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Michele Sponagle

Senior editor

Smitten by hotels ever since she was a kid, hoarding toiletries started early and picked up steam as Michele Sponagle began a career as a freelance journalist. Her globetrotting has taken her to properties in more than 50 countries, from rustic B&Bs to sprawling resorts.

Travelers might be pining if they’re away from home at Christmas. Not to fear. A number of North American hotels get into the holiday spirit in a big, big way. To that we say, let’s jingle all the way to the front desk and check in.

Photo credit: Janice Tober

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Arizona

What’s better than lighting up the joint with Christmas lights? How about more Christmas lights numbering more than 4.5 million? Plus, there’s entertainment galore, like a five-minute high definition video show projected onto the façade of the building, near the resort’s Christmas tree, twinkling brightly with 70,000 LED lights. Rent a pair of skates and slide around the 6,000-square-foot rink—quite the sight in a desert setting. Get a photo of yourself, your family or even your pet with Santa. Or book the special Santa Suite, which comes adorned with a full-size Christmas tree, stockings by the chimney, a turntable and holiday tunes, plus sweet treats from St. Nick.

Photo credit: Gaylord Palms Resort

Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee, Florida

Each year, this luxe resort puts on ICE!, an immersive ice sculpture experience coveted by locals and guests. This year, you can cool off from the balmy, Floridian weather and step into a chilly version of the classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story. In order to create sub-zero temperatures, the resort stockpiles more than two million pounds of ice. If you left your coat behind, don’t worry. The resort will provide one so you can stay comfortable taking in all of the stunning sculptures.

Photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton Toronto

The Ritz-Carlton Toronto, Ontario

The pastry team at the Ritz shows off their talents with the city’s biggest and most elaborate gingerbread creations. Though you can’t just snap off a chunk, you can book a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea, have a special kicked-up traditional dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at TOCA, or wait to sit on Santa’s knee when he comes to visit. Looking for the perfect gift for you? Book some pampering at the Spa My Blend by Clarins. You’ve been more nice than naughty this year so you deserve it.

Photo credit: Fairmont Banff Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta

Even if you’re in a Grinch-like mood, you can’t help but be moved by the magical backdrop of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. Being in one of the most gorgeous resorts in the country will help banish the bah-humbugs, too. There are guided wilderness walks, hotel heritage tours, crafting workshops, bedtime stories for children, a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt, skating, and more. Got an unwrapped present? The property has a gift-wrapping service on Christmas Eve for hotel guests. And you can always opt for a room package that comes with a decorated Christmas tree.

Photo credit: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pennsylvania

If you’ve got little ones in tow, they’ll lose their little minds at all the Christmas action at this sprawling resort packed with amenities. They can take a gingerbread decorating workshop, make holiday greeting cards, craft snowflakes, have bedtime stories read to them by Santa’s elves, compete in the ugly Christmas sweater competition, watch ice carving demos, eat s’mores by the bonfires and watch holiday classic films. Until the end of December, its Stocking Stuffer package includes breakfast, luxurious accommodations and a keepsake ornament for your tree. If it’s a white Christmas, the family can hit the slopes for snow tubing, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

(Featured photo credit: Gaylord Palms Resort)

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