Every country has holiday traditions that put a twinkle in the eye of the young and not-so-young. And Relais & Châteaux properties enjoy keeping these traditions alive, making festive moments more memorable and sharing the celebrations of their local cultures.
Lympstone Manor Hotel, Restaurant and Vineyard, Exmouth, United Kingdom
Gourmet holiday pleasure
At the Lympstone Manor Hotel, Restaurant and Vineyard, which makes its home in a seaside resort in Devon, United Kingdom, the end of the year promises to be delicious and delightful. The festive menus crafted by chef Michael Caines feature ingredients from the sea, the shore, and the salt marshes beyond. The nostalgic Christmas atmosphere reinvents itself for New Year’s Eve, when songs from a choir and mulled wine pair up with traditional British mince pies. Christmas carols can be heard day and night, along with live music from the band Swing Kings as they add their energy to the events, along with a midnight mass, festive eight-course menus, strolls in the vineyard, and guided hikes along the coastline and on the moor. To ring in the New Year in style, fireworks are set off over the vineyard and the sea.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee, United States
Festivities on the farm
Deep in the Smoky Mountains, on 4,200 acres of wilderness, Blackberry Farm, is a working farmstead that combines hospitality with agriculture. It is the perfect place for a year-end getaway, with a holiday ambiance created by the festive lighting of the surrounding trees, the Holiday Baking Tradition of cookies and gingerbread house decorating. Then, guests can enjoy their time at the property with different activities proposed all year long, such as wine tastings or archery sessions. A merry, wholesome Christmas on the Farm, just the way it’s supposed to be.
Les Prés d’Eugénie - Maison Guérard, Eugénie-les-Bains, France
A Jules Verne holiday
This property devoted to eating well, living well, and being well invites its guests to enter the world of poet-writer Jules Verne for the winter celebrations in December. Festivities for adults include holiday workshops, cooking classes featuring truffles, scallops or foie gras, and blind tastings of champagne and other sparkling wines. At the kids’ club, the holidays are in full swing: a Christmas treasure hunt, crafting holiday wreaths, themed snacks, tours of the grounds, and a pool party at the spa. As for dining, there will be ‘Extraordinary Feasts’: On December 24, dinner takes place ‘in the air’ at La Ferme aux Grives, beneath the enchanting vault of Jules Verne’s legendary balloon. A heavenly and exotic culinary expedition from the Indian Ocean to the Nile. On the 25, lunch is a journey ‘to the center of the earth’ followed by a deep-sea-inspired “Grand New Year’s Eve of the Seven Seas” on December 31. Lastly, on New Year’s Day, “Ice Adventures” will be waiting by the fireside. Santa’s sack is overflowing!
Mihir Garh, Jodhpur, India
Mihir Garh, in the middle of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, is a contemporary fort, a structure designed by Sidhart and Rashmi Singh using the principles and materials of local village architecture. Illuminated entirely by candlelight for the holiday celebrations, it is the perfect setting for such a special period. Guests are enchanted by Rajasthani dancers and musicians who share their country’s dazzling culture and traditions. Hearts are full and excitement is rife before the fort lit only by candles throughout the holiday season. Taste buds are tantalized when sampling pastry specialties and, on December 31 at midnight, bottles of champagne are sabered, then savored, as tradition would have it.
Hotel Bareiss, Baiersbronn-Mitteltal, Germany
Together, the village and hotel on the edge of the Black Forest Natural Park form a magical setting. The staff’s uniforms help weave the spell, as well, having been designed by a fairy-tale illustrator. In fact, everything here contributes to a very special atmosphere, between the Advent concert in the church in Mitteltal, the Christmas market perfumed with the dizzying, spicy scent of mulled wine, and December 25 itself, the moment children have long awaited, wide-eyed before the crèche in the hotel. The highlight, though, is surely the torchlit walk before or after the carriage ride along the romantic paths of the Black Forest.
Château de Drudas, Drudas, France
Between Toulouse and Montauban in Occitania, this 18th-century residence, a listed historic monument, has become home to entertaining workshops, to the delight of guests. Little ones have fun making garlands, Christmas balls, and tiny characters for the tree. The older ones and teens gather around the pastry chef in the kitchen to bake and decorate Christmas cookies. And adults are given the chance to discover mixology and oenology, unlock the secrets of pairing wines and holiday dishes, and sample a few wines. The art of learning while having fun and interacting with others. Isn’t that one of the most wonderful lessons of Christmas?
In Lain Hotel Cadonau, Brail, Switzerland
A warm mountain welcome
At this handsome Swiss property, the Cadonau family – a brood of proprietors, hoteliers, cooks, and carpenters – care deeply about preserving the lake that reflects the inn’s minimalist architecture and the mountain landscape that serves as its backdrop. Every undertaking here is done with warmth and kindness. On December 24, in keeping with this hospitable spirit, and to kick off the end-of-year festivities, the Cadonaus like to invite guests to settle around a large wood fire on the edge of the larch forest. By the light of the flickering flames, a guest reads aloud the festive tale of their choice. Parents enjoy mulled wine and cookies, while children sip cups of cocoa.
Manoir Hovey, North Hatley, Canada
Tucked between shimmering lake waters and a fragrant forest, this century-old mansion near Montreal celebrates Canadian lifestyle, with epicurean excellence given pride of place. Locavore dishes, a superb wine list, and a cozy atmosphere beckon you to sit in front of the fireplaces to keep watch for Santa Claus. The beautiful outdoor winter garden and the lake form the perfect setting for learning about ice fishing and ice skating. Inside, there are board games in the library for friendly fun, with holiday carols in the background. Everything you need to make beautiful memories with those you love.
Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel, St George's, Grenada
Music by the sea
In the shelter of the palms of L’Anse aux Epines, in south Grenada, villas scattered across the grounds along the beach form an epicurean sanctuary overlooking the Caribbean and the Atlantic. This idyllic setting boasts three restaurants: the Beach Club, on the soft sand, Izakaya, with a Japanese and Latin inspired menu, and Rhodes, the gourmet restaurant proudly featuring ingredients from the island, starring fresh fish and lobster for holiday meals. It is a fantastic setting for festivities in the sun, with a Christmas Eve choir on December 24th, and fireworks to celebrate the new year. On the beach, guests can sip fruit cocktails as they watch for the arrival of a boat carrying Saint Nick himself, to greet him with all the holiday fanfare he deserves.
A Quinta da Auga Hotel & Spa, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
In the city of Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the A Quinta da Auga Hotel & Spa, a former 18th-century paper mill, has retained the essence of its original character. For the year-end celebrations, the property has planned experiences with a Galician touch: themed parties, gastronomic markets and decoration workshops to make accessories with which to give a Christmas touch to your home. As a highlight, you can celebrate the turn of the year with music at a New Year’s Eve concert. Foodies take note: brunch on December 25 and January 1 features the famed and delicious Galician seafood, among other tasty typical dishes of the region.