Holiday Magic at 5 Elegant Hotels

Photo Courtesy of the Fairmont Empress Hotel

Instead of cooking, shopping and entertaining this holiday season, picture yourself enjoying over-the-top decorations, glittering lights and festive menus—all without washing a dish or trimming a tree. Yes, you and your loved ones can experience this (and more), indulging in precious time together while someone else handles the work. From lavish light displays to carolers roaming the halls, these North-west hotels will help you celebrate the season in style, whether you’re spending a couple of nights or just dropping in for a festive tea or brunch.

Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene, ID
This Idahoan resort is known for creating a wildly impressive winter wonderland sure to delight even the most cynical Scrooge. To experience the magic, all you need to do is step outside the modern-style resort on any night between Thanksgiving and the New Year. That’s when more than 1.5 million lights illuminate the entire 200-acre property, including the northern banks of tranquil Lake Coeur d’Alene.

A must for families is the 40-minute evening lake cruise, which runs every hour, to the “North Pole,” conveniently located on the lake’s one-of-a-kind floating golf green. At Santa’s workshop, you will meet cheerful elves and marvel at the 160-foot Christmas tree decked out with 40,000 lights. A fireworks show is set off at every lake cruise but for an even grander fireworks display, make sure to be there the day after Thanksgiving.

Festivities are offered inside the resort as well, including story times with elves, Christmas performances and Sunday brunches with Santa Claus. On select evenings, the lobby is filled with song as carolers in Victorian garb stroll about. Both couples and families find special holiday lodging packages, which can include accommodations, lake cruise tickets and dining credits. To plan your Idaho winter getaway, go to cdaresort.com or coeurdalene.org.

Fairmont Empress, Victoria, B.C.
Overlooking Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, The Fairmont Express (recently remodeled) is perfect for those craving a regal winter getaway that’s a mashup of ultra contemporary style and turn-of-the-century British charm.

This season expect more than a month of holiday-themed events, from spirits and s’mores on the outdoor veranda to Christmas activities and candy buffets with the kids. Festive touches throughout the hotel include elegantly decorated trees, wreaths and a larger-than-life outdoor light feature.

Celebrate with sumptuous meals and elegant galas, such as the Christmas Day buffet (carved meats, seafood and classic dishes) or the black-tie New Year’s Eve party featuring a local jazz artist. Look for special lodging packages on those evenings.

No trip to The Empress is complete without partaking of its famed Victorian tea service, where even celebrities and royalty have been known to drop by. Located in the Lobby Lounge, afternoon tea is a hotel tradition dating to when The Empress first opened its doors. During the holidays, the service turns even more festive with the addition of seasonal scones and finger sandwiches. For even more cheer, visit during one of two select weekends in December when costumed carolers will serenade tea-service patrons. Reservations are highly recommended.

For more information on visiting The Fairmont Empress or Victoria, see fairmont.com/empress-victoria and tourismvictoria.com.

To read more find this issue at your local Albertsons, Safeway, Fred Meyer or Barnes & Noble.

Subscribe online today