That beautiful song - "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - is very, very true! Most people are in good cheer at this time of year. Our homes and our fireplaces and our food and drink and our time with friends and family will all bring us wonderful memories in the future. Christmas is almost here...and here are five warm, wonderful places in which to enjoy it!
#5 - HOTEL HEALDSBURG, HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA - The scenic village of Healdsburg is 65 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and surrounded by several of Northern California's finest regional wine appellations, among them Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley. In this sun- and soil-blessed area sit well over a hundred world-class wineries and tasting rooms. Healdsburg is a town known for its charm and very distinct - even for California - personality, from the rolling hills of world-acclaimed wine-growing regions to the aromas of five-star cuisine near the lively town square. Hotel Healdsburg sits on the western edge of the town's historic plaza, and in this small town - within a short walk from the hotel - visitors can enjoy some of America's most interesting restaurants and shops. Like the village in which it sits, Hotel Healdsburg provides its guests with a very special holiday experience this Christmas season. The hotel will be staging a special afternoon High Tea with homemade pastries, petit sandwiches, custom blend teas, classic cocktails and other holiday fare, in an ambience of live piano music, winter florals, and beautiful holiday decor. And the whole town gets into the Holiday Spirit with events like the annual Holiday Dine Around (a strolling, three-course progressive meal), Holiday Walking Tour (where guests can sip, savor and shop the festive streets), and the Winter Music Series, in Hotel Healdsburg's cozy fireplace lounge. This town and this hotel provide a very different type of Christmas experience, in a very unique slice of America.
#4 - ELDORADO HOTEL & SPA, SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - Santa Fe is a city of adobe, as if the Spanish Conquistadors who came north from Mexico never left. It's a small city that seems to change colors all day long as the sun warms it overhead; the dramatic mountain ranges surrounding the town transform from brown to gold to purple and everything in between, as if by magic. Santa Fe is also perhaps the best place in America to search for Southwestern art. And its golden Eldorado Hotel & Spa is one of the best places for a very special Christmas. Here, you're within easy walking distance of the historic Santa Fe Plaza, where you can experience the Canyon Road "Farolito" Walk (festive Southwestern lanterns or candles, often wrapped in paper) on Christmas Eve. You're also within easy driving distance of Ski Santa Fe. And it's just a stroll down the hall to the renowned Nidah Spa, with seasonal specials like the Chocolate Mole Wrap & Massage and the Whipped Honey Scrub. You can relax in the evenings in front of the fireplace at CAVA Santa Fe Lounge in the hotel, while enjoying live music. Holiday events at the Eldorado include decorating the lobby, Farolito lightings, 12 Days of Cocoa, a beautiful gingerbread house, tamale-making classes, stocking-decorating, and roasting s'mores. There will be bountiful buffets in the AGAVE Restaurant & Lounge on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, along with special Christmas dishes and drinks. And when you watch the sun go down over this golden little city - which may have a blanket of snow - it just may be the memory of a lifetime.
#3 - The ART, A Hotel; DENVER, COLORADO - The ART, A Hotel is not only a sleek, sophisticated showcase of a hotel, but also one of Denver's most unique art museums. Here, every room, every public space, and every hallway is filled with striking original (mostly modern) art from some of the best artists in the world. For example, greeting you in the lobby is a seven-foot-high horse sculpture named Otter, by renowned artist Deborah Butterfield.
Otter, originally made from sun-bleached wood found on a riverbank, was uniquely cast by burning away the wood with molten bronze and then adding a coating that made the bronze look like driftwood. Other famous artists represented in this hotel include Ed Ruscha and Leo Villareal. Everything in The ART is artsy, in fact...including the books on the shelves and the furniture and even the presentation of the candies and cookies in your room, as well as the Andy Warhol-inspired Christmas trees all over the property. The ART celebrates the Season with touches like a special Holiday Coffee Cart with syrups such as pumpkin or peppermint, which is a great way to start the twenty-minute walk to Denver's "Mile High Tree," an immersive digital tree with 60,000 LED lights. Later on you can go upstairs to the rooftop stylish restaurant/terrace called FIRE, and join the marshmallow roasts by the fire pit, overlooking downtown. There's Jingle Bells & Jingle Bells & Brunch on Christmas Day, with items like candy-cane pancakes and bottomless mimosas. And there's Holiday Helping Dinner on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with dishes such as caviar toast and petit filet Oscar.
#2 - THE OSTHOFF RESORT, ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - The historic Grand Dame of Elkhart Lake was built in 1885, and completely rebuilt 100 years later in a way that preserved every bit of its Victorian elegance. This luxurious all-suite hotel boasts a Four Diamond-rating and has dramatic, photo-worthy views of the lake at every turn. There are four notable restaurants here, each with a warm, cozy ambience. There's a spa, a cooking school, and a gift shop. And this resort (and the village) stage a picturesque Old Time Christmas - most likely in a snowy Winter Wonderland - that few other places can match. For example, on Dec. 21 there's Breakfast With Santa...for children of all ages, with a buffet, Christmas caroling, and a special gift. On the same day there's a Children's Holiday Workshop, with cookie-decorating and ornament-making, and also horse-drawn wagon rides and caroling. Then, on Christmas Day, there's a buffet so big that you may not be hungry again until next Christmas. And don't miss the chance to explore the village of Elkhart Lake, with friendly folks and wintry small-town charm and unique shops and locally-owned eateries. But the Osthoff is a really a resort for all seasons, and spring, summer, and fall all offer great opportunities to get out on the lake, hike around it, play golf, etc. And for an Old Time Christmas, where the true spirit of the holiday seems to jump out at you, you can't beat the warmth and pleasures of this very unique resort, town, and region.
And now, my choice for the No. 1 Christmas Getaway In America...
#1 - THE HOTEL ROANOKE & CONFERENCE CENTER, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA - Christmas is a true joy at this wonderful classic hotel that's become a symbol of Roanoke and the Blue Ridge Mountain region...of its proud history, of its food, of its many fun holiday traditions. Walking through the hallways of The Hotel Roanoke is like walking through an historic-period-come-alive in America. And Christmas is celebrated in unique style here. Now in its 19th year, the hotel's "Fashions for Evergreens" celebrates the season with a Christmas Tree competition - in which guests are the judges! You can warm up with a holiday drink in the hotel's coffee shop, Steam Coffee + Eatery. You can find serenity at the Salt Foot Sanctuary and Spa. On Dec. 20, you can join local folks in enjoying the music and carols of "Dickens Of A Christmas," where Roanoke comes together at colorful Market Square. "Elmwood On Ice" gives the family a chance to skate and slide in the middle of downtown Roanoke. The prestigious Mill Mountain Theatre, also in Market Square, will be presenting special Christmas theater/musical performances through Dec. 22. The whole family will enjoy "Fantasyland" Holiday performances at the O. Winston Link Museum. And you'll definitely want to make reservations at the Hotel Roanoke's elegant Regency Room for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Buffet and the Holiday Grand Sunday Buffet. This is Christmas in one of the South's coolest cities, with interesting restaurants and food markets and restored old buildings and one of the liveliest cultural scenes in America, and where tradition is lovingly preserved.
These are my Top 5 Christmas Getaways In America. What are yours? Write us and let us know!