December 11, 2008

Give Mom a Break with a Holiday Getaway

Several years ago I found I was losing the holiday spirit after all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, mailing, baking, etc. I was pretty burnt out on Christmas by the time the big day arrived. One year I declared that I needed a break to get back in the Christmas spirit, and insisted we take a mini-vacation before the holiday. My criteria were simple: I didn’t want to cook, and it had to be a place with lots of holiday activities for the family. Since the old adage is true, “when Mom’s happy, everybody’s happy” it wasn’t difficult to convince my family to go along.

We went to Sunriver Resort near Bend, OR, whose annual Traditions celebration included horse-drawn sleigh rides, cookie decorating, caroling, and breakfast with Santa. My children were even tucked in one night by an elf that brought treats and read them a bedtime story! Spending this quality time with my family renewed my holiday spirit. I went home refreshed and happy, and ready to create wonderful holiday memories in my home.

I think more than ever this year people need to get away not just from the chores at home, but from the relentless stories of economic woe in the newspapers and on television. And travelers can take advantage of excellent promotions during this time. Many resorts are waiving the traditional 7 or 10 night minimum stay requirements typical for the holidays, and offering lower rates or more amenities than ever before. And when booking with a Virtuoso travel consultant, families get exclusive perks and VIP treatment at many of the world's top resorts.

For example, Four Seasons Jackson Hole is offering the fourth night free for arrivals December 18 through April 9. And as I am affiliated with a Four Seasons preferred agency, my clients also receive daily continental breakfast for two, a welcome amenity, and a complimentary upgrade (based on availability). The resort also has luxurious 2-5 bedroom residences in addition to hotel rooms and suites, which are conveniently situated for visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch at Beaver Creek, Colorado, caters to families with services such as a ski nanny, youth spa, and daily fire pit lighting with hot chocolate, apple cider and freshly baked cookies. A special treat for kids is borrowing the resort’s resident Labrador Retriever for a snowshoe hike. Exclusive Virtuoso amenities for my clients include daily continental breakfast for two, a $50 spa credit, and complimentary upgrade based on availability. (For 2009, the spa credit is being replaced with an $85 food credit.)

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is also offering a fourth night free, as well as a Mountain Adventure Package which includes daily breakfast and $100 CAD credit per day toward mountain activities. When booking with a Virtuoso travel consultant, guests also receive a complimentary signature martini with souvenir shaker. Special holiday events such as caroling, sleigh rides and dog-sledding are planned through December, and guests can also enjoy afternoon tea service and evening fondue dining. For a festive city getaway, the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Manhattan offers fashionable, family-friendly accommodations a short walk from Central Park and Madison Avenue shops. Their Pillows and Penguins package includes two connecting rooms, daily continental breakfast, a children’s gift bag, 4 tickets to Central Park Zoo, VIP Passes to a Jekyll and Hyde themed restaurant, and milk and cookies at bedtime.

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