10 Best Holiday Decor Resorts

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Happy Holidays and first day of December!  I have rounded up some of my favorite luxury hotels who are going above and beyond with their holiday decorating this year. From the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship to hand-sculpted sand tree reaching over 20 feet tall, and snow in San Diego (yes snow), these 10 best holiday decor resorts are the perfect place to celebrate this festive season.

1. The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne

Experience the holidays the Miami way at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne with a hand-sculpted sand tree reaching over 20 feet tall. Inspired by the sea, the tree is decorated with sand dollars and seahorses and laced with lights. The details on this immaculate sand tree are truly astounding. Each tier is sculpted to perfection and a starfish tops off the incredible masterpiece.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami is just minutes from the city’s cosmopolitan center, yet feels like a secluded island getaway with its lush tropical gardens, infinity ocean views and the only South Florida beach on Dr. Beach’s Top Ten Beaches in the U.S. list. Connected to Miami by a picturesque causeway, the luxury resort is a renowned spa destination, has four globally-inspired dining venues and marketplace café, which takes guests on culinary journeys to Tuscany, Coastal Mexico and St. Tropez, and has the largest tennis center of any Ritz-Carlton in the world.

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2. Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego

Located in North County San Diego, Rancho Bernardo Inn is full of Christmas cheer, and there’s never a dull moment between caroling, photos with Santa, cookie decorating for kids, storytelling, exploring Christmas Tree Row (approx. 8 full size christmas trees decorated to the hilt), outdoor christmas light show, plus special refreshments for grown-ups (in festive ‘red’ cups) and more! Every December, locals and guests alike are welcome to participate in the merriment! Each year the property has a life-size gingerbread house constructed in the lobby, housemate by Chef Margaret Carvallo. It’s made of only edible ingredients like a real gingerbread house would be. In addition to enjoying seasonal hot chocolate and cider, cookies and popcorn while soaking up some holiday cheer, dining options at the Inn include a special dinner buffet at Veranda Fireside Lounge and Restaurant ($33 adults/$12 kids | 4-9pm), Grab & Go concessions at Granada Room, or a la carte dining in AVANT Restaurant.

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3. The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans  New Orleans, Louisiana 

This year, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans will be transforming their annual gingerbread house into a beautiful winter castle.  Enter the ornate edible structure to find glass displays of scenes inspired by the popular movie Frozen, highlighting all of the lovable characters and favorite scenes. The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans’ ornate castle will bring a winter wonderland to the hotel this holiday season.

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4. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida

Guests will find the World’s Largest Gingerbread Pirate Ship returns to the Lobby at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.  This culinary masterpiece is made with over 600 pieces of gingerbread and adorned with sculpted pirates with colorful fondant clothing and a chocolate cannon and cannon balls. The ship sets sail on December 27th. Also enjoy beach time looking for sharks teeth on the shore and an amazing kid’s club.

5. The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami

The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami presents a chic twist on holiday décor. Curated mannequins dressed in traditional green foliage and flowers, inspired by the latest fashions seen from designers found at the nearby Bal Harbour Shops will be displayed throughout the hotel lobby this holiday season. A fashionable twist on the traditional Christmas tree!

6. Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, CA 

This holiday season the tallest waterfront hotel on the West Coast is bringing the snow to sunny San Diego. From December 22-31, the lobby of Grand Hyatt San Diego will be snowing (yes, you read that right, snow!). The property will be creating a winter wonderland complete with a gingerbread village, “snow” sandcastle and more, along with the fabulous snowfall that will occur four times a day, for thirty minutes each time.

7The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale

Throughout this holiday season The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale will have holiday decorations and various jolly events popping up all over the resort, making it the perfect destination for guests to get their fill of holiday cheer…and milk and cookies. The resort will be throwing a crazy milk and cookies party in the lobby the week of Christmas and Santa himself has already RSVP’d! Make sure to stop by, as guests will be delighted to find yummy holiday themed cookies and fun colored milk. Guests can also take part in an ornament-decorating workshop or catch some live music on Christmas Day with a live band playing holiday tunes at the Christmas Day Brunch Buffet. To really top off the resort’s holiday spirit, guests will find a changing array of holiday treats at all times in the lobby – think rum cake, yum!

8the ART Hotel, Denver, CO

Celebrate the holidays in the heart of Denver’s cultural district surrounded by the beauty of the ART Hotel’s captivating in-house art collection. Special for the holiday season the property is taking a twist on classic Christmas tree decorations, and adding to the hotel’s art esthetic with unique pop-art inspired trees throughout the lobby and halls. (Think: Andy Warhol inspired Christmas trees!) Artfully designed by local florist, The Perfect Petal the trees will inspire the playful Christmas spirit, as well as draw from the culture of Denver’s surrounding museums.

9The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples Florida

Escape to a Swiss winter wonderland at The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples (one of my favorite Ritz Carlton Hotels) with a giant Swiss chalet-inspired gingerbread house. The chalet, reaching almost 13 feet in height uses over 1,200 gingerbread bricks and over 60,000 pieces of candy. With European touches, guests will feel like they’ve transported to the Swiss Alps with this oversized gingerbread chalet built at The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples.

10The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota  Sarasota, Florida

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota will debut a penguin-themed gingerbread display this holiday season designed as a penguin wonderland.  Filled with both adult and baby penguins, these gingerbread creations can be seen playing, sunbathing, and more.  A slide is also built into the extravagant gingerbread house making it an interactive experience for the youngest guests of the The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. 1,200 gingerbread bricks are used along with 400 roof tiles, 450 pounds of flour, 675 pounds of sugar, and 200 pounds of candy are used to build this penguin wonderland.

Luxurious Winter Spa Treatments

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With the colder months upon us, what better way for travelers to warm up and replenish their dry skin than with enriching spa treatments. From a sugar polish in Hawaii to seasonal spa treatments found around the world, here are some of my top recommendations for luxury winter spa treatments:

Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay, Lana’i, HI

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay recently unwrapped a new look earlier this year with the refurbishment of all treatment rooms and great room featuring a clean, contemporary design incorporating natural wood found throughout the islands materials reflecting the hues and tones found on Lanai, anchored by distinctive Hawaiian artwork. A new menu just launched last month highlights a number of Hawaiian influenced treatments as well as a new range of well-being sessions, including the Macadamia Sugar Polish, a body scrub of ground macadamia nuts, grown abundantly on the Hawaiian islands, blended with pure Hawaiian cane sugar. Dull skin is gently exfoliated, releasing a glow that is felt both inside and out. Then, complete the experience with a virgin coconut oil full-body massage. 80 minutes | $240.

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Chill Spa at Hotel Terra

The elegant, intimate Chill Spa floats six floors off the ground, on the top floor of Hotel Terra Jackson Hole.  Designed with crisp fresh colors and light airy textures, Chill Spa includes six treatment rooms with vaulted ceilings, including a couples treatment room with a picture window, a deep soaking Jacuzzi and gas fireplace. This winter, guests can enjoy these festive treatments to celebrate the holiday season.

Organic Cranberry & Chocolate Hydrating Body Wrap 50 Minutes/$140

Enjoy an a festive cranberry sugar scrub to kick winter skin and indulge with a hydrating chocolate wrap.

Arctic Berry Peel & Peptide Illuminating Facial 80 Minutes $220

See anti-aging results with an enzymatic exfoliation and a natural peel featuring a powerful blend of arctic berries. Naturally-derived peptides finish the treatment with an illuminating glow!

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Solitude Spa at Teton Mountain Lodge

Named after one of Grand Teton National Park’s most spectacular high alpine lakes, Lake Solitude, Solitude Spa offers a great selection of experiential spa services to delight the mind, sooth the soul and enliven the spirit. With its tranquility lounge, steam showers, hot tubs and state-of-the-art fitness center, Solitude is a great place to indulge in their two winter exclusive spa treatments.

Solitude Spa is hosting a holiday celebration filled with champagne, complimentary skincare solutions featuring Naturopathica, giveaways, retail discounts, complimentary facility use, and Farm House Fresh Foot Massages on December 13 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm.

Gingerbread Body Scrub 45 Minutes $145

Your body will be treated to an intoxicating brown sugar polish to exfoliate and revive winter skin leaving the scent of gingersnap-bourbon behind.  The treatment is concluded with a thorough skin quenching house made product.

Vanilla Peppermint Mani Pedi Service

Enjoy a dreamy dip into a whole milk soak infused with chicory root and sweet almond oil followed by an invigorating vanilla peppermint salt scrub to buff away winter woes.  Once polished and smooth, enjoy a velvety buttercream shea butter massage finished with a color of your choice.

Manicure 45 Minutes $60

Pedicure 60 Minutes $8

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L’Auberge de Sedona – Sedona, AZ

Guests and spa lovers alike can warm up and ward off the winter blues with the Winter Blessings Body Scrub at L’Apothecary Spa, a newly designed space for hotel guests and Arizona visitors to blend their own custom body care products and experience spa treatments that draw upon the destination’s rich bounty of healing botanicals, fragrant herbs and flowers. With Orange Peel, Cedar Leaf, Cinnamon, Cloves and a choice of either Clove or Tangerine Essential Oil, the Winter Blessings Body Scrub will keep colds away with antiseptic properties as well as many antioxidants to help boost the immune system.

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Twin Farms – Barnard, Vermont

As the cold winter months approach,Twin Farms, the only five-star resort in Vermont, offers guests the perfect escape and spa treatment with a new Winter Wellness Package. Set amidst 300 acres of meadows and woodlands, the all-inclusive Relais & Chateaux property will provide guests who purchase this specialty package daily yoga classes, group hike/snowshoe trips, cooking demonstrations with award-winning Executive Chef Nathan Rich, breakfast juice bar and healthy in-room amenities. Twin Farms will be providing each guest who books the Winter Wellness package with a pair of “winter wellies,” complimentary Hunter Boots in their requested color (red, black, navy or green) and size in-room upon arrival to explore around the expansive property. Guests who reserve one of Twin Farms whimsical cottages tucked away in the property’s secluded woodlands can choose from a private yoga session or a Tata Harper facial in addition to the other wellness offerings. The Winter Wellness Package is offered during the following selected dates: (1/4-1/13, 2/1-2/10, 3/1-3/17). All-inclusive package rates start at $1,450/night.

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Paresa Resort – Phuket, Thailand

Paresa Resort, the hideaway-style luxury pool villa and pool suite resort perched on the cliffs of Kamala amongst a lush tropical forest in Phuket Thailand, is the perfect destination to reset the mind and body. Paresa boasts breathtaking views of the dramatic indigo Andaman sea, embracing the exclusivity of its natural surroundings. A world-class sanctuary inspired spa provides the ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation with unique and regionally-inspired experiences for ultimate restoration and purification of the senses. Paresa Resort offers a winter spa treatment, Dead Sea Salt Scrub, to remove the dead skin cells from the harsh winter climate to reveal younger looking, smooth skin and improve skin hydration by nourishing the skin with the essential minerals. The treatment lasts 45 minutes and is 2,300++THB.

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Half Moon– Montego Bay, Jamaica 

Half Moon is a 400-acre luxury resort located on Jamaica’s North Coast, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The resort features two miles of private, white-sand beach with 197 spacious rooms and suites. The AAA Four-Diamond resort has the only overwater bungalows in Jamaica; here, guests can get a couples massage looking out in to the ocean. It’s an incredible view and the sounds of the waves is really special.

The multi-award winning Fern Tree Spa, offers the perfect winter spa treatment, to hydrate and rejuvenate dry skin. The Coconut Milk and Honey Wrap uses intense hydrating coconut rich in vitamin E combined with the healing power of honey to nourish dry and chapped winter skin to leave skin with a healthy glow.

6 Must Resorts for National Yoga Month

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September is National Yoga Month, and here is a list of the 6 relaxing destinations to enjoy and channel your inner yogi. From Mexico to New England, here are 6 must resorts to put on your list!

 Tower23 in Pacific Beach, California is a luxury boutique, oceanfront property in San Diego, is excited to announce a brand new partnership with lululemon athletica, La Jolla for National Yoga Month. Throughout the month of September, Tower23 will host Sunset Yoga Sessions every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on the boutique hotel’s Tower Deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After achieving yogi bliss, guests are invited to enjoy healthy cocktails while mingling and watching the sunset at the hotel’s signature restaurant, JRDN. Space is limited and reservations are recommended. Donations are encouraged, with each session sponsoring a different cause:

For more information on Sunset Yoga Sessions, visit: http://www.t23hotel.com/events.

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Keystone Resort , Keystone, CO offers mountaintop yoga with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. The mind-body practice begins with a scenic gondola ride to the top of Dercum Mountain with breathtaking views of the 10-mile mountain range and clean, clear air. Then, a certified yoga instructor leads the discussion of the benefits of yoga along with an hour-long class for an unforgettable experience that refreshes and rejuvenates the spirit, body and mind. Good through September 13, 2014; beginning at $25 / person

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Vanderbilt Grace, the historical mansion turned luxe boutique property in Newport, RI, offers Full MoonYoga on the roof of the property. The class will be offered at midnight during each full moon for $15 on September 8th. The experience of yoga in the open air and under the full moon helps guest deepen their breath and connect to nature. Vanderbilt Grace includes 33 rooms and suites, and sumptuous spa and two restaurants including Muse by Jonathan Cartwright.

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Mayflower Grace, a Relais & Cheateaux New England Getaway nestled on 58 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and woodlands in Washington, CT, offers full moon guided meditation and yoga on full moon days from April to October. The property includes an award-winning 20,000 sq. ft. spa, newly refreshed rooms and two restaurants including the new fine dining restaurant by Chef Jonathan Cartwright, Muse.

  • Full Moon Guided Meditation:  Let us take you on a restful journey as we welcome Grandmother Moon.  Surround yourself with the scents and sounds of the night world in this totally unique, deeply relaxing, multi-sensory journey.  Comfortable clothing suggested. Complimentary to in-house guests on night of full moon.  Private session available for $110, plus tax and service charge. 45 minutes. From 7pm.
  • Moon Salutation Yoga: Please join us in welcoming the full moon with Chandra Namaskar, the Moon Salutation.  This beautiful, rejuvenating  ritual is appropriate for all levels. Complimentary to in-house guests on night of full moon.

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Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, MX is the original “fitness resort” and spa welcomes some 140 guests each week to its 3,000 private acres of gardens, mountains and meadows in Baja California, Mexico. All facilities and land are for the exclusive use of guests who come for an entire week, Saturday to Saturday, or partial-week stays of three or four nights. It’s a unique escape for women and men offering over 80 fitness classes including TRX, yoga, pilates and advanced hiking trails as well as spa treatments and therapeutic sessions. In addition to fitness and spa experiences, the Ranch offers daily lectures and workshops to inspire guests. Yoga first soared in popularity at Rancho La Puerta and throughout North America almost simultaneously. Although there were many sources of new yoga programs in the United States in the mid-20th century, leader Indra Devi (whom many credit as being the most influential yoga teacher of the time) was at the Ranch as well as their sister spa, the Golden Door. She even opened her own yoga retreat center next door to Rancho La Puerta. Rancho La Puerta offers a variety of yoga classes including Restorative Yoga, Yoga/Fundamentals Level One and Two, and Yoga Sculpt.  In addition, Specialty Weeks at the Ranch are offered year-round, featuring visiting guest speakers, talented performers and workshop leaders—authors, politicians, musicians, artists, MDs and other leaders in their fields — to present afternoon learning experiences and evening lectures. The Ranch also offers unique fitness retreats covering a wide range of exercise specialties led by fitness enthusiasts from all over the world. Examples include:

Yoga for Health and Wellness in September 2014 – A series of yoga classes offering yoga for insomnia, low back pain, digestion and more. Guests will learn about the common tips for a better night sleep, increase mobility and manage pain, and how to keep the body flowing.

Iyengar Yoga in October 2014 – The series will start at the guest’s level of ability and build from there. Through a systematic progression of poses guests’ abilities will develop over time, encouraging confidence and commitment.

Yoga for Every B.O.D.Y. in November 2014 – This dynamic mother and daughter have been co-teaching yoga, meditation, and guided hikes in Aspen, Colorado, where both reside, for the past 10 years. They have been featured in Forbes Magazine, Aspen Peak Magazine, Yoga Journal, Gaiam Catalogues, Healthy Planet, and Elephant Magazineamong other publications. River (ERYT-500) is a third generation yogini, who blends her dance, GYROKINESIS® exercise and somatic therapy with an alignment-based vinyasa flow that caters to all levels of practitioners. She has been teaching dance and yoga for over 18 years.  Shayne has a background in Rolfing, massage therapy and Iyengar Yoga, in which she has integrated a therapeutic approach that makes yoga accessible to all ages and body types. Join Yoga for Every B.O.D.Y. and witness your practice flourish and evolve no matter what your level of experience is.

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THE MODERN HONOLULU, Honolulu, HI  just announced their next date for their Glow Flow Yoga event as part of the hotel’s Modern Yogi series. This is the event that took place in the hotel’s popular nightclub (frequented by the likes of RiRi) which features a ceiling covered in 40,000 lightbulbs. Aside from the black lights, the venue will be packed with neon painted yogis doing their best asanas.

Inside THE MODERN HONOLULU’s exclusive ADDICTION Nightclub, yogis can experience a modern take on the traditional yoga class with Glow Flow Yoga Event on Saturday, September 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception followed by yoga at 7 p.m. Glow Flow Yoga hosted by THE MODERN in partnership with Power Yoga Hawaii is a black light yoga class where yogis get zen by painting their faces with in glow-in-the-dark paint for a yoga experience unlike any other. Tickets to the event are $30 and are available for pre-sale only at: www.poweryogahawaii.com.