(photo: Resort at Paws Up)
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at top family resorts around the country, some of which are already busy breaking out the tinsel for the busy holiday season. With children around the country enjoying as much as two weeks of school holidays, many families will turn Christmastime into an opportunity for a vacation.
Here are six luxurious resorts pouring on the Christmas cheer for families with festivities ranging from cookie decorating and elf tuck-ins to visits with Santa.
Resort at Paws Up
Where: Greenough, MT Why: Because this luxurious Montana resort is offering an all-inclusive holiday escape that gives your family its own decorated Christmas tree and even -- gasp! -- your very own Santa. The five-night Christmas Package starts at $557 a night for a family of four and includes accommodations and all meals, including dinner on Christmas Day, as well as horse-drawn sleigh rides, a gingerbread house-building contest, cookie decorating, and a selection of holiday DVDs to watch.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation
Where: Amelia Island, FL Why: Because this upscale northeast Florida beach resort is looking swell after an $85-million renovation and tempts with multiple swimming pools and a kid-centric splash park. The Elves & Eggnog Package delivers a 20-percent discount on a two-night stay, daily breakfast in bed, specialty egg nog cocktails, late check-out, and an in-room showing of the movie "Elf." Available through Dec. 30.
Where: Coronado, CA Why: Because the iconic grand beach resort near San Diego goes all out for the holidays, with an outdoor ice skating rink under the palms, Victorian-style Christmas village, popular holiday show, Santa gondolier rides, elf tuck-ins, Victorian teas, and sumptuous decorations that include over 100,000 tiny white lights. The 125 Years of Holiday Magic Package starts at $374 a night and includes a family ice-skating lesson, collector's Christmas ornament, $125 resort credit, and parking discount. Available for stays Nov. 27, 2013, to Jan. 4, 2014.
Where: Colorado Springs, CO Why: Because this luxurious and sprawling mountain resort is outdoing itself this holiday season with a spectacular decorations, sumptuous holiday buffets, a life-size gingerbread house, live Christmas show, daily holiday culinary demonstrations, and cupcake and gingerbread decorating. The Classic Broadmoor Christmas package starts at $170 per person and includes overnight accommodations, tickets to the Christmas show, and a 40-percent discount on suites.
Where: Greensboro, GA Why: Because this plush lakeside resort near Atlanta is making the season bright with an array of nostalgic traditional activities, including s'more-roasting, ice skating, gingerbread house-decorating and, for the kids, elf tuck-ins, breakfast with Santa, and "St. Nick's Flicks" movie nights. The Breakfast with Santa package is available weekends through Dec. 20, starting at $339 a night for a two-night stay, and includes accommodations and breakfast with the big guy himself. To book, call 800/826-1945.
Mohonk Mountain House
Where: New Paltz, NY Why: Because this all-inclusive family-friendly retreat in the Hudson Valley is less than two hours from New York City, making it a perfect midweek escape during the holiday season. On display are spectacular handmade swags, elaborate gingerbread creations, and decorated Christmas trees, while holiday activities include a family Yule log hunt, holiday craft-making, and caroling. The December Delight package starts at $186.90 per person -- a wink to the historic landmark hotel's founding in 1869 -- and includes accommodations, two meals per day plus afternoon tea and cookies, and most resort activities. Available for midweek stays (Sun.-Thurs.) only, Dec. 1-19, 2013. To book, call 855/274-4020.