by Reisha Zang
It’s a four-day weekend. Who says you have to spend it prepping, cooking, baking and cleaning? This year for Thanksgiving, start a new tradition and head out of town. Here are five great destinations that will let you enjoy the holiday and give thanks for a well-deserved break.
There is no denying that this weekend marks the beginning of a very hectic time of year. Heading to a spa with an ocean on one side and a Mayan jungle on the other may be just what you need to start the holiday season off right. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya is located five minutes from Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Not only has the resort earned AAA Five Diamond status, it has also received the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award for its restaurant Cocina de Autor, the only restaurant of an all-inclusive property to receive the award in 100 years of AAA. “It’s with great pleasure we receive these awards, as there are few hotels and restaurants in the world who enjoy this honor. We have made a commitment to ensure we will deliver the quality and service which made these awards possible for many, many years to come,” says Fernando Garcia Rossette, managing director. Its spa was also crowned “Best Spa in the World” by Virtuoso. In addition to relaxing on the beach and indulging in world-class spa treatments, explore the legendary ruins of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum and Coba, do some shopping in Playa del Carmen and play a round of golf.
For some, November 27 is the day to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest. For others, it is a day to give thanks for snow. In Jackson Hole, it marks the opening of the mountain and the day avid winter sports enthusiasts hit the slopes. Four Seasons Jackson Hole is the perfect base camp for skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding and snow shoeing. Snow mobile tours and heli-skiing adventures are available as well as winter wildlife safaris. Choose from a traditional guest room or suite, or book one of the residences with a living room, family room, full kitchen and up to five bedrooms. Arrive on Wednesday and hit the slopes. After enjoying the clean, fresh air, head to the lodge and celebrate with a feast worthy of the workout. Sample local cured meats like buffalo sausage, elk salami and venison, farmstead cheese and duck confit. Choose from herb roasted free range turkey with giblet gravy, citrus crusted prime rib with horseradish cream or sweet ginger glazed salmon, and finish with pumpkin or pecan pie. A Thanksgiving meal with a twist and a weekend of great skiing makes for a memorable holiday.
Seabourn, the ultra-luxury cruise line, was honored with 22 top travel awards last year. Post-hurricane, we selected a seven-day journey to the Caribbean. The voyage begins in St. Maarten and takes you to Prickly Pear Island, Anguilla, Martinique, Bonaire and Aruba aboard the Seabourn Legend. This elegant ship only has room for 208 guests with an equal number of crew members to cater to your every whim. All of the guestrooms are spacious suites with amazing ocean views. Be sure to take advantage of the unique shore excursions. In St. Maarten, participate in a modified America’s Cup race in an actual multimillion-dollar America’s Cup boat. Jump on a Catamaran and do a little snorkeling off the coast of Prickly Pear Island, swim with the dolphins in Anguilla and zip line in the tree tops of the Antiguan rain forest. When the holiday rolls around, you will be thankful that you are on the “Best Culinary Cruise Line,” as ranked by both Saveur and Town & Country Magazines. “These awards are a great honor,” says Seabourn President Richard D. Meadows. “The expert panel measure our cuisine against the best in the world. Their acknowledgment of the talent and passion that goes into our dining operations is tremendously gratifying for our culinary executives and onboard staff.”
It is surprising how easy it is to get to Lake Tahoe from Phoenix. The flying time is just under two hours, and there are several flights a day, making the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe an easy four-day getaway. The hotel is situated mid-mountain at Northstar California ski resort and features ski-in, ski-out access with ski valet services slopeside. The valet assists each guest with their boots, escorts them to the ski-in, ski-out lifts, and when they return from skiing, retrieves their equipment and stores it overnight. It doesn’t get any better than that. The hotel recently added residential suites with accommodations for up to eight guests – perfect for inviting the whole family to go skiing for the holidays. “As the only AAA Five Diamond ski-in/ski-out mountain resort in California, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is the ideal place to gather with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday,” says Robin Penning, spokesperson. “Slopeside resort dining makes the location a perfect destination for guests interested in hitting the slopes during their holiday getaway.” As far as Thanksgiving dinner goes, chef de cuisine Jeremy Grossman has created a traditional meal with a few surprises. The menu includes holiday favorites such as hand‐carved roasted turkey with all the trimmings, honey glazed ham and fall‐inspired dishes such as chilled seafood, cornbread stuffing and an assortment of local baby greens, charcuterie, handmade pastas and seasonally inspired desserts.
The Grand Del Mar may be one of San Diego’s best kept secrets. “The Mediterranean-style architecture and design of The Grand Del Mar coupled with the gracious hospitality by the staff makes one feel that you are staying at a family estate – providing the perfect backdrop for a magical, Southern California Thanksgiving,” says Tom Voss, president of The Grand Del Mar. Situated in a private reserve in Coastal North County San Diego, this resort has been earning top honors for its service, amenities, dining options and value. Last year, Travel + Leisure readers named it the number one resort in California and number four in the continental U.S. “Since opening over seven years ago, we have received national and international accolades. This latest recognition is another testament to the hard work and dedication of our talented staff who work hard every day to ensure the stellar quality of our services, amenities and facilities,” says Voss. For Thanksgiving, enjoy a round of golf on the resorts Tom Fazio designed course, voted “Golf Course Architect of the Year” three years in a row by Golf Course News, followed by dinner at one of the resort’s three restaurants. The Addison will feature a Seven-Course Tasting Menu, Amaya will offer a special all day Three Course Dinner and Bijou French Bistro will highlight traditional holiday dishes.