There's no place like home for the holidays-unless you can treat yourself to a hotel instead. The most festive hotels deck not only the halls, but just about anything else that gets in their way, with showstopping decorations, towering Christmas trees, and need-your-shades light spectacles sure to make your spirits bright.
Indeed, it can be a wonderful time to travel, whether you want to experience how another part of the country celebrates Christmas or just steer clear of the demands of decorating and cooking back home.
At Florida's Boca Raton Resort, you can enjoy a beach bonfire with s'mores after ice-skating at the resort's new rink, browsing a pop-up holiday market, and admiring its 40-foot tree flanked by palms.
Coeur d'Alene Resort in Idaho, meanwhile, turns into a watery wonderland, with a 1.5-million light show and cruise boats that transport you across the lake to Santa's workshop. And snowfall turns up in the most unexpected of places, like the Sonoran desert, thanks to hotels that go above and beyond to wow guests each Christmas.
It's enough to tickle that jolly red-suited fellow pink-and sure beats slurping eggnog at home on the couch.
Courtesy of Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts
Liberty Hotel, Boston
Six decked-out Christmas trees hang upside-down from the ceiling of the Liberty's 90-foot rotunda. The attention-grabbing installation required workers to dangle from safety harnesses as they affixed the trees to the ceiling's lofty rafters. It's an inspired new spin on holiday décor-and appropriate for a building that did a 180 of its own by transforming from a jail into a luxury hotel.
Courtesy of MGM Resorts International
Bellagio Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Las Vegas knows how to put on a show, and no hotel does Christmas better than the Bellagio. Its famous fountains dance to special holiday tunes, and festive decorations take over the Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Just consider these by-the-numbers highlights: Vegas's largest indoor tree (a 42-footer); an 8-foot-tall reindeer coated in chocolate; a life-size candy house and snow globe; 34,000 fresh poinsettias; and a family of topiary polar bears made from 24,000 white carnations.
Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene Resort
Coeur d'Alene Resort, ID
For more than a quarter of a century, this lakefront resort has transformed into a watery winter wonderland. This year, holiday guests can expect a 1.5-million-light show-the largest in the country-accompanied by a 160-foot-tall living Christmas tree, a 3,000-pound wreath, and more than 400 animated holiday figures. Be sure to board a cruise boat for the ride to the "North Pole," where Santa's workshop awaits.
An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people disappeared from radar as it traveled from Burkina Faso to the Algerian capital, The Associated Press reported, as storms pushed south of the area of lost contact.Read Story >
A thick, massive band of mayflies traveling along the Mississippi River created a swarm so intense it became visible on National Weather Service radars on July 20, 2014.Read Story >