It’s the holiday season, and we’re facing a few extra challenges this year. Traditional holiday dinners have been put on hold in favor of smaller gatherings. To-dos with extended family are being replaced by virtual encounters, and trips to see relatives need to wait. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that travel can increase the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, and instead suggest staying home and limiting contact with others as much as possible.
Still, you may be thinking about escaping with (or without!) the kids for a getaway this winter. Short car trips and hotel stays with people from your own household are considered lower-risk activities, especially in parts of the country where there are fewer cases of the virus.
As tough as it is, we should all opt to leave the over-the-top celebrations and parties in the past, at least for now. But for those hoping to venture out to a hotel or resort for the first time in a while, it helps to know that many Colorado hotels are doing their utmost to keep patrons safe while still providing a positive and celebratory experience.
Escape to the Mountains
In Avon, Colorado, the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch on Beaver Creek Mountain is a well-known skiers’ getaway. The Ritz-Carlton follows Eagle County regional guidelines, adheres to social distancing recommendations, and administers the Marriot Cleanliness Council requirements on cleaning and safety standards — which involves air purifying systems and hospital-grade disinfectants in public spaces and guest rooms. The pet-friendly hotel also makes it easier to bring your new pandemic puppy along for the ride.
Of course, getting outside is one of the perks of staying at a place like Beaver Creek. At the base, the Fireside Bar mixes up après drinks by a toasty outdoor fire, and guests can take advantage of the year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tubs. The opportunity to encounter Bachelor and Scout, the resort’s official canine ambassadors, is a fun diversion for kids.
“Our winter and holiday experiences are truly magical,” says Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch General Manager Dan Dickhart. “From our festive holiday celebrations and decor, to ski weekends away with family and friends, the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch is the ultimate winter wonderland.”
From December 24-Jan 1, hotel guests can enjoy “9 Days of Wonder” featuring a winter carnival, crafts like snow globe and candle-making workshops, and even a visit with a wolf in partnership with Colorado Wolf Adventures.
Another Avon gem is The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, which now offers contactless check-in for all guests and also follows Marriott’s “commitment to clean” protocols and strict social distancing guidelines. This season, Westin Riverfront will launch the Riverfront Market, located just off the Westin’s Gondola Plaza. The market will sell a variety of gourmet grocery essentials and pre-packaged meals for dining in.
“The Vail Valley has been collaborating to create a memorable and thoughtful holiday experience that will offer endless opportunities for families to gather and enjoy our outdoor winter wonderland, including skiing, snowshoeing, roasting s’mores and après cocktails by the fire,” says Kristen Pryor, General Manager of The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa.
During the month of December at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, kids can search for the resort’s Elf on the Shelf, “Chippy,” who hides in a different spot each day. Finders earn a piece of wrapped candy from the front desk.
Unwind in an Urban Oasis
Denver locals and visitors can toast the season at Dairy Block, which has a variety of special plans for the holidays. Dairy Block is offering a safe place to take holiday photos outside in front of Santa and Frosty chalk murals, created by Colorado artist Kyle Bannister. Register in advance to attend the special AF Holiday Market at Dairy Block, a European holiday market representing local Colorado businesses and top national retailers, along with food and drink specials.
The adjacent Maven Hotel offers a safe solution for hosting visiting family. “This holiday season will be all about finding unique ways to celebrate safely together,” says Gerry Link, the general manager of the Maven Hotel, “from new outdoor experiences like visiting the Santa chalk mural in the Dairy Block Alley, to having friends and family stay at a hotel to give everyone a little more space.” The Maven’s Suite Life package includes a spacious suite complete with wet bar, sofa, and balcony views of the city — plus complimentary parking, early check-in, and late check-out.
For a bit of holiday cheer in Boulder, look no further than St Julien Hotel & Spa. Go for a decadent hot chocolate or mulled cider from the T-Zero Lounge cocktail bar, or order food from Jill’s Bistro. Both are open for outdoor dining (weather permitting) as well as to-go and room service. Plus, the property’s extensive wellness and safety program means guests can fully relax while away from home for the holidays.
“In a time of much uncertainty, we feel it’s all the more important to be a home away from home for the holidays,” says Bob Trotter, general manager of St Julien Hotel & Spa. “Our commitment to the health and safety of our employees and guests remains with many added protocols in place to ensure a comfortable visit.”
Book a holiday staycation at St Julien Hotel & Spa and receive a $50 credit to treat the family to a few hot chocolates, or opt for an adult spa treatment or round of cocktails.
Take a Day Trip
You don’t have to be flying out of DIA to make a stop at Gaylord Rockies Resort, where Christmas comes to life with twinkle lights galore, a towering tree in the Grand Lodge and special programming like ice skating, scavenger hunts, and gingerbread decorating for guests and day visitors alike. The hotel has integrated enhanced health and safety measures, including reducing capacities, enhanced cleaning protocols, hand sanitizers, signage, and trained staff to promote physical distancing.
New this year is “I Love Christmas Movies,” a multisensory immersive exhibit where guests can step into scenes from The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, Elf, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In Colorado Springs, Great Wolf Lodge’s annual Snowland celebration has begun. Through January 3, families can enjoy seasonal crafts, stories, and songs among twinkling garland and oversized snowflakes, along with events like a Menorah candle lighting during Hanukkah and socially distant Santa visits. This year, a mobile Cocoa Trolley will be rolling out specialty hot cocoa in souvenir mugs, with a portion of each sale going to the Make-A-Wish foundation. To keep guests safe, Great Wolf Lodge has enhanced its Paw Pledge program with enhanced cleaning protocols and mask mandates for guests ages 5 and over.