Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays...maybe because it's celebrated by all Americans, of all political stripes, from all corners of the world, and by adherents of all religions. To me, it's always been a day of welcoming and warmth, with a festive air, great food and drink and conversation, and family and friends gathered around the table, all grateful for the bounty sitting on it. And it doesn't hurt, either, that it's the start of the Holiday Season!
Here are five great places in which to celebrate this holiday...
#5 - JUMBY BAY ISLAND RESORT, ANTIGUA, WEST INDIES - We normally don't stray from America's shores in this column. But this place is so worth straying to...that we just had to include it! Jumby Bay Island Resort, a private island two miles off the coast of Antiqua, is considered one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean. There are only 40 guest rooms and luxury suites here, for people who want the ultimate getaway. And this resort - notwithstanding it's not in the U.S. - knows how to do Thanksgiving! The holiday weekend kicks off with a Thanksgiving-eve cocktail party at the Verandah Restaurant, Bar & Lounge.Â On Thanksgiving Day, the chefs will prepare a Thanksgiving feast with a twist at the Estate House, infusing classic Turkey-Day dishes with Caribbean flair and traditional island flavors.Â Other holiday-weekend festivities include a Turkey Trot (biking, running, or walking); a sailing regatta; Holiday Cupcake wars (bake-offs!); and a special rum dinner at the Estate House. The celebration here may be the most unique Thanksgiving you've ever had.
#4 - THE PEABODY MEMPHIS, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - The history of this iconic hotel dates back to 1869, when the original Peabody Hotel opened on the corner of Main & Monroe. That hotel immediately became the social and business hub of Memphis. In 1925 a newer Peabody was built at the present location at Union and 2nd Street, continuing the legacy of the "South's Grand Hotel." Its Thanksgiving Brunch - served in high style on the Mezzanine overlooking the Grand Lobby - is a sight and an experience to remember. The buffet features hundreds of hot and cold items, a carving station, and a 32-foot-long dessert table. The Peabody, as you may know, is renowned for holding one of America's great parades every afternoon. The participants in this parade not only know the parade route by heart...but they also quack along the way. It was 1933 when ducks were originally placed in the hotel's lobby fountain, setting in motion an 85-year tradition that continues every afternoon with the March of the Peabody Ducks. As a result, one of America's most-beloved hotels has become synonymous with the five North American mallard ducks who parade through its lobby every day!
#3 - ROYAL GORGE CABINS, CANON CITY, COLORADO - These luxury cabins are in central Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains...and offer breathtaking views everywhere you look. They have double-sided fireplaces, so you can enjoy the warmth of a fire from inside or outside on your private patio. And winter temperatures are surprisingly moderate here...sometimes up to 60, and generally accompanied by clear blue skies and the freshest air you've ever breathed.Â Each of the nine cabins includes a full kitchen, granite bar, and leather sofas. Nearby is Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, with a footbridge over a magnificent gorge that you'll never forget. Also nearby is Canon City, with interesting restaurants (some of which will be celebrating Thanksgiving) and shops, and the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, offering scenic views of the gorge. Royal Gorge Cabins was named one of America's top adventure resorts by U.S. News & World Report...and you'll know why every time you look outside your window.
#2 - THE OSTHOFF RESORT, ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - This luxurious all-suite hotel boasts a Four-Diamond rating from AAA. And you'd best carry your camera with you...because everywhere you turn there are stunning views of the lake. There will be a (huge!) buffet dinner on Thanksgiving Day, with options ranging from classic Thanksgiving dishes such as herb-roasted turkey and pumpkin pie to innovative ones like Apple Cider Glazed Pork Loin or Bourbon Apple Bread Pudding. After indulging in this feast, you'll probably want to walk it off a bit by spending the rest of the weekend exploring Elkhart Lake. You might spend a relaxing day at the resort's Aspira Spa, considered by some as one of the Midwest's best. Or, meander around a lake so beautiful that it will stay with you forever. Or, get a jump-start on holiday shopping by roaming around scenic Village Square and the surrounding streets in this Old-Time "Americana" village, which is filled with unique shops offering interesting collectibles and gifts. And some very tasty treats, as well! This is a place where the way it was...is the way it still is!
And now, my pick as the No. 1 place to spend a great Thanksgiving Getaway...
#1 - THE COUER D'ALENE RESORT, COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO - Imagine a full-service (and then some!) resort where all you see, when you look out your window, is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by forested mountains, and a sun slipping into a horizon beyond those mountains with colors you never knew existed. Imagine this resort sits at the foot of a scenic old town with gaslit-style streetlamps, interesting shops and restaurants, and Northwest-Victorian homes from the early-1900's. Imagine this resort has luxurious lake-side dining, and extras like a prestigious spa...and the world's only floating golf green, which you can only access by (mahogany) boat. Imagine you can walk outside the resort and hop into a seaplane for a bird's eye view of this enormous lake and mountains. Or, imagine you can board a sightseeing cruise - at the resort - for a relaxing sunset cruise. Then imagine that the mountains surrounding this alpine lake are laced with beautiful trails, and great views from every one of them. If you can imagine all this...you've imagined The Coeur d'Alene Resort.
Have you stayed at a resort or town worthy of consideration for one of our "Top 5" columns? Please let us know!