Traveling during December might be fun for the kids yet can get frazzling for parents. Most properties decorate to some degree and have holiday menus in their restaurants, but a few go above and beyond hauling out trees, snowflakes and tinsel to offer experiences that can add a little excitement and make holiday travel more enjoyable for everyone.
Gaylord Hotels is usually tops with its holiday offerings, and this year is no exception. The company has partnered with DreamWorks Animation to offer “Christmassy DreamWorks Experience” packages at all four of its properties, and its annual ICE! events—life-sized winter wonderlands hand-carved from two million pounds of ice at each Gaylord Hotel—will be themed this year to reflect two popular DreamWorks television specials: Shrek the Halls and Merry Madagascar.
In addition, Kung Fu Panda Awesome SNOW at the Gaylord Palms and Gaylord Texan bring white powder to warm climates, where kids can play in underground snow tunnels, tube down a 64-foot pagoda slide, and build snowmen and forts at the Palms, and soar through an eight-lane tubing hill at the Texan.
Packages start at $149 per person for one night, $199 per person for two nights and include admission to ICE! as well as various events, such as special dining experiences, character meet-and-greets, Puss In Boots screenings, a Shrektacular street party and scavenger hunts, depending on the specific offerings at each property. For more details, visit www.gaylordhotels.com.
Christmas at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, this year includes an expanded KaLightoscope attraction, a new Christmas village with a Snow Fairy Castle, a new learning center, kid’s activities, an enhanced Mistletoe Marketplace and the annual Color’s of the Season’s dinner show with Santa. Packages start at $225 per night. Individual tickets also are available for the attractions and dinner show for non-guests of the hotel. Visit www.christmasatthegalthouse.com for more information.
Loews Hotels in Southern California will be offering holiday experiences that are geared more toward adults or older kids traveling this month. Guests at the Loews Coronado Bay in San Diego taking the “Buon Natale” gondola cruise will be serenaded by a Santa gondolier singing Christmas carols while plying the canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays, complete with hot cider (spiked or regular) and sugar cookies. Available December 16 to 23, $145 per one-hour cruise.
The “Not so Wintery Wonderland” reception held each night from December 14 to 25 in the Fireside lounge at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel will include complimentary hot cider, holiday music, ornament decorating for kids, “Rudolph Roll” sushi demonstrations (we assume there will not be reindeer meat in the roll) and a special holiday menu.
Both hotels are offering “Home for the Holidays” promotions through January 8, 2012, with 20 percent off for stays of three or more nights. Rates start at $239 in Santa Monica and $127 in San Diego.
Photos: Gaylord Hotels, Galt House, Loews Hotels
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