But deciding where to celebrate is not as simple as it is during other times of the year. Not surprisingly, fares and rates tend be higher around the holidays, which can dictate which destination you choose. But local customs (13 Santa Clauses of Iceland or roving masked musicians in the Caribbean?), unexpected seasonal closings, even flight availability—especially in the US, when you’re competing for seat space with whole families flying to grandma’s house—all factor into the equation.
In truth, the holiday traveler’s choices are endless. There’s a quintessential white Christmas in New England celebrated amid the cobblestone streets of historic Boston, where roasted lobster trumps Turkey on holiday menus. Further to the south, gracious living comes to life in the Victorian mansions of Charleston at holiday time, and eggnog is made with local bourbon. In Santa Cruz, California, Santa arrives by—what else—surf board.
On the other side of the pond in Munich, travelers and locals alike look forward to the traditional crafts and hot spiced wine in the Marienplatz Christmas market. New Zealand—where it’s summer in December—serves up nighttime fishing, sub-tropical beaches, and award-winning wines. And in Bali, with its sunsets over temple spires and miles of terraced rice paddies, expect holiday dishes laced with Kaffir lime juice.
OK, not everyone has visions of exotic locales dancing in their head. For many, a simple change of scenery will do the trick in conjuring the holiday spirit and supplying a dose of much-needed rejuvenation at the end of the year.
So, sit back and read Unique Travel Concepts dreamy destination options and find yourself a merry little Christmas.
Why Go: -Miles of terraced rice paddies
-Instead of carols, the haunting sound of the gamelan gong or wreaths of rice plants, herbs, and flowers
-Watching Christmas Eve sunset at the island temple of Tanah Lot.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan jazzes up the traditional meal—tangerine-glazed foie gras with dates, spiced rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes and Kaffir lime juice, and the soufflé of the day.
BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
Why Go: -Barbecues on subtropical beaches
-Summer in December
-A cooler of Stein lager beer instead of eggnog
-Deep-sea fishing at night
Unusual Holiday Dinner: Start with a cocktail at the Duke of Marlborough which holds the oldest pub license in New Zealand, then pop next door to Kamakura a serene seaside restaurant serving the day's catch.
Why Go: -Old-world ambiance
-New England coziness
-Beacon Hill's cobblestoned streets dusted with snow
-Roasted lobster in lieu of Christmas turkey
Unusual Holiday Dinner: The dining room at Locke-Ober, a blue-blooded institution since 1875, still feels like a gentleman's club. Lobster bisque, Dover sole, calf's liver, and baked Alaska and the food is actually delicious.
Why Go: -Pecans roasting on the fire instead of chestnuts
-Eggnog laced with the local bourbon
-Choirs singing spirituals at Drayton Hall plantation.
Holiday Dinner: At Peninsula Grill chef Robert Carter puts a radical spin on such low-country favorites as black-eyed pea, country ham and mushroom soup, and rack of New Zealand lamb with coconut-mint pesto.
Why Go: -Fireworks lighting up the sky from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse
-Bagpipers playing "Amazing Grace" around the Sir Walter Scott Monument.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: Sorceresses were burned at the stake beside the gates of Edinburgh Castle in the 16th century, but nothing is scorched at the Witchery by the Castle, which stands on the site. The restaurant serves traditional baked Scottish crotin and rabbit wrapped in Parma ham—all cooked to perfection.
Why Go: -A quiet celebration in the Canadian city that Harriet Beecher Stowe described as "a mountain of churches." -A spin in one of the many outdoor ice-skating centers
Pre-Holiday Dinner: The majority of restaurants in predominantly French-Catholic Montreal are closed December 24 and 25, so it's best to have a fabulous meal before Christmas day. The elegant Restaurant Globe, chef Alex Rolland's duck breast with Japanese eggplant and black cherry sauce is a perfect stand-in for goose.
Why Go: -Church bells ringing through the Alps
-Trading that tame cocoa for a steaming cup of gluhwein (hot spiced wine) at the Marienplatz market.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: Most restaurants in Munich are closed on Christmas and the night before, so it's a treat that the award-winning Restaurant Mark's is open for an elegant Christmas Eve meal. On the mezzanine floor of the Mandarin Oriental the dining room offers a traditional Christmas goose dinner complete with red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Why Go: -Snow, snow, snow. Schuss Utah's famously light powder and take a ski stroll down funky Main Street, the hub of this former mining colony
-One town, three resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley, and the Canyons.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: Chimayo adorned with wreaths and candle light, dishes up peppercorn-crusted London broil of elk, served with a potato-and-cheddar quesadilla, and asparagus with a spicy Béarnaise sauce.
Why Go: -"Jingle Bells" set to a salsa beat
-Instead of pine trees, palms and exotic flora in El Yunque rain forest or instead of hot chocolate or egg nog drink a coquito
-Evening strolls through a 500-year-old Spanish colonial city on the Atlantic.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: The 160-year-old La Mallorquina is known for its family-style cocina criolla, or traditional Puerto Rican feasts: seasonal favorites include lechón (suckling pig), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and pasteles (yucca and meat wrapped in a banana leaf).
SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA
Why Go: -Thousand-year-old redwoods
-Santa arriving by surfboard
-Still-crazy-after-all-these-years hippies co-existing peacefully with over-caffeinated young bucks.
Unusual Holiday Dinner: The bland façade of Casablanca may look quiet and unassuming, but inside, executive chef Scott Cater turns out some smart New American cuisine. His special Colorado rack of lamb with raspberry sauce and black truffles is to die for. The beach views aren't too shabby, either.
If you haven't yet planned your 2011 Christmas Destination Trip or if you are an early planner and want to start planning 2012 Christmas give us a call we don't charge anything to put a unique, and personalized Christmas to Remember.