When searching for the best destination to enjoy a magical Christmas, you need to be sure the destination offers important festive ingredients. Extravagant decorations are essential. It simply will not feel like Christmas if your vacation doesn’t glitter with an indulgence of lights and tinsel. Sparkling Christmas trees will get you in the festive mood along with a realistic Santa and, of course, your loved ones to share the big day. Ideally ingredients also include snow, music and toy shops, but I can guarantee a wonderful, although very different Christmas, at each of the destinations below.
Ever since Clark W. Griswold watched his “Christmas Bonus” swimming pool from a frost encrusted window to Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” in the classic National Lampoon Christmas movie, the Hawaiian Islands, with their peaceful pacific rhythms and endless sunshine have been a holiday mecca for me.
Here, Santa Claus heads down the beach, an enormous 15 metre Christmas tree shines and Elvis harmonises Christmas melodies along the shore as the warm sea laps on the white sand. Christmas in Hawaii shouldn’t work. No snow, no log fires, no wrapping up against the cold, and yet is does. Stay at one of the Four Seasons which are spread across these islands or the Halekulani in the centre of Waikiki and as the song says; “Christmas here is green and bright, the sun shines here by day and all the stars at night”. Enjoy an unbeatable festive atmosphere and oodles of decorations sparkling in the sunshine under those swaying palms.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York is a world-wide symbol of the holidays. With guaranteed cold, glamorous shopping and innovative window displays down Fifth Avenue and the a jumble of Disney, Lego toy stores up 5th Avenue, New York is the perfect place to enjoy a consumerist Christmas. Head to the southwest corner of Central Park, for a Holiday market where more than 100 vendors sell festive clothes, gifts, snacks and drinks. Skate on the two skating ponds or wrap up and hail one of the horse-drawn carriages for a ride around the park. Wrap up warm as it will be cold and it might just snow.
For guaranteed snow, drive up the winding road from Vancouver and bed down in this petite and walkable snow covered village. The main street here is strewn with twinkling lights throughout the festive season but the log cabin-style village is dwarfed by the snow covered peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. With the promise of snow throughout the Christmas season, whether the slopes beckon or you simply want to snuggle beside a roaring fire, the magical views over the forest and mountains will hit the spot. The rustic Four Seasons resort, on the edge of a pine forest and a step away from the slopes is the hotel to choose. Their love extends to heating your boots and warming up your insides with apple cider.
With a blue-blooded guest list that includes the Jordanian royal family, the Dutch royal family, Monaco’s Princess Caroline and the late Princess Dianna, you are in good company spending Christmas in Lech. This pretty farming village clustered around the church and mountain river guarantees a chocolate box Christmas. During Advent, a traditional Christmas market takes place at the Church square, or you can do your shopping in Strolz department store which sells thick fur coats, designer clothing and hand made toys. Stay at the ultra luxury Almhof Schneider for mesmerizing alpine views just a few steps from the village centre or the Aurelio (owned by a Russian billionaire) for a more exclusive experience mid way up the main slope.
Life doesn’t come more glamorous than Monaco on the French Riviera. This tiny Principality blows the budget at Christmas turning the iconic Casino Square into a Narnia style wonderland. Here, the streets jingle to Christmas tunes and snow encrusted trees are jammed into every corner. The Prince schedules a Christmas market on the main harbour, evening fireworks, street shows and music around the main Casino. The Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo offers a family package which includes gifts for the kids, an afternoon of tea, music, one-on-one with Santa, a gala dinner on Christmas Eve, and even a real tree in your hotel room!
This Christmas I will be sipping a hot chocolate under the Riviera stars, warmed by live music, circus folk on stilts and of course heater lamps. The snow is fake (even in winter it is often warm enough to wear t-shirts during the day in Monaco) but the festivities and decorations are probably the best in the world.
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