St. Regis Aspen

7 Wonderful Winter Escapes for the Holidays

Dec. 9th, 2020

California might be under stay-at-home orders for the remainder of the month, but there's still time to plan a festive getaway over the holidays. Whether it's hitting the slopes and getting cozy around the fire for après-ski in the mountains or sunning yourself somewhere tropical like the Maldives or Turks and Caicos, these seven resorts are offering special holiday programming, extended stay packages, and more, well into the New Year. 

The St. Regis Aspen Resort, Colorado

The St. Regis Aspen Resort

Famed for its glamorous ski season, the Rocky Mountain playground of Aspen is home to excellent skiing, plus plenty of high-caliber restaurants and boutiques. Lodgings are suitably luxurious too and range from ski-in-ski-out hotels to the grand St. Regis Aspen Resort, just steps from the slopes. A quintessential mountain retreat, its 179-rooms and suites are outfitted with custom furnishings, including a leather bed and desk designed by Ralph Lauren. Holiday highlights for December include the daily Champagne sabering ritual (a tradition started by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904 when he founded the first St. Regis Hotel in New York) and the fast-paced Snow Polo World Championship Finals on December 19 and 20. Family-friendly events include Santa’s Workshop holiday craft room (December 21 to 24), plus a socially distanced visit from Santa on Christmas Eve. A slew of holiday menus also features, including Christmas dinner at flagship restaurant, Velvet Buck, and a $450 prix fixe six-course feast on New Year’s Eve with dish options like white truffle crusted halibut and A5 Japanese Wagyu.

COVID 19: In response to the pandemic, various new protocols and elevated practices have been implemented in keeping with The St. Regis Aspen Resort’s high standards of cleanliness and luxury service

Hotel Jackson, Wyoming

Hotel Jackson

Whether coming to ski the world-class terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or soak up the grandeur of the Grand Tetons, the LEED-built luxury Hotel Jackson is the perfect place to lay heads after an action-packed snow day. Located just steps from the Elk Antler Arch and storied Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, the 58-room property has put together a raft of COVID-safe snow activities for the season. Highlights include a bespoke stargazing experience in partnership with Wyoming Stargazing and a half-day snowshoe tour of Grand Teton National Park complete with a custom picnic lunch and batched hot toddies to-go. While season tickets sold out in one day and skiing will be by reservation only to limit the number of people on the mountain, the resort partnered with local hotels, including Hotel Jackson, allowing them to secure coveted lift tickets for guests. For the ultimate private vacation, a full buyout of the hotel starts at $40,000. 

COVID 19: Sanitized between trips, the Mercedes shuttle will run more often and take limited parties. Guests’ goggles and gloves will not be handled by staff, and the rooftop hot tub is now by reservation only. 

Ventana Big Sur, California

Ventana Big Sur

An iconic property in the heart of California’s rugged Central Coast, Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, currently remains open with holiday programming in place. Its 160-acre setting amongst redwood forests and rolling meadows allow for plenty of alfresco and socially distanced activities - take your pick from nighttime star bathing hikes to guided bike tours. On the culinary side, a new cheese tasting journey, featuring products from The Cheese Shop, Carmel Honey Company and Le P’tit Paysan Wines, launches on December 15. Thoughtful festive touches at the 59-room retreat include a complimentary one-of-a-kind holiday ornament for guests made by Bay Area sculptor and designer Katie Gong and the option for an in-room living Christmas tree. Provided by Griggs Nursery and available for stays December 24 to 25, trees can be taken home afterward or planted in a nearby area that needs reforesting. For the ultimate New Age experience, the Unity Alchemy Crystal Bowl Sound Journey will transport any stressed-out souls into a state of deep inner peace on Christmas Day. Plan to visit in the New Year? Join herbalist Kelsey Barrett for a hike, herbal tea tasting, and sensory meditation on January 9 and 10.    

COVID 19: With guest and associate safety and wellbeing a top priority, in keeping with Alila Hotels worldwide, extra precautionary measures and enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented across the resort.

Castle Hot Springs, Arizona

Castle Hot Springs

If the Sonoran Desert is more your speed, then why not make the secluded oasis of Castle Hot Springs your home away from home for the holidays. An hour’s drive outside of Phoenix, Arizona’s first luxury resort reopened last October after significant renovations earning a place on Conde Nast Traveler’s coveted 2020 Hot List. The 30 standalone cabins and bungalows, including the Historic Cottage, which once played to host to affluent families including the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, are beautifully styled and appointed. Thanks to its setting in the Bradshaw Mountains, there are plenty of opportunities to reconnect with nature, including guided hikes, horseback riding, and of course, a reviving soak in the mineral-rich hot springs. While wellness experiences like yoga, tai chi, and meditation also feature. Registered guests can look forward to Christmas favorites at in-house restaurant Harvest, courtesy of the culinary team and agronomist Ian Beger's special menus showcasing produce from the onsite farm, including a pre-fixe five-course New Year’s Eve dinner with Champagne bar and a midnight toast.

COVID 19: Castle Hot Springs AZSAFE + CLEAN accredited preparedness plan assures guests and team members’ safety. 

The Nautilus, Maldives 

The Nautilus, Maldives

Billed by industry experts as one of the top holiday destinations for travelers in 2021, stay a step ahead of next year’s getaway crowds with a Christmas trip to Indian Ocean paradise, the Maldives. For the ultimate in exclusivity, luxe bohemian hideaway The Nautilus is offering a tempting escape package that includes complimentary daily scheduled yoga and meditation classes, a three-hour ‘Stress Melter’ spa treatment, guided house reef snorkeling tour, and daily sunset cocktails at the Naiboli Pool Bar. Prices start at $37,000 for seven nights in a dreamy beach residence - decorated with custom furnishings each one features a separate living room, private infinity pool, and dedicated butler service. For an additional $18,000, upgrade to a private seaplane transfer, which, inclusive of VIP airport welcome and fast-track immigration processes, makes for an attractive package. 

COVID 19: The Nautilus Maldives is following local health authority and World Health Organization guidelines with measures in place across all touchpoints to ensure guests are safe, secure, and comfortable. 

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

If a gorgeously appointed 4,000 square-foot bungalow steps from the sand on the “Big Island” sounds enticing, look no further than Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection. Debuted in January and named alongside sister property Blue Sky Utah, as two of the World’s Best New Resorts on Travel + Leisure’s prestigious “It List,” the property enjoys a prime location along the sun-drenched Kohala Coast. From outrigger canoeing to SUP lessons, it’s an ideal destination for outdoor adventures, while five open-air restaurants offer a variety of local cuisine. Fans of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand can now shop clean beauty, athleticwear, and one-of-a-kind pieces at the new Goop store. Holiday programming includes beachside mixology classes and wine tastings between December 19 and January 2 with Kuleana Rum and Ola Brew. On New Year’s Eve, enjoy a special Hawaiian dinner at HaLani before ringing in 2021 at the Surf Shack with Mai Tais, live music, and fireworks at midnight.

COVID-19: In partnership with Vault Health, guests can take a state-approved test within 72 hours of traveling to Hawai’i as an alternative to the 14-day quarantine.

Wymara Resort & Villas, Turks & Caicos

Wymara Resort & Villas, Turks & Caicos

With its powder white sand and turquoise ocean, the British Overseas Territory of Turks & Caicos is a beach-lovers dream. Located southeast of the Bahamas, it offers romance, escapism, and world-class diving in spades. And anyone looking to reconnect with themselves, their families, or just get back to nature for more than a week will love the extended stay “Festive at Wymara” offer from the award-winning Wymara Resort & Villas. For every ten nights booked including daily breakfast, either at the newly renovated Grace Bay Beach resort or in one of its villas, four complimentary nights will be added to stays between December 20, 2020, and January 6, 2021. With rules fluctuating on a weekly, if not daily basis, Wymara’s flexible booking policy allows cancelations up to seven days before arrival for added peace of mind. A true home away from home in paradise, Wymara Villas sleep up to nine (perfect for families), come equipped with designer kitchens, two swimming pools, and a cascading deck that leads to a private swim platform with direct staircase access to a shallow and protected bay. 

COVID 19: Following CDC, WHO, and CARPHA guidelines, the Turks & Caicos has been welcoming travelers since July who can present a negative COVID-19 nasal swab test, within 5 days of their scheduled arrival date. 

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Keri Bridgwater

A native Brit, Keri Bridgwater spent time in house at magazines and publishers in Sweden, New Zealand and Telluride, Colorado before moving to San Diego over a decade ago. She specializes in travel stories, destination guides, hotel news, and profiles for various publications. Bylines in Fodor's, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, London's Evening Standard, and Virgin Australia's inflight magazine. ...(Read More)