Friday, October 20, 2017

Winter Wanderlust: Holiday Happenings in Luxe Locations

Get in the spirit at these West Coast paradises.

‘Tis the season to plan adventures to cozy lodges and winter wonderlands. We’ve rounded up a few West Coast destination ideas that promise to make the season especially merry and bright. (However, if you’re seeking a getaway where flip flops top the “must pack” list, here’s a reminder of warm-weather destinations that might be calling your name this winter, too.)

Courtesy Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Courtesy Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Hood Canal’s Holiday Hub

If lodges with lobby fireplaces and rocking chairs are your thing, Alderbook is your place. Located less than two hours from Seattle (via car or car/ferry combo), this tranquil resort plops you on the edge of a mirror-like body of water, in the midst of sweet-smelling pines and just a half-hour drive from Hama Hama’s tasty oyster haven. Eating on the property proves a treat, too, thanks to the foraging ways of the resort’s talented culinary team.

While Alderbrook’s a dream to visit in any season, the holidays feel especially magical in this stunning, serene setting. Attend the Tree Light Ceremony November 25 (check out footage from events past here), or take a Cocoa Cruise with Santa on the Lady Alderbrook (beginning November 26). Consider booking a Christmas brunch at the  resort or ringing in the New Year with a party that features a tasting menu, live music, dancing, a Champagne toast and, of course, fireworks. (Call  360.898.5500 for reservations and more info.)

Courtesy Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Courtesy Alderbrook Resort & Spa

British Columbia Brings the Magic

Due to the current exchange rate (sorry friends to the north!), this makes it a great time for Americans to vacation in Canadian hot spots like Vancouver. On Vancouver Island (just a short, convenient Clipper ride away from downtown Seattle) winter in Victoria is as quaint as one might imagine—whether you glide across the ice rink (from December 1 to January 6) at an illuminated Butchart Gardens or experience Christmastime events like the Inner Harbour Marina Light Up, that begins November 26 and runs through the end of December.

Courtesy Pacific Sands

Courtesy Pacific Sands

In Tofino, on the island’s rugged west coast, Pacific Sands makes an ideal oceanside hub for taking in seasonal delights like Tofino Winterlights November 25 through January 8 and the Jingle (& Mingle!) event on December 2. Guests love Pacific Sands’ full kitchens that can be found in all units plus the venue’s surf-in, surf-out factor for those wanting to catch some waves.

Check out tempting packages that range from one-bedroom beach house offers to storm-watching deals (yes, this is a definite thing in Tofino!) and a Pacific Surf Package that encourages hearty outdoors enthusiasts to take advantage of year-round surfing in a gorgeous, laid-back place.

Mount Baldy Slack Country Competitor photo courtesy Carmella Consulting

Mount Baldy Slack Country Competitor photo courtesy Carmella Consulting

To celebrate the season in the South Okanagan (“Canada’s desert”), head to welcoming Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, where the Watermark Beach Resort makes a perfect home base to explore regional riches at a blissfully quieter time of year. Here you’ll find breathtaking scenery and a vast range of wineries—from big-production hot spots to tiny boutique operations run out of the back of someone’s home. The winemakers prove friendly and accessible; a few of the many stand-outs include Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America, Covert Farms, a family favorite thanks to its giant jumping “pillow” and resident llamas and Platinum Bench Winery, known for its wine-bread pairings and delectable on-site artisan bakery.

From November 25 through December 4, 30 wineries participate in Winter in Wine Country Festival, bringing seasonal get-togethers from carol singing and special tasting room opportunities to fabulous displays of Christmas lights. The festivities launch with the Oliver Community Light Up and Fireworks on November 25 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Oliver Community Park; bring the kids to meet Santa and enjoy family-friendly fun before a bonfire and fireworks. On December 3 and 4, Osoyoos heralds the holidays with its own Christmas illumination and parade.

Courtesy Watermark Beach Resort

Courtesy Watermark Beach Resort

The list of celebrations goes on and on. Sip complimentary mulled Merlot at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards on November 26 & 27 and December 3 & 4 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), see the 60,000 Christmas lights illuminate Silver Sage on the same weekends (11 a.m.-5 p.m.), create Christmas wine crafts at Oliver Twist (and take a photo with Santa on December 3 & 4), or listen to Yuletide music at Burrowing Owl (noon-2 p.m. November 26).

When planning your trip, be sure to ask Watermark about two fantastic deals they’re offering this winter: the “Do Winter Getaway Package” and “Ski and Stay” promo. Much to BC skiers’ delight, the area’s beloved Mount Baldy reopens December 1.

Courtesy Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association

Courtesy Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association

Leavenworth Gets Illuminated

Sleeping Lady Resort, a cluster of cabins located in the Cascade Mountains, keeps its calendar packed with a slew of November and December events to complement the Christmas Lighting Festival that enlivens the town throughout the month. The welcoming resort, nestled in a beautiful nature-filled setting near a faux Bavarian village, features a farm-to-table restaurant, pampering spa, woodland hot rock pool and sauna, Grotto bar and proximity to a number of outdoor recreation activities such as skiing at nearby Stevens Pass and sleigh rides across a dreamy wonderland, offered by Icicle Outfitters.

Courtesy Gypsy Tan

Courtesy Gypsy Tan

The property has also gained fans for perks like its Canine Companion Room and a self-guided art walk that features the outdoor Icicle Chandelier by Dale Chihuly, among other mixed-media sculptures. Pack up your cold-weather gear, and plan an awesome Leavenworth-area adventure now.

Courtesy Sunriver Resort

Courtesy Sunriver Resort

Bend Does the Season Right

Think snow-dusted evergreens and hearthside cocoa at Oregon’s Sunriver Resort, where holiday traditions burn bright. We could give you a million reasons to head south toward this magnetic NW destination in wintertime, and the top of our list would mention steals on room rates — up to 35% less than in summer months — and of course the 18th Annual Traditions Celebration, which features more than 150 activities and events from Thanksgiving through New Years’ Day.

Courtesy Sunriver Resort

Courtesy Sunriver Resort

Holiday festivities kick off November 19th with the lighting of the tree and the Grand Illumination Parade, launching into seasonal favorites from snowshoeing tours and gingerbread cookie decorating to the Grand Illumination Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Marketplace. Other fantastical traditions include “Elf Tuck-Ins” (reservations required, available November 26, December 9-10 and 16-24), “Santa’s Workshop” and Snow Painting” gatherings, during which families channel their inner artist on a blank canvas of snow (available December 2 through 23 at Meadows Hole 10).

Courtesy Resort at Squaw Creek

Courtesy Resort at Squaw Creek

Seeking Snow in Lake Tahoe

Looking to get even farther away from home this season? Set your sights on the exquisite Resort at Squaw Creek (“delivering high-altitude fun in a dramatic alpine valley”), where Magical Memories Programming enchants guests with daily celebrations the whole gang will enjoy.

You’ll find family-friendly events, food and drink specials, festive meals, live music and annual highlights like the tree lighting ceremony and gingerbread village unveiling, which both take place November 25. Daily activities include slope-side music, sunset snowshoe tours and family movie nights, while weekends fill with Santa breakfasts and snow fort building competitions. This luxury California resort finds its home in an idyllic mountain setting at the base of Squaw Valley, which was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Courtesy Resort at Squaw Creek

Courtesy Resort at Squaw Creek

 

About Corinne Whiting

Corinne, an east coast native who relocated here from the other Washington in 2011, was bit by the travel bug early on. She lived in Strasbourg, France (during her junior year at Georgetown University) and in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she got a masters degree in Cultural Studies. She feels very grateful to have explored incredible spots on our globe ranging from Bolivia and Egypt to Turkey and China, but there are passport pages yet to fill (and travel tales yet to be written!). After serving as associate editor at Where magazine in D.C. for five years, Corinne has embarked on a new adventure here in the PNW as a freelance writer and photographer, contributing to publications like National Geographic Traveler, the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine, Amtrak's OnTrak, 1889 Washington, 1859 Oregon, Visit Seattle and so on. She loves exploring this incredible corner of the country while debunking the rain myths, upping her coffee quotient, hearing heaps of live music and finding her Zen near the water as often as possible.
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