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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

All the trimmings, none of the work: Thanksgiving in a hotel

At the Nemacolin, holiday visitors will find ice-skating, golf, horseback rides, a Thanksgiving feast featuring sugar-and-spice-cured turkey, and the new 56-suite Grand Lodge.

By Stephanie Rosenbloom

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and while many Americans will be staying at home or with family and friends, others will be checking into hotels where guests can participate in turkey trots and try Thanksgiving-themed spa treatments — all while letting someone else worry about cooking.

Here are five options from coast to coast, including a renovated national historic landmark by the Pacific Ocean, a re-imagined hot springs getaway in Virginia, a redesigned luxury hotel amid Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and a New York City mainstay with views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Wherever you go, book soon because hotels are likely to fill up long before you get a craving for pumpkin pie.

The Omni Homestead Resort (Hot Springs, Virginia)

This storied resort in the Allegheny Mountains — which has been visited by 23 U.S. presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Martin Van Buren — announced in late October the completion of a more than $150 million property-wide renovation. Its 483 rooms and suites are on more than 2,300 acres with a spa, two golf courses and plenty to do outdoors, including horseback riding, archery, ax throwing, hiking, mountain biking and falconry lessons. Another major draw is the Warm Springs Pools (about 5 miles from the Omni Homestead Resort, which runs them), where you can go for a soak in the newly rehabilitated bathhouses, which also have a long history — the stone basin in the Gentlemen’s Bathhouse, for instance, dates to 1761, according to the resort.

While a lot has changed, certain traditions remain, including the annual tree-lighting ceremony, which will feature live music by the Colonial Singers of Williamsburg the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Burn a few calories on Thanksgiving morning with a turkey trot, an approximately 3-mile run with prizes for the fastest man, woman and child. If running isn’t your speed, consider the “turkey waddle,” a mile-and-a-half group walk on Friday morning. Of course, there will also be a Thanksgiving feast, with entrees such as roasted turkey and glazed ham as well as sides like cornbread stuffing, green beans and whipped potatoes. Save room for dessert, including cookies and pumpkin and pecan pies ($86 for adults; $43 ages 15 and younger). Prices from $388 a night; from $516 on Thanksgiving night (rates include the resort fee).

Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, California)

Established in 1888 as a seaside getaway, this hotel was the setting for “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe, and was designated a national historic landmark in 1977. For the last several years it has been renovating and expanding, re-imagining spaces, including its restaurants, fitness center, spa and rooms (accommodation types include rooms, suites, cottages and villas) as part of a more than $550 million investment plan. Most of the hotel’s renovations have now been completed.

A Thanksgiving buffet will have something for everyone, including a carving station, vegan curry station, and sushi and sashimi station. If you’re 21 or older, you’ll receive a glass of Champagne, too ($195 a person for ages 11 and up; $100 for children 4 to 10; free for children 3 and younger with a paid adult).

The property, part of Curio Collection by Hilton, has 901 rooms across five different areas or neighborhoods, as the hotel calls them: the Cabanas, the Views, Beach Village, the Victorian (renovations are scheduled to begin in January), and the new Shore House at the Del, 75 one-to-three-bedroom villas where prices start at $950 a night for a villa.

The Grand Lodge at Nemacolin (Farmington, Pennsylvania)

Just in time for Thanksgiving, this all-suite hotel in southwestern Pennsylvania will open on Nov. 20 at Nemacolin, a sprawling resort with three hotels and other types of accommodations such as estates, homes and townhomes. Set amid the Laurel Highlands, the Grand Lodge has 56 suites, each with a dedicated butler. Some suites also have balconies.

The holidays are no small affair at Nemacolin, and families will find plenty to do, including ice skating, a 5K turkey trot, movies, crafts, painting classes, golf, horseback rides and, on Nov. 24, a light show where everyone can sip hot cocoa, join carolers in song, and pose for a photo with Santa. Also beginning on Nov. 24, you can visit the resort’s Hardy’s Holiday Village, where there will be dance performances by “elves” and places to sip cocoa and savor sweets. You can kick off your holiday shopping at Magical Maggie’s Mittens & Scarves, where you’ll find winter apparel, as well as at Santa’s House toy store and PJ’s Peppermint Emporium, where candy-cane-striped products are the theme, be they socks or blankets.

On Thanksgiving, a feast — roasted acorn squash and kale salad, sweet potato casserole, sugar- and spice-cured turkey breast, and double chocolate fudge cake are on the menu — will be available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ($175 a person; $75 for ages 5 to 12). Prices for the Grand Lodge start at $2,000 a night.

Waldorf Astoria Orlando (Orlando, Florida)

Why not add Mickey Mouse to the list of familiar faces with whom you’ll be spending the holiday? This 502-room-and-suite luxury hotel is on the verge of completing a property-wide makeover, and if you stay you’ll receive free transportation to the Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs, where plenty of holiday festivities await. (Guests of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando may enter the parks 30 minutes before opening time.)

Back at the hotel, linger over a four-course Thanksgiving dinner at Bull & Bear, which recently reopened with new menu items, including the “grande seafood tower” with oysters, jumbo shrimp, Alaskan king crab, crab cocktail and chilled Maine lobster ($160; serves two). The holiday menu includes pumpkin bisque, roasted heritage turkey with foie gras and trimmings, and pumpkin pie with salted caramel and pecan gelato ($155 a person; $65 for ages 12 and under). For a more intimate Thanksgiving, holiday specials like butternut squash soup and carved turkey can be delivered to your room.

As for the hotel’s rooms and suites, most will be renovated by Thanksgiving. Prices from $491 a night from Nov. 22-26.

New York Hilton Midtown (New York City)

Manhattan is home to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and while there are plenty of hotels in midtown, few put visitors in the heart of the city’s Thanksgiving festivities like this one. Located along the parade route on Avenue of the Americas between 53rd and 54th Streets, the vast 1,878 room-and-suite New York Hilton Midtown is also steps from the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park and Radio City Music Hall, home to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes.

The main attractions, of course, are the rooms with views of the balloons and performances along the parade route. You can even select your vantage point: low floor, high floor, side view, or full view. Most of the hotel’s packages require a minimum of four nights, from $750 a night for a “low floor side view” room to $2,800 a night for the “ultimate corner view” room with a full front view from a low floor. (For a more low-key experience, consider staying on the Upper West Side, where the day before the parade you can join New Yorkers in marveling at the giant character balloons being inflated in the streets.)

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