Santa on a Jet Ski? These Hotels Make Holiday Travel Fun
This season, stay at some of our favorite properties in Italy and the Caribbean.
Ready to take your holidays up a notch? Traveling during this time of year is a truly fulfilling experience, giving families, couples, and friends the chance to learn firsthand how other cultures celebrate the season.
We love the experience Belmond provides during the holidays, particularly at its properties in Italy and the Caribbean. There’s so much to see and do—from listening to steel pans in Anguilla to making traditional pastries in Sicily to watching Santa arrive on a jet ski in St. Martin (Not to mention the other hallmarks of a great vacation: lounging by the pool, enjoying Michelin-starred dining, going on outdoor adventures.)
Here, let us introduce you to five of our favorite spots:
Cap Juluca, a Belmond hotel, Anguilla
Let the stunning setting of this 108-room hotel, with its white Greco-Moorish buildings on an exclusive turquoise beach on Maundays Bay in Anguilla draw you in. And then, be blown away by the holiday line-up, with offerings from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving festivities start on the Tuesday before the big day, with rum tastings, spa specials, a family volleyball competition and more, with the highlight being a three-hour Thanksgiving feast.
The December celebrations begin on Dec. 21, kicking off two weeks of fun. What we love about these festivities is how much they incorporate Anguillan culture and holiday traditions: On Christmas Eve, hear steel pans and carols sung by the Children’s Choir, enjoy the daily Anguillan Grill BBQ at the beachside Cap Shack restaurant, and listen to the live Steel Band show as a “warm-up” to the New Year’s Eve party. Add to this a long list of offerings for every type of traveler—from champagne sunset cruises to an IronMan swim to daily kid-specific activities in the Explorers Club—and you have the makings of a truly captivating vacation.
La Samanna, a Belmond hotel, St. Martin
This St. Martin resort, on a private stretch of Baie Longue beach, is the perfect stopping point for rest and relaxation this holiday. The 83 rooms and suites set the tone right from the start, with private terraces and ocean views. Similar to Cap Juluca, the festivities begin with Thanksgiving, with a Veuve Clicquot Champagne paired dinner and tastings and then start again from Dec. 21 through January 3rd.
Here, a seasonal reset is easy thanks to the specials like hot stone massage and shiatsu at the candlelit spa, wellness activities like morning yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, and pilates, and the chance for downtime at one of the resort’s two pools. On Christmas Day, watch Santa on a jet ski to shore—a hotel tradition that we can definitely see becoming a family one. There are fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve (a party, too!), and throughout, you’ll find fun dining experiences, like Lime & Dine, an outdoor Caribbean extravaganza with Creole music, rum punch, and more. Also cool? Additional experiences abound, like a pre-dawn boat ride to the uninhabited island of Tintamarre.
Villa San Michele, a Belmond hotel, Florence, Italy
Florence is spectacular any time of year, but now is your chance to experience the holidays in this historical Tuscan city from the comfort of the 45-room Villa San Michele. This year marks the first time the hotel has been open for the festive season and what’s planned is sure to impress: From Dec. 5 through 12, stock up on gifts at the “Art of Making” Christmas market featuring local and sustainable pieces, while on Dec. 7 enjoy Afternoon Tea with Dante, complete with poetry readings, in homage to the 700th (!!) anniversary of the writer’s death. There’s a Christmas lunch at the hotel’s Ristorante San Michele, along with a New Year’s Eve party and New Year’s Day toast to ring in 2022.
And that’s just what’s happening in honor of the holidays. The hotel, which is housed in a former medieval monastery, offers lots more, including classes in pasta, pizza, and dessert-making at their cooking school, private dining experiences, like the one in their wine cellar, and museum visits—along with the entire city at your fingertips.
Splendido Mare, a Belmond hotel, Portofino, Italy
While the seaside village of Portofino, in the Liguria region of Italy, is most popular in the summer, it holds a special magic during the holidays. And just like with Villa San Michele, this is the first time you can experience the 14-room Splendido Mare hotel—housed in a completely redesigned ancient guesthouse for fishermen and weary travelers—this time of year.
And there’s so much to experience: Walk through the light- and tree-lined village, head out onto the water, since the weather is still temperate, or enjoy the outdoors at Portofino Natural Park. At the hotel, take part in authentic Italian holiday rituals, such as the Cena della Vigilia, the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, held on the Piazzetta. Ring in the new year in style, with a dinner and party on New Year’s Eve—and recover at brunch on New Year’s Day. There’s also time to see the rest of what the hotel has to offer, including private speedboat cruises to discover coastal gems and foodie experiences, such as dazzling food and wine tastings at La Portofinese, eco-farm.
Grand Hotel Timeo ,a Belmond hotel, Taormina, Italy
Immerse yourself in the unforgettable sights and sounds of the holiday season in Sicily, at Grand Hotel Timeo, in the pretty town of Taormina. With amazing views of Mount Etna and Naxos Bay and a moderate climate, even in December, you can enjoy outdoor activities both in town and at the historic 71-room property. For instance, an outdoor brunch is held on Saturdays on the terrace of the hotel’s Ristorante Timeo.
There are plenty of holiday-specific happenings as well, including a tree trimming with Sicilian ceramics and pastry classes on Sundays. (Example: Make a traditional Sicilian cassata) On Christmas Eve, gifts will be given out for kids, with brunch on Christmas Day. End the year on a sweet note, with a dinner, party and fireworks show—with Mount Etna in the background!—on NYE, followed by brunch on Jan 1. Other musts? Walk through the town to admire the holiday decorations and nativity scenes, set in the picturesque churches and chapels of the historic centre, relax with a citrus-themed treatment at the spa, and be sure to have dinner at Otto Geleng, the intimate (just 16 seats) Michelin-star restaurant, headed by Executive Chef Roberto Toro.
While we love a stay at a Belmond property at any time of year, the expansive programs and itineraries they put together for the holidays provide the best of both worlds: The chance to relax and unwind in gorgeous hotels, while also celebrating all that local culture has to offer.
Decided on the perfect property to spend the holidays? (We’re happy to offer our take, too!) When you book a Belmond hotel with F1S, you’ll receive a variety of amenities, including daily breakfast for two, upgrade if available and up to a $500 gift voucher. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (888)-398-6555.