Do you envy Santa Claus?
While many of us host our surprisingly extended families, his jolliness gets to ho-ho-ho his way around the globe's most festive destinations. While we follow the same holiday routines – comforting though they may be – Santa leaves his sleigh with the valet at stylish hotels, cozy lodges and luxurious resorts the world over. And those "deliveries" we hear so much about: Are they merely an excuse to get out of the workshop and sample the best of the holiday season?
But instead of begrudging St. Nick for his reindeer-powered gallivanting, you can follow his lead by embarking on one of the sublime festive getaways listed here. There's something for every taste, and every single one will make you feel merry and bright without having to don an itchy fur jumpsuit.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alta.:
If it's festive enough for Bing Crosby – who shot a movie here in 1948 and has a cabin named after him – it's festive enough for this list. This charming collection of cabins surrounding a massive Great Hall hosts an annual Festival of Christmas featuring bedtime stories by the enormous central fireplace, cookie decorating classes, a stocking workshop, skating parties, caroling excursions and more. The fest has been wrapped into an overnight package, starting at $233 a night, that includes an in-room Christmas tree with decorations. fairmont.com/jasper
COMO Metropolitan London: Right in the heart of the tony Mayfair district – home to the Burlington Arcade, among other upscale shopping options – this boutique property's shopping package includes a bottle of Champagne, breakfast, £50 ($84 Canadian) worth of vouchers for the Selfridges department store, an aromatherapy gift box and the Independent London guidebook. From $770 a night. comohotels.com/metropolitanlondon
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler: On Dec. 16, this luxe lodge at the base of North America's largest ski resort will unveil "The Cabin," a rustic adults-only pop-up lounge with an outdoor heated terrace and fire pit. Along with a range of local craft beers, B.C. wines and creative cocktails, guests can sample local fare such as charcuterie from nearby Two Rivers Meats and brie from Golden Ears Cheese. fourseasons.com/whistler
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vt.: This 66-year-old property, owned and operated by the family that inspired The Sound of Music, is abuzz with Austrian holiday customs. These include a series of 13 themed Christmas trees, healthy servings of Linzer torte, and even caroling with the Von Trapps themselves. To work off all that torte, more than 100 kilometres of cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails start right outside the front door. Rates start at $175 (U.S.) a night for a family of four. trappfamily.com
Lumina Borealis, Kingston: This brand-new multimedia attraction in historic Fort Henry is described as Frozen meets It's a Wonderful Life. Using a digital sound and light show incorporating 40 projectors placed in and around the fort's lower section, the multimillion-dollar tour guides visitors through winter scenes with names such as Iceberg Alley, Singing Aurora and Frozzinator until Feb. 4. Admission is free for children aged 5 and under; $10 for those aged 6 to 12; and $12 for everyone else. luminaborealis.com
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Fla.: Tidings of comfort and … drones? Yes, the new Starbright Holidays show at the world's largest theme park features 300 of Intel Corp.'s Shooting Star drones in a choreographed aerial performance set to holiday music.
Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, Ont.: After reading their complimentary copy of the Unique as a Snowflake storybook, children staying in this water-park resort chain's garlanded "Snowland Suites" will be tucked in by mascots Wiley and Violet the Wolf, who will also serve milk and cookies. Snowland Suites start at $110 (Canadian) a person, per night, and include water-park access. greatwolf.com/Niagara
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saison, England: This refined country estate just east of Oxford is presenting a series of Christmas Carol Concerts throughout December that will be followed by a five-course black-tie dinner overseen by French celebrity chef Raymond Blanc. Rates for the concert and dinner start at $1,400 (U.S.) a night based on double occupancy. belmond.com
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Casino de Montréal: The first Canadian outpost of France's most famous master chef is slated to open on Dec. 7. If the only other New World location, in Las Vegas, is anything to go by, expect classic French fare prepared in an action-packed open kitchen. casinos.lotoquebec.com
For the cocktail crowd
Conrad Miami: Think it never snows in south Florida? Think again. Throughout December, "Jack Frost Happy Hour" brings light dustings of man-made snow to the in-house Bar at LvL 25, where holiday cocktails include the Belvedere Pomegranate Royale. conradhotels3.hilton.com
City Lights Rooftop Bar, Charlotte, N.C.: Located on the 19th floor of Le Méridien Charlotte hotel, this stylish lounge is celebrating its first holiday season with an "Elf on the Rooftop" event that mixes Ginger-Infused Rum Hot Toddies with an "Elfie Selfie Station" and a 16-foot-tall Christmas tree. citylightsrooftop.com
Casa Lucila, Mazatlan, Mexico: You and yours can have all eight guestrooms to yourselves by booking this boutique hotel's Christmas Package. The $1,944-a-night buyout includes a private tamale-making class for the entire group (of up to 18 people), a holiday feast at an enormous communal dining table and a toast around Casa Lucila's Christmas tree. casalucila.com
For aspiring Clark Griswolds
Butchart Gardens, Victoria: What do you get when you cross festive illumination that blows National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation away with gardens straight out of Alice in Wonderland? The answer lies just north of British Columbia's capital, where this 55-acre estate – open to the public since 1904 – features a glorious "Magic of Christmas" light display. Admission is $26.60 (Canadian) for adults, $13.30 for youths, $3 for children and free for those aged 5 and under. butchartgardens.com
Langham Place, New York: How much holiday cheer does $150,000 (U.S.) get you? With this luxurious Manhattan hotel's "Christmas State of Mind Package," you get three nights in a newly designed Roche Bobois Penthouse (for up to four guests), use of a dedicated Rolls-Royce with chauffeur, an eight-course tasting menu served in your suite, four premium seats at the New York show of your choice, four VIP tickets to the Empire State Building, two 60-minute in-room massages and an in-room Christmas tree under which you'll find an edible chocolate box with diamond-encrusted gifts inside, two cashmere blankets and a basket of made-in-New York items from Chelsea Market. And … wait for it … breakfast is included! langhamhotels.com
For powder hounds
Mike Wiegele Heli-Skiing, Blue River, B.C.: Discounts? Over the holidays? Yes, from Dec. 10 to Jan. 7, children under the age of 12 get to cat-ski, eat and stay for free when two accompanying adults book a "Family Holiday Package" at this pioneering heli operation that covers 4,550 square kilometres of snowy terrain in the Cariboo and Monashee mountain ranges. Three-day "deluxe" heli-ski packages start at $4,575 a person. wiegele.com
For regular hounds
Gansevoort hotels, New York: What do you get the canine that has everything? Through a new partnership with artisanal dog pâtisserie Lord Jameson, a "Pet Amenity Program" is now available at the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC and Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC. Upon check in, dog owners will receive a bed, a toy and food and water bowls for their pups, as well as a hotel-branded collar tag. Then, at turn-down, a Lord Jameson organic treat will be left on the pup's pillow, with an eight-ounce package of more goodies provided at checkout. The program costs $125 (U.S.) a pet. gansevoorthotelgroup.com
For thrill seekers
Skydive City, Zephyrhills, Fla.: This 26-year-old drop zone welcomes newcomers to the sport of throwing yourself out of an airplane with daily tandem dives that run right through the holidays and cost $199 (U.S.). There's also a "Skill in the Hillz" Christmas camp for more experienced free-fallers, as well as a "Christmas Boogie" festival featuring fireworks and nighttime formation jumps. skydivecity.com
MSC Divina: Setting sail out of Miami on Dec. 23 for eight days, the largest vessel in MSC Cruises' fleet will call at ports in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas. Along with all the traditional trimmings, the ship will feature a gingerbread village created by MSC's pastry chefs, a Broadway-style holiday show and festive cooking classes. From $999.50 (U.S.) a person. msccruises.com
For peace and quiet
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland: Outport holiday traditions meet modern flair in this internationally renowned 29-room property perched above the rocky shores of its namesake island. Joyful live music will be played, gingerbread houses will be assembled, berry-jewelled breakfast scones will be served, and all can be interspersed with invigorating shoreline walks and dips in outdoor hot tubs. Full-board double-occupancy rates start at $1,575 a night. fogoislandinn.ca