The Greenbrier: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Natural mineral springs have drawn guests to The Greenbrier for more than two centuries, and the historic hotel that opened in 1913 has welcomed many US presidents.
Letters to Santa, an ugly sweater dinner, a fun run, and a cookie decorating workshop are all part of The Greenbrier’s lineup in the days surrounding December 25.
On Christmas Eve, there’s a Snowman Ball ($125 per adult; $55 per child) followed by a musical program in the resort’s chapel. On Christmas Day, board games, Bingo, and a scavenger hunt will keep families entertained.
Fishing, foraging, and hiking are just outside at The Fife Arms, an antiques-packed, 19th-century retreat within Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands.
The hotel is 14.5 kilometers (nine miles) from Balmoral, the Royal Family’s residence in Scotland.
For winter guests, there’s a seasonal alpine fondue hut with a cozy fireplace. On the menu, a traditional Swiss option of molten cheese is joined by a Scottish take on the rich classic – a blend of two local cheeses and a local pale ale.
Rooms start at about $500 in late December. There’s also a special Christmas package, subject to availability.
“Serenity Season” is right on time at the Ojai Valley Inn, where spa treatments, golf, tennis, yoga, and more can be incorporated into a restorative stay at this 220-acre coastal valley resort.
On December 24, there’s a Jingle Bell Jaunt and story time with Santa’s elves. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner will be served at both Olivella and The Oak, and there’s a grand buffet on Christmas Day at The Farmhouse ($175 per adult, including wine; $60 for children 12 and younger).
Teatime and Christmastime coincide at The Plaza’s elegant Palm Court, where three holiday tea menus will be available through December 31.
The Manhattan Tea ($118) features savories and sweets, including a potato tart with beet, mushroom, and goat cheese and a Manjari chocolate orange bûche.
Eloise, the hotel’s famous fictional resident, lends her name to a children’s tea available for $85 per child.
There’s a Christmas Day buffet ($275 for adults). And for New Year’s Eve, a truly lavish gala offering comes with a price tag to match: $975 per person.
The Plaza has availability for December and around Christmas, with a starting rate of $1,395 per night.
The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York
Anantara Golden Triangle: Chiang Rai, Thailand
As far as memorable holiday experiences go, it’s hard to beat sleeping in a clear bubble with elephants roaming right outside.
It’s possible at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. The resort’s two-bedroom Jungle Bubble Lodge is transformed into snow globes for the holidays. Starlit skies and gentle giants add another layer to the magic.
The resort has a selection of more traditional luxury rooms, and guests can learn more about the beloved residents at Elephant Camp.
“A Gift of Mother Nature” Christmas brunch will showcase fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Rooms start at about $1,660, including meals, airport transfers, and some activities.
A sledding mountain, a skating trail, and a chairlift with 26 gondolas are just part of the annual Christmas at the Princess festival. Add six million lights, a train, and more: It’s safe to say Fairmont Scottsdale Princess doesn’t believe in holding back for the holidays.
The festival, which runs through January 2, is open to the public. Free for hotel guests, the entrance/parking fee for up to four nonhotel guests is $72 for self-parking.
There’s certainly a lot to be said for a warm-weather Christmas that involves lounging poolside with a cocktail.
The new luxury resort Rock House on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos offers panoramic views of all the fireworks shows during the holiday season.
Some of the resort’s dwellings have private pools. On Christmas Eve, a family-style Italian meal will be served on the jetty for $140 per adult and $50 per child.
On Christmas Day, a four-course meal at Vita restaurant and the main pool ($275 for adults, $50 per child) will be accompanied with carols from a local gospel choir.
Christmas week rates start at $910 a night.
Rock House, Blue Mountain Road, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Hôtel de Crillon: Paris
Historic Hôtel de Crillon delivers a next-level Parisian holiday.
A seven-course Christmas Eve menu at L’Écrin starts at close to $600 with wine pairings available for $250. Afternoon tea in the Jardin d’Hiver runs a less stratospheric $90ish, including a glass of Champagne. From December 12, pastry chef Matthieu Carlin will add a festive twist to the traditional afternoon tea service.
The five-star property, originally built in 1758 under the direction of King Louis XV, overlooks Paris’ Place de la Concorde.
Over Christmas weekend, rooms start at about $2,250.
An hour from central London, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire serves up a sophisticated country Christmas in an 18th-century manor on 500 acres of rolling meadows.
An equestrian center and other outdoor offerings will ensure a hearty appetite for holiday meals at Wild Carrot or afternoon tea in The Library.
Hotel Hampshire rates during the Christmas season start at about $865, with breakfast included.
For a sparkling city Christmas, guests at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane will find a snow-globe installation in the lobby, the option to decorate their own Christmas trees and a Christmas Day à la carte menu. Room rates over the holidays start at about $1,300.