Christmas and New Year often conjure up images of stockings hanging next to the gently falling snow near the decorated tree outside the window and the fire crackling in the fireplace. When guests travel on vacation, hotels try to recreate that comfortable feeling of home.
But outside of northern latitudes and western longitudes, hotels closer to and south of the equator celebrate the holidays at temperatures Frosty the Snowman can turn down the air conditioning.
Hoteliers in these regions must bring the Yuletide spirit to cater to their domestic and foreign guests, who may celebrate the holiday differently.
Guests from cooler climates are often „dreaming of a white and warm Christmas,” Amila Maldives general manager Narel McDougall said by email. They often want to get away from the cold weather they’re used to and have new experiences – but they also want to hold on to some of the familiar.
„We find that families with young children especially want to keep some of the old traditions, like meeting Santa,” she said.
Marriott Resort Los Sueños in Costa Rica has returned customers who have made the resort a vacation tradition, general manager Maria Florencia Arenaza said by email.
The hotel offers both the familiar — for some, roast turkey with cranberry sauce for Christmas lunch — and the memorable.
Activities include a fiesta on Christmas Eve, during which guests can hit a piñata, and a night of dancing on the beach for a New Year’s Eve party.
„Guests enjoy adopting new customs such as saying 12 wishes at midnight on New Year’s Eve – a very traditional grapevine in Costa Rica and a new tradition they can incorporate into future New Year’s celebrations at home.” she said.
Staff at the Novotel Sydney Darling Square decorated the Christmas tree in gold and yellow to represent the colors of the Australian summer, hotel general manager Nicky Little said via email.
„We believe this tree symbolizes bringing the community and guests together,” he said.
Novotel Sydney Darling Square’s Pumphouse restaurant has an al fresco area with natural wood, which ties in with the living plant theme throughout the space, he said. The group also decorates the dining area with lots of colors.
Staff at the Sheraton Miramar Hotel & Convention Center in Valparaiso, Chile, meticulously decorates the property, said general manager Patricio Carvalho. There is a Christmas tree in the central lobby, and the festive atmosphere spreads throughout different parts of the hotel.
„Our unique climate allows Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to last until late, especially as our younger guests eagerly search the skies for Santa Claus and his sleigh on Christmas night,” he said.
On New Year’s Eve, guests can watch a fireworks show from the hotel terrace, Carvallo said. Afterwards, they’ll be treated to dinner and listen to a live band ring in the New Year.
Each year Amilla Maldives has a different theme because guests who come for Christmas want to see something different, McDougall said.
This year’s theme was inspired by vibrant feathers, flavors and the vibrancy of the festival, he said. Most decorations include feathers.
The resort’s programming draws from Christmas classics like the tree-lighting ceremony and visits from Santa Claus and his helpers, he said. Much of this is derived from Brazilian carnival culture, so there are dance classes focusing on Brazilian funk, samba and lambada, as well as the martial art of capoeira.
On New Year’s Eve, the resort hosts a Rio Carnival party with fire performers, stilt walkers and salsa dancers.
The Marriott Resort Los Sueños sits on Costa Rica’s Green Coast, surrounded by lush greenery with azure waters, Arenaza said.
She said the property’s decor incorporates those influences to create a tropical, festive feel. The resort utilizes the rich biodiversity of the area by including preserved flowers and foliage such as eucalyptus, cypress, hydrangeas, palm fronds and ligulas leaves.
The resort adds twinkling lights and uses light in the trees to complement the night sky, he said.
It uses colors traditionally associated with the holidays, such as red, green and gold, but it adds a local twist by creating a Christmas tree using local ligulas leaves recycled from the property’s grounds.
„It is very important to us that when our guests visit, they recognize that they are in Costa Rica and can enjoy the diversity that the country has to offer, including the warm weather and tropical landscape,” he said.
Santa visits in tropical attire, and children have seen him arrive with a surfboard, she said. Instead of hot cocoa, guests roast giant marshmallows in a fire pit. The menu includes traditional turkey and ham dishes as well as local dishes like tamales and gallo pinto.
McDougal said this year’s Acid Maldives celebrations draw inspiration from island culture. The 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 22 with a traditional Maldivian feast at the resort’s restaurant, Bazaar. The resort also invited island musicians who play traditional Maldivian drums called bodu peru, usually played during special occasions, celebrations and festivals.
Local artisans working on Maldivian lacquer called Lajehun, They will present their handicrafts at the party, he said.
The Indian Ocean also plays a role.
„Guests can swap carols for coral reefs and traditional Christmas lights for ocean magic as on Christmas Day, we offer an evening of UV snorkeling at Amila’s House Reef,” he said.
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