Christmas is fast approaching, and 2020 celebrations will have a new twist as a result of social distancing and other safety protocols. Hotels are working hard to make the season as happy and healthy as possible.
If you're still figuring out where to stay for Christmas, there are many hotels with loyalty programs hosting unique celebrations to fill the season with cheer. All of these properties are following strict COVID-19 guidelines while creating family-friendly experiences, making them some of the best places to stay for Christmas with points in the U.S. this holiday season.
Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, California)
Holidays at The Del is a lively time to visit, especially as a Hilton Honors member. This Curio Collection by Hilton property goes all out with Winter Wonderland activities from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31.
Seasonal events include photo ops with Santa Claus and hanging out under sparkling lights and special decorations. Arts and crafts activities, like making gingerbread houses, decorating cookies and building snow globes, are available to enjoy. An especially popular tradition is the “Jingle Roast,” which features a private beach bonfire with holiday s'mores, fireside treats and Santa hats. This activity alone makes it one of the most attractive places to stay for Christmas.
Hilton Honors members can use points to book stays or earn points on paid reservations.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Accor Live Limitless (ALL)
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Christmas at The Princess turns the resort into a winter wonderland with a four-story-high musical tree, desert ice skating rink, holiday character appearances and 4.5 million sparkling lagoon lights. Families can take it all in aboard a Princess Express train, now equipped with clear dividers for safety, or make s’mores around a fire pit.
Guests can decorate paper lanterns with messages of hope and peace to launch into the night sky, snap photos with Santa, watch the animated holiday light show.
There’s a special nightly rate for Arizona residents on regional road trips. Guests can earn Accor Live Limitless points for a stay or redeem points for gift cards to apply to room charges.
Overnight guests get free express pass admission to Christmas at The Princess, while local visitors searching for Christmas getaways nearby can pay for family admission and parking. Diners who spend at least $75 at any of the resort’s signature restaurants can likewise enjoy complimentary admission.
I Prefer Hotel Rewards
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (Farmington, Pennsylvania)
Each year, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort rolls out an impressive array of holiday programming. UNWRAPPED at Nemacolin features plenty of activities — many outdoors — including “winter wonderland” appearances by performers including New York City Ballet dancers.
Other activities include arts and crafts, ice skating, train rides, visits from Santa and elves, holiday movies, light shows, and art tours. Skiing, snow tubing and dog sledding begin Dec. 18.
I Prefer members can redeem points for gift cards to apply toward their stay.
Gaylord Hotels (Various locations)
Christmas at Gaylord Hotels through Jan. 3 features a smorgasbord of activities, from snow tubing and walk-through light shows to gingerbread house decorating and augmented reality animal experiences. Depending on which property you visit, you can enjoy horse-and-carriage rides, caroling and ice skating, too.
Nerd tip: New this year is the “I Love Christmas Movies” pop-up experience — an immersive adventure that takes families through scenes from classic holiday movies, like "Polar Express,” “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Elf.” With 13 interactive scenes to walk through, complete with audio clips and movie prop replicas, visitors will feel like they are part of the movie.
There are options in Orlando, Nashville, Dallas and Denver and all but the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville (Category 6) are Category 5 hotels. Award nights at Category 5 hotels cost between 27,500 and 40,000 points, while Category 6 properties require 35,000 to 60,000 points per night.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes (Orlando, Florida)
Orlando’s Grande Lakes complex, including both The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, is hosting a festive holiday event for locals and guests. Throughout December, the Grande Lakes Express will take children around the property in a nod to the famous Polar Express. Popular drinks, including cold weather cocktails and “adult” milk and cookies, are available from seasonal bar carts on the properties.
At the Ritz-Carlton, guests can take part in Gingerbread School and “Santa’s Teddy Bear Tea." "Story Time with Mrs. Claus” is likewise on offer, which includes a stocking filled with surprises plus a special visit from Santa.
Both are Category 6 properties within the Marriott Bonvoy programs, with nights going for 35,000 to 60,000 points per night.
The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel (Charlotte, North Carolina)
There’s plenty of festivity at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, in Charlotte this December. Every day, visitors can tour Gingerbread Lane, a free display featuring ornate gingerbread houses. Visitors can pay $1 to vote for their favorite, with proceeds going to a local children’s hospital.
Visitors can participate in one of six gingerbread house making classes for $50 with all supplies included. There are also lavish, holiday-themed afternoon tea events available Thursdays through Sundays.
This is a Category 6 property in the Marriott Bonvoy program and an award night goes for between 35,000 and 60,000 points.
Playa Largo Resort & Spa, an Autograph Collection Hotel (Key Largo, Florida)
During the 30 Holly Days of Playa Largo at Playa Largo Resort & Spa, an Autograph Collection Hotel, guests can enjoy ornament making and gingerbread house activities, “wine down holiday painting,” pajama parties and ugly Christmas sweater events. Kids can also write letters to Santa or participate in a holiday scavenger hunt, making it one of the best Christmas hotels in the U.S.
The resort is a Category 7 property in the Marriott Bonvoy program meaning that a redemption night goes for 45,000 to 70,000 points.
» Learn more: Why I love Marriott Bonvoy
Stash Hotel Rewards
The Red Lion Inn (Stockbridge, Massachusetts)
The Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires will continue its holiday tradition of decorating the entire hotel with dozens of holiday trees, poinsettias, wreaths, kissing balls and festive garland. Each guest room door boasts a wreath handmade using recycled materials, and the front porch features regular caroling performances to set the mood.
The hotel participates in the Stash Hotel Rewards program, but keep in mind that the prices vary by date and property.
World of Hyatt
Suncadia Resort (Cle Elum, Washington)
Winterfest festivities at this World of Hyatt - Destination Hotels resort take place between Nov. 26 and Jan. 3. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities from Santa’s Corner, where kids can fill out special postcards to Santa (instead of sitting on his lap). Guests can participate in winter-themed games on the farm, like snowball launching, snowman building contests, hot cocoa (and hot toddies) by the fire and special elf-gift-deliveries from Santa’s helpers.
Suncadia is a Category 5 property in World of Hyatt, meaning a redemption night starts at 20,000 points.
Wild Dunes Resort (Isle of Palms, South Carolina)
Near Charleston, this hotel hosts the Deck the Dunes Holiday Festival, featuring plenty of fun activities for all ages. To observe social distancing, guests get their own 10-foot-by-10-foot space for up to four people where they can play bingo, watch holiday movies and a virtual tree lighting and even interact with Santa himself.
Each family square comes with two beach chairs, drinks, popcorn, supplies for bingo and access to grab-and-go food stations. Santa will read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” outside so guests can watch and listen from a safe distance. Guests can also request milk and cookies delivered to their room by one of Santa’s helpers, or get a personalized visit from the big man himself.
Wild Dunes Resort is a Category 5 property within World of Hyatt, meaning that a redemption night starts at 20,000 points.
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