Holiday movies span the genres, ranging from the quotable comedies to the classics you watch every year and the made-for-television romances that have more sap than pine trees. No matter your Christmas movie preference, though, there’s a Colorado staycation to suit your cinematic personality.
At these hotels and destinations, the silver screen comes to life. Some of the movie inspiration is literal, like the over-the-top Hallmark movie-branded suite at Club Wyndham near Vail. Others deliver a more subtle sprinkling of holiday magic. As we begin the countdown to Christmas, here are the best staycations to take, based on your favorite holiday movie. Don’t forget to pack those Fair Isle Christmas footie pajamas in your overnight bag.
“Elf”: Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center
Ready to graduate from spectator to star? Fans of the 2003 Christmas comedy “Elf” can immerse themselves in iconic movie scenes at the Gaylord Rockies, which has a dozen interactive film set challenges — like a virtual snowball fight in Central Park, the frenetic prep for Santa’s arrival at a New York City department store, meandering through the whimsical candy cane forest and meeting the Christmas Eve toy quota in the North Pole workshop. The Gaylord teamed up with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment for the marquee programming, “Mission: Save Christmas, Featuring Elf.”
The resort overall is brimming with a whole lot of holiday cheer (enough to power Santa’s sleigh, and then some). Cirque arts meets Broadway-style musicals at Cirque Dreams Holidaze in the on-site bubly theater. Outside at Glacier Point, guests can zip down a four-lane snow tubing hill, go ice skating or glide about a rink in ice bumper cars. Plus, there’s gingerbread decorating, photos with Santa, storytelling and more.
Overnight packages and event tickets can be purchased at christmasatgaylordrockies.com. Advance online reservations are required for all ticketed events. 6700 N. Gaylord Rockies Blvd., Aurora, marriott.com. Nightly rates start at $259.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: Breckenridge
Did you know some of the most memorable parts of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” were filmed in and around Breckenridge? The slapdash sledding incident that sends Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold careening down the mountain was filmed at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Peak 8. Then, as Griswold’s greased-up saucer hits the pavement and he is dodging traffic with sparks flying, he’s actually skidding across Summit Boulevard in Frisco. Griswold cuts down a Christmas tree at the Breckenridge Golf Course, which is also where the family station wagon lands after being wedged under a logging truck and then flying off the road.
For a scenic Christmas vacation of your own (but, without, you know, the comedy of errors), head to Breck, which is a winter wonderland during the holiday season with more than 250,000 LED lights glimmering downtown. The Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas will be on Dec. 4. Or, sync up your visit with the Ullr Fest (Dec. 9-12) in honor of Ullr, the Norse god of snow. Also, you can go sledding at a more cautious speed at Carter Park.
Book a stay at Gravity Haus Breckenridge, a ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel that just landed on Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. 605 South Park Ave., Breckenridge, gravityhaus.com. Nightly rates start at $195.
“Home Alone”: The Curtis
With Instagram-worthy vignettes around just about every corner, and each floor with its own dedicated theme (Superheroes! Sci-fi! Sports!), The Curtis Hotel excels at scene-setting year-round. But this time of year, the hotel decks its halls to the max. You can book the “Hyper Holiday Suite” that pretty much looks like the set of a holiday movie. Or, the hotel will be offering a “Home Alone”-themed package that comes with a complimentary movie rental. Order a pizza, bring your own candy and be sure to make Kevin McCallister proud and brush your teeth with a toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association.
Because this staycation is all about putting the exponential factor on the holidays, round out your staycation by heading over to Union Station for Santa-approved cocktails at The Miracle Bar. 1405 Curtis St., Denver, thecurtis.com. Nightly rates start at $99.
Cheesy made-for-TV holiday movies: “Catbird”
The plots of made-for-TV movies are about as predictable as Christmas falling on Dec. 25. An overworked big city executive falls back in love with her hometown high school sweetheart as they work to save the local Christmas tree farm/fruitcake bakery/toy store. At Catbird, you can crawl under the covers in a lofted bed and unabashedly enjoy a heartwarming holiday movie marathon with the “Catbird and Chill Holiday Experience.”
The new RiNo hotel has 4K Ultra HD Projectors that drop from the ceilings to give guests a theater-like viewing experience. Dozens of new holiday movies come out each season, so to help you narrow down your selection, the hotel offers a “Catbird Favorites” holiday movie menu. The package also comes with cheesy holiday movie Bingo cards, with squares for scenes like “accidentally caught under the mistletoe,” “reunited in the town’s romantic gazebo” and “caught in an unexpected snowstorm.” Also included is movie theater popcorn, hot chocolate kits, romance novels from Tattered Cover and in-room holiday foliage from ReRoot botanicals. (Hint: Make your own mistletoe). The package is available through Dec. 31. 3770 Walnut St., Denver, catbirdhotel.com/special-offers, Nightly “Catbird and Chill” package rates start at $244.
“Deck the Halls”: The Art, a Hotel
In “Deck the Halls,” a 2006 Christmas comedy, Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) wants to decorate his house with enough lights so that it can be seen from space. Try this at home and you might get an HOA fine. But you can certainly enjoy an over-the-top light show and avant garde holiday decor at The Art, a Hotel, situated in the Golden Triangle museum district. The porte-cochère dazzles year-round with a light show of 22,000 LED light bulbs, an installation by Leo Villareal, the well-known artist behind the San Francisco Bay Bridge’s “Bay Lights.” During the holiday season, the hotel that could double as a museum puts a playful pop-art twist on classic Christmas tree decoration by decking the lobby and halls with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein-inspired trees. 1201 Broadway, Denver, thearthotel.com. Nightly rates start at $164.
Hallmark movies: Club Wyndham Resort at Avon
Picture this: After a day of skiing or ice skating, you retreat to your mega Christmas-themed hotel room where you sip hot cocoa with a projector casting snowflakes on the wall. Or you sidle up to the fireplace to toast s’mores, the holiday lights twinkling on your in-room Christmas tree. This cheerful dreamscape is the result of a collaboration between Club Wyndham Resort at Avon (near Vail) and the Hallmark Channel. The brands created three Hallmark movie-inspired suites across the country, including the winter wonderland-themed Colorado suite and others in New York City and Nashville.
Hallmark movie star Holly Robinson Peete told the “Today” show that the suites are like walking on to the set of one of her Christmas movies. They’re definitely a good setting to get cozy and watch one of the 40 new original holiday movies that Hallmark is premiering this year. The suite is available until Jan 1. 75 Benchmark Road, Avon, clubwyndham.wyndhamdestinations.com. Nightly Hallmark suite rate starting at $295.
“The Polar Express:” Durango
All aboard for a magical ride. During the holiday season, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs its “Polar Express” Train Ride, which re-creates the classic holiday story of a child’s Christmas Eve journey aboard a vintage steam train. During the 65-minute excursion, you’ll sip hot chocolate, enjoy a reading of “The Polar Express” by the conductor, and visit the North Pole, which dazzles with a light show synced up with holiday tunes. Santa will make his rounds on the return trip, passing out gifts. You’re encouraged to wear your pajamas (just like in the book and movie adaptation). But bundle up, too, because it’s wintertime in Colorado. 877-872-4607, durangotrain.com. Train tickets start at $29 for children, $39 for adults.
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: C Lazy U
From an ice skating pond to sleigh rides and tabletop Christmas trees in the cozy-chic cabin accommodations, C Lazy U Ranch is an ideal setting for a classic Colorado holiday. Leading up to Christmas, there’s nightly entertainment including traditional carols, cookie decorating, bonfires and hot cocoa bars. It’s tradition for Santa to visit the ranch the night before Christmas, arriving on a horse-drawn sleigh filled with presents to place under the tree for guests. On Christmas Eve, a traditional Christmas dinner is served in the dining room, with a turkey for each table. 3640 CO-125, Granby, clazyu.com. Nightly rates at the all-inclusive luxury dude ranch start at $410 for an adult and $200 per child.
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