Incredibly, the holiday season is just around the corner—so we’ve rounded up a few fun ideas and offers for clients who want to do something a little different this year. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Puerto Rico: A Boricua Holiday
If you’ve ever wanted the holidays to last forever, then head over to Puerto Rico, where the fun begins on Thanksgiving Day and continues through mid-January when they celebrate Saint Sebastian through the streets of Old San Juan during what islanders call la SanSe.
During those roughly 45 days, Puerto Ricans pull out all the culinary and cultural stops, gathering for musical parrandas at private homes, drinking coquito, the Puerto Rican version of eggnog made with coconut milk and rum, and feasting on arroz con gandules, lechón and pasteles. Christmas Eve trumps Christmas Day for festivities, you eat 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s Eve and Three King’s Day on Jan. 7th means a trip to “la isla” or the countryside, where the fresh air is filled with the sound of music and tables and chairs are pushed back for dancing. (La SanSe takes place on the eight days after Three Kings Day.)
If your clients are looking for an unforgettable and unique Christmas holiday celebration, they need to look no farther than Puerto Rico (roll your rrrr’s).
Here’s a recipe for coquito, in case it piqued your curiosity. Traditional recipes are handed down from generation to generation, but now there are variations such as pistachio, chocolate and even guava coquito:
Traditional Coquito Recipe:
- 1 can of condensed milk
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 1 can of cream of coconut (most Puerto Ricans prefer Coco López)
- ½ cup of white rum (Preferably Don Q or Bacardí)
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (add more to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender. Then transfer traditional coquito into glass bottles and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cinnamon stick
For more information, visit discoverpuertorico.com.
Holiday Cheer at Fairmont Mayakoba
Tucked away in the heart of Mexico’s sultry Riviera Maya, Fairmont Mayakoba is sporting a new look after a multi-million dollar renovation and a slew of holiday experiences on tap between Dec. 18, 2023, and Jan. 1, 2024.
For the gourmets at heart, the resort has put together fun combinations such as Champagne & S’Mores and Prosecco Sangria Pitchers, as well as cookie decorating events and an authentic Mexican tianguis, or marketplace. Special activities include a Christmas tree lighting with hot chocolate, bubbles and a drone show thrown in for good measure, exclusive movie screenings, wellness activities and more. The kid’s club is gearing up for a visit from Santa, karaoke nights and teen stargazing, while the Spa has added a festive warm pedicure, Mexican punch body treatments and a bubble mud bath to its wellness lineup.
For more information, visit fairmont-mayakoba.com.
Head North for New Experiences with Up Norway
Luxury tour operator Up Norway is all about slow travel, unique experiences and off-the-beaten-path excursions—and the holidays offer a perfect excuse to indulge in their winter wonderland journeys.
Suggestions include a visit to the Lofoten Islands of Northern Norway for a pre-Christmas visit north of the Arctic Circle. Clients will stay in private villas in secluded villages, perfect for relaxing after hiking, snowshoeing, photographing the Northern Lights or perusing the traditional red rorbu cabins that have been transformed into an artisan Christmas market. They can also enjoy workshops in glassblowing, ceramics and sustainable wool.
Groups of up to 12 can enjoy a stay at the Amot family estate and a getaway that can include a winter cruise in the Dalsfjord, winter hikes with outdoor lunches prepared in a cabin with views of the fjords and mountains, stargazing from an outdoor hot-tub, on-site stone massages, yoga sessions and meals prepared by the resident chef using locally sourced foods.
And then, of course, there’s Oslo, where the operator suggests clients stay a few days before boarding the train that takes them to the mountain village of Geilo for kick-sledding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing or dog sledding, followed by a trip on the famous Flam Railway to Voss, where they can enjoy even more winter activities in the stunning fjord landscape. The journey ends in a treetop cabin in the Finnskogen forest, where evenings fall to the sound of wolf howls and hooting owls.
For more information, visit upnorway.com.
Sedona’s Enchantment Resort is Ready for the Holidays
About 9 miles outside of the beautiful red rock city of Sedona, the Enchantment Resort is truly an enchanting destination, tucked away as it is on 70 acres of Boynton Canyon. The hotel offers a combination of guestrooms, suites and casitas with decks offering stunning views of the red-rock mountains, some with fireplaces, kitchens, private pools or hot tubs. This is the place to connect with nature on guided hikes, mountain biking or some of the best star-gazing in the country.
Holidays in the Red Rocks take on an extra special meaning at Enchantment, whether it’s the Thanksgiving Day Buffet (open to locals and guests alike) or Dinner at Che Ah Ch, the resort’s signature restaurant for a prix fixe menu with a desert flair. Your active clients will love the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning—it’s a 5-mile walk run guided by the hotel’s Trail House experts. Enchantment has also prepared a Thanksgiving Gathering Circle and a donation-based boot-camp-style workout, the Turkey Burner, to help them get rid of the calls.
In December, Enchantment breaks out an ice-skating rink with 360-degree views of Boynton Canyon, a Tree Lighting Ceremony, a chance to visit Santa’s Workshop and have Storytime with Mrs. Clause, culinary classes with the resort chefs, a Winter Solstice Ceremony, Sound Immersion, Mandala Art and a New Year Manifestation so your clients can set their intentions for 2024 by visiting the Mii Amo (spa) Crystal Grotto.
For information, visit enchantmentresort.com.
Beachside Holiday at Kona Village, A Rosewoood Resort
The brand new Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, a luxurious 150-stand-alone guestroom and suite getaway spread out over 81 acres, has prepared a menu of holiday experiences that follow the spirit of ‘ohana (family) and will keep young and old engaged.
The fun starts the week before Thanksgiving with morning canoe paddles and other outdoor experiences that culminate in not one but two Thanksgiving feasts and continues through December and New Year’s with A Pianolol Night that pays homage to the Hawaiian cowboy with a BBQ and more; a traditional Hawaiian Luau with music, dancing and storytelling; family-friendly classes where they can all learn to play the ukelele, dance the hula, make leis and more; a Sip and Sailing Canoe Sunset evening on Kahuwai Bay; a mixology class at Moana Pool Bar; a Christmas market with local vendors; a visit from the bearded man himself (aka Santa) and much more. Throughout the 12 days of the season, the resort offers morning paddles, sunrise chants, cultural tours and more.
The resort is literally set up like a village, with some of its hales (guestrooms and suites) set up in crescent formations so families and friends can have their own special enclave—a perfect environment for holiday happenings.
For more information, visit rosewoodhotels.com.
Honolulu for the Holidays
Hawaii is where you ditch the coats and slather on the sunscreen for the holidays, and nothing says “Mele Kalikimaka” more than the legendary Halekulani on Waikiki beach. This luxury property is hosting its annual 12 Days of Christmas festivities from Dec. 14 – 25, with fun for all in the family. Think poolside Hawaiian shave ice cones for young and old and holiday craft cocktail classes for the adults, where they’ll learn to make the iconic Paper Doll (and take home the recipe to impress their friends!)
At the famed Royal Hawaiian Center, your clients will enjoy the tropical winter wonderland at the so-called “Rockefeller Center of the West,” with its extraordinary decorations and fun performances. The festivities kick off on Nov. 22 when Santa arrives to lead the lighting of the 34-foot-tall tree decorated with palaka bows, plumeria and ukelele in true Hawaiian fashion. The holiday entertainment is free through Dec. 25, with shopping in the local Hawaii boutiques and logo shops (think Hermes), free photos and more.
New Year’s Eve at the Center means a look back at the Japanese New Year tradition of fukubukuro, which they have transformed into their exclusive Lucky Bag Promotion happening Jan. 1-2, 2024. Merchants including Dean & DeLuca, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Ferragamo and more will have their merchandise for sale at half off, but each bag’s contents will be kept secret until they’re opened. Lucky clients will have a chance to show off their new purchases at the New Year’s Eve party, Rock-a-Hula, when they choose one of two luau packages or a show-only package.
Hawaiian Cheer and Holiday Cake in Japan
Meanwhile, the Halekulani Okinawa luxury resort is ringing in the holidays, Hawaiian-style, with the theme Hau’oli Makahiki—Hawaiian for Happy New Year. Signature dinner events and new artisan cocktails (including a White Chocolate Affogato mocktail) are on tap from Dec. 23 – Jan. 3, plus guests can also take home traditional Japanese New Year crafts like Shimenawa. And this being in one of the world’s five Blue Zones means your clients can indulge in wellness activities to extend their time on this earth with the property’s immersive Escapes Programs.
Interestingly, one of Japan’s most popular holiday traditions is the Christmas Cake, and at Kyoto’s Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto, the art of the cake means a traditional Kyoto Strawberry Shortcake topped with Kyoto-grown Tantan Strawberries as well as a Mont Blanc pastry topped with a chestnut paste made with local Tamba chestnuts. Holidays here are a sweet-toothed gourmand’s dream come true.