Danielle Braff | Chicago Tribune
Maybe you love the concept of a cozy winter wonderland – the snow, the hot chocolate, the fireplace, the fluffy blankets – but you’re not so enthusiastic about walking in actual snow and prepare yourself for freezing temperatures to get to the good stuff. . You’re more of an après-ski person than a skier. There is no shame in that.
We’ve got some suggestions for places to try this winter if you want all that cozy comfort without the cold.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona
Ice skating is always more fun when your toes aren’t numb from the cold. Experience it at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, where 6 million twinkling lights pave the way for their own version of a winter wonderland: a 6,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink in Arizona with real ice (it’s a true Christmas miracle), a Ferris wheel, fire pits, s’mores, igloos and even an ice cream parlor. Yes, the ice cream parlor is actually cold, but they offer you faux fur parkas, piping hot craft cocktails, and the chance to take the perfect vacation selfie before heading back to the warmth.
Grand Wolf Lodge in Gurnee
When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to celebrate the season at Great Wolf Lodge, a chain of indoor water parks. For those who want to stay local, we love arriving in Gurnee wearing nothing but our swimsuits and rushing into the lobby, where real snow gives way to fake snowflakes, a gigantic fireplace, and Spiked Sleigh Ride Sippers ( vodka, pineapple juice). , orange juice, watermelon puree and club soda). They bring the outdoors in with daily snow showers and a visit from Santa. Because hotel rooms, restaurants, dry activities (everything from arcades to an immersive Harry Potter-type game) are indoors, there’s no reason to put on a coat until the time to leave.
Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho
Of course, you can visit this golf resort in summer, during the peak season. But we’d give it up to see more than a million lights illuminating Idaho’s Coeur d’Arlene Lake. Dine al fresco in heated igloos; take a festive lake cruise to visit Santa and his elves; and see Travolta’s Indoor Christmas Show, hosted by Ellen Travolta, John’s older sister.
Twin Farms in Vermont
If you want to feel like royalty for a few days, this is the place. In the 18th-century farmhouse once owned by Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis, you’ll find a variety of accommodations that are all perfect for adults. There are cottages, a lodge and the aforementioned farm which come with food and drinks in the dining room or ordered straight to bed by dialing 125 (also dial this number if you need someone to feed your fireplace, to add more blankets to your bed or to prepare a bath). Leave your room just to take a pasta-making class (and eat it, obviously) or to bathe in the 104-degree water inside the cedar bathhouse in the woods.
The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana
Sink into luxurious, high-end duvets in a rustic 19th-century barn in Philipsburg, Montana. It’s all about the massive bathtub, layered textures, blanket-topped king-size bed, and upholstered furniture. Or stay in a private house or chalet, or inside the lodge, complete with a spa, fireplaces and jacuzzi. They offer an all-exclusive experience here, so you never need to leave the ranch for food, entertainment, or anything else you might want during your stay. Stay warm in an outdoor hot tub or the spa’s cedar sauna. Even if you skip the horseback excursion, you can book a soak for saddle sores at the spa, where you’ll be surrounded by candles as you soak up minerals from Montana’s geothermal springs.
French Quarter Inn in South Carolina
This year, spend the winter like a southern socialite in Charleston at the French Quarter Inn. In South Carolina, where the average temperature in December is 61°C, relax in the Sleigh Bell Suite, where you’ll find plenty of mistletoe, wreaths, freshly baked cookies, and bourbon-spiced eggnog. Oh, and a fireplace. Enter the lobby, which features a 15-foot tree and free gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate. And while you’re in Charleston, watch their traditional Holiday Boat Parade, visit Charleston Vacation Homes, and take a sleigh ride through downtown, sans hats and scarves.
Mohonk Mountain House in New York
Legend has it that Stephen King’s “The Shining” was inspired by his many stays at this resort, but Mohonk denies credit for this esteemed attribution. But imagine an imposing Victorian castle rising from the snow in the Hudson Valley, nestled in the forest. If that sounds more cozy than terrifying, book this resort to experience the pinnacle of secluded perfection. Three gourmet meals are included with your stay; the indoor pool has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the snow-covered forest and frozen lake; and the whole house feels like a warm cup of tea during the winter months. There is a gingerbread competition, lots of Christmas trees, lots of fireplaces, afternoon teas, ‘Nutcracker’ shows in the lobby and much more.
Stein Eriksen Lodge in Utah
Maybe your family is torn: some want skiing while others want skiing and nothing else. This is where you need to go. While the World Ski Awards voted the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City the best ski hotel in the United States in 2023, we like to come here without ski tickets. All rooms are equipped with plush bathrobes, slippers, a hot tub and a fireplace. There are three restaurants on-site, a fantastic spa and a lounge that serves cheese fondue and mulled wine.
Lake Placid Lodge in New York
Head to the Adirondacks and enter your cabin (or suite or guest room). The theme of the lodge is rustic chic and there are stone fireplaces, wooden beds and views of the frozen lake. It’s all about hunkering down: meals are just steps from your room (no need to bring a coat); there’s a wood-panelled pub with local ales and pool tables; and you can stroll through the Olympic Center and the lodge museum. The region hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.
Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
They put us up in “hot springs,” but there’s so much more to this ghost town in the Colorado Rockies. Located in an old mining town in southwest Colorado across from Telluride, guests stay in authentic, restored, hand-built log cabins. Our favorite is the Well House Cabin because it has a private hot spring and cold plunge pool – and it’s pet friendly! But other cabins have a wood-burning fireplace and include all meals and drinks. Vacation at the restored 19th-century Dunton Hot Springs, which ranges in temperature from 85 to 106 degrees. Go outside to sit by the fire and play board games, drink hot chocolate, and take a long nap.
Danielle Braff is independent.
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