in. So curl up in your comfiest sweatpants, grab your mug of cocoa, and wonder if the heroine will indeed be able to find that healthy work/life balance, and make some room for love in her life and realize the true meaning of Christmas was in front of her all along. Knowing a popcorn or cocoa refill is an effortless call away, you realize you have a happy ending for the evening that is as predictable as the movie’s.

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Home Alone 2 at The Plaza

Or, if you relate more to a ten year old boy whose family has a pretty terrible track record of remembering him, maybe the Home Alone 2 package jingles your bells. Guests can live like Kevin McCallister, complete with a gargantuan ice cream sundae, a FAO Schwarz personal shopping spree, and, of course, a copy of the movie. You’ll be wishing all the filthy animals “Merry Christmas” in no time.

So if you’re feeling a bit Grinchy and hate the whole Christmas season, stop asking why, you may not know the reason. Visiting a hotel that can get mistaken for a Winter Wonderland could have you be singing “Fah who foraze, Dah who doraze” and rockin’ around the Christmas tree with the rest of us in time for December 25th. Happy Holidays!

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