These 13 hotels go all out for a vacation – and you can book them with points – Forbes Advisor

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Caroline Lupini


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Posted: Oct 27, 2021 9:00 a.m.

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Can’t decide between your favorite vacation traditions at home or going on a well-deserved vacation? Now you don’t have to. We’ve rounded up our favorite properties to celebrate throughout the season, whether you’re looking for the perfect winter wonderland or a tropical vacation.

These hotels know how to party, with holiday cheer in the form of elaborate decorations, on-site activities and special touches that are sure to delight. For the ultimate in flexibility, they also offer celebrations throughout the month so you can travel when it’s most convenient for you, just in case the big days are already booked with other commitments.

All of these hotels can be booked with credit card reward points, but if you don’t have enough rewards (or the right kind of rewards), don’t despair. Staying on a paid rate will earn you points for next year’s celebrations.

As with all vacation travel, peak dates can and should be booked quickly. Since reward nights are almost always refundable, it pays to book early to lock in your preferred reservations. Then start the holiday countdown. These hotels make going on vacation better than you ever imagined.

Gaylord Opryland (Nashville, Tennessee) – 50,000 Marriott Points

Gaylord hotels are famous for big Christmas celebrations and enjoying the decorations alone could be considered a complete sightseeing visit. You’ll want to book multiple nights to enjoy it all: there’s ice tubes, breakfast with Rudolph, and gingerbread decor. This year you can also join Mission: Save Christmas with Elf ™. The multisensory experience takes guests through immersive environments, including the North Pole, as you and Buddy the Elf help Santa’s sleigh fly.

Suncadia Resort (Che Elum, WA) – 20,000 Hyatt Points

A short drive from Seattle, the Suncadia Resort does everything possible to create a festive atmosphere throughout the season. Starting on Thanksgiving weekend, choose from specialist experiences like inviting an elf into your bedroom to read a bedtime story and build your own gingerbread house. Or, take a different approach with one of their seasonal art and cocktail events. Winter essentials, such as ice skating and sledding, are also available on site.

Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch (Avon, CO) – 85,000 Marriott Points

Arriving at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is a spectacle in itself: the hotel is adorned with 125,000 lights and 600 feet of garland. Snow is a given, with ski-to-door access from the property (and cross-country ski trails too, if you prefer). Holiday events begin on Saturday, November 27 with a tree-lighting ceremony and continue with cookie decorating, snow globe making and ornament decorating for guests of all ages. Top it off with champagne and caviar on New Years Eve.

The Willard Intercontinental (Washington, DC) – 57,000 IHG ​​points

Afternoon tea at The Willard’s elegant Peacock Alley is a holiday tradition, with seasonally-inspired baked goods (sugar scones, are you fancy?) And a harpist performing in the elegantly decorated Peacock Alley. If your days are more busy with sightseeing, stop by the iconic Round Robin Bar for a spiced cider or a seasonal cocktail and feast on the singers in the hotel lobby.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (Scottsdale, AZ) – 24,000 Accor points

This year marks the twelfth annual Christmas at the Princess, a complete transformation of the resort into an enchanting holiday wonderland. There’s a 6,000-square-foot ice rink, a rarity in Arizona, along with millions of twinkling lights, train rides, and a Nativity Garden. Optionally, groups can also rent fireplaces or dome-shaped igloos for a magical evening outdoors.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve (Orlando, Florida) – 50,000 Marriott points

What if you could stay near the most magical place on earth at the most magical time of the year? The all-new Walt Disney World Swan Resort is within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios (and all of their holiday magic). For the holiday season, stroll along the causeway between Swan and Dolphin resorts for dancing Christmas light shows to festive music or watch the evening fireworks directly from your room.

The Roosevelt (New Orleans, LA) – 70,000 Hilton Points

The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria hotel, goes above and beyond in decorations every year. Using thousands of lights, arches and garlands, it lights up the entire block and the interior transforms into a wonderland of white birch trees and crystal lights. Inside you’ll find the seasonal Teddy Bear Tea, attended by celebrities Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as seasonal cocktails and specialty brunches.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler (Whistler, BC, Canada) – 14,000 Accor points

If skiing isn’t enough to entice you to Whistler this holiday season, the long list of events from December 17 to January 2 will likely change your mind. Start by decorating a tree in the bedroom, with lights and ornaments, then choose from activities such as wreath-making or a “reindeer rally” scavenger hunt. Later, book to dine in one of their snow globes to enjoy the winter wonderland around you.

The Cosmopolitan (Las Vegas, NV) – 85,000 Marriott points

Everything is overkill in Vegas, so you shouldn’t be surprised that The Cosmopolitan goes to great lengths to create a vacation showcase. Guests can expect a rooftop ice rink and vacation movies screened on a 65-foot marquee, as well as a vacation village. A new area making its debut this year known as The Chalet will have comfortable seating and fire pits for a true seasonal getaway.

Hilton Vallarta Riviera (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) – 80,000 Hilton Points

Hilton’s newest all-inclusive property in Mexico transforms into a family-friendly resort starting November 22, giving you a whole new reason to visit for the holidays. The kids will love it, since several events feature Santa Claus and his elves or the Grinch. If you don’t have kids, you can book a room in the adults-only wing and focus on cultural activities instead. The resort hosts traditional Posada songs and a Mexican Noche Buena dinner on Christmas Eve.

Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, NY – 25,000 Hyatt Points

The holiday spirit begins the moment you arrive at the Mirror Lake Inn, where dozens of illuminated trees are just the start. Guests can request a visit from Santa with milk and cookies from the turndown service or even have a Christmas tree up to their room. Outside, bonfires in winter, ice skating on the lake of the same name, and horse-drawn sleigh rides add to the festive atmosphere.

Marriott Marquis Houston, Houston, Texas – 50,000 Marriott Points

You have several weeks to enjoy Texas Winter Lights at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, where the festivities begin on November 11. Their signature light experience takes place by the pool, where you’ll find thousands of winter lights, some of which you can float below on the heated lazy river, as well as nightly snowfall and 20 worthy selfie stations. ‘Instagram.

Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – 85,000 Marriott Points

No matter your choice of winter vacation, the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas has something for you. Guests can opt for in-room menorahs, participate in Elf on the Shelf treasure hunts, or participate in a special New Years Eve countdown celebration. The resort also blends in with the best of a Caribbean vacation, offering traditional dishes with flavors of St. Thomas, vacation-themed spa treatments, and poolside cabanas for a unique gift-unwrapping setting.

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Final result

Traveling on vacation doesn’t mean you have to let go of the traditions you love most at home. While some hotels don’t do more than put up sketchy decorations, these go above and beyond to create a sensational vacation experience.

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