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10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

There’s nowhere quite like home for the holidays, but all the stress that comes with preparing the perfect festive meal for your crew can leave you feeling more frazzled than thankful. This November, let the pros at these luxurious lodgings do the cooking, so you can focus on spending time with those closest to you.

From ice skating and turkey trots to multicourse meals and bountiful buffets, these Forbes Travel Guide-approved hotels are serving up all the fixings to make your Thanksgiving one to remember.

Pendry San Diego

Feast for a cause during the second annual ChefsGiving charity dinner at this sleek San Diego hotel. On November 14, 12 local toques (including Lionfish executive chef Jojo Ruiz and Top Chef Mexico alum Claudette Zepeda) will team up to prepare a family-style dinner of gourmet holiday fare (braised turkey legs, twice-baked Japanese sweet potatoes, roasted sunchoke and burrata gratin) that you can feel good about — $30 from each ticket will be donated to the San Diego Food Bank.

If you can’t snag a seat to the charitable gathering, you can still enjoy seasonal treats on November 28 with Provisional’s three-course Thanksgiving menu.

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Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

Savor Turkey Day with a side of sunshine when you spend the holiday at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Beverly Hills hideaway. On November 28, dig into a French-accented feast of roasted turkey roulade and caramelized pear and pecan stuffing at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended bistro Avec Nous.

After polishing off a pumpkin tart, visit the Lobby Lounge & Bar for seasonal sips (cider for kids, cognac cocktails for grownups) and, maybe, a star sighting or two. And with the SoCal hotel’s Family Festivity offer, you’ll sleep soundly knowing that you not only saved 50 percent off a second room for the tots, but scored pint-sized robes and gratis breakfast in the morning, too.

Park Hyatt Chicago

While this posh Michigan Avenue property may make for an ideal home base for some Black Friday shopping, its culinary display the night before at NoMI Kitchen should not be overlooked. Book a spot for the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant’s popular Turkey Day buffet to indulge in an array of chef’s stations featuring everything from sushi and antipasti to classics like truffle- and sage-brined turkey with cranberry-cornbread stuffing.

And don’t miss a trip to the decadent dessert bar. Treats like cranberry-jam- and gingerbread-cream-stuffed choux puffs and pumpkin pie with whipped white chocolate Chantilly ganache will provide a sweet ending to the day.

Viejas Resort & Casino

Get into the spirit of the season with a visit to Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink at this Four-Star resort just outside San Diego. Lace up your skates and glide across the rink beneath twinkling lights that will put you in a festive mood.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, refuel with The Buffet at Viejas’ Thanksgiving Day menu . The carving station will serve up autumnal specialties like smoked turkey breast with port wine demi-glace, and bourbon honey ham with currant sauce alongside all the trimmings.

If you’re craving a more romantic holiday, be sure to check in at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Willows Hotel & Spa at Viejas, an all-suite, adults-only oasis just steps from the action.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Rather than just one day of celebration, make a weekend of it when you spend Thanksgiving at this Five-Star Southern charmer just outside of Charleston. Kick off the holiday with a turkey trot on the beach, followed by a turkey hunt, family sand sculpting competition and fall festival complete with live music and pumpkin bowling.

When it comes time for dinner, you’ll find an array of scrumptious-sounding feasts, from football and a festive atmosphere at The Players’ Pub to a fall-inspired, multi-course menu in The Ocean Room.

On November 29, the Christmas season gets into full swing with the property’s annual tree lighting ceremony, a holiday bazaar workshop where you can make your own gifts and a hot-cocoa-accompanied showing of The Polar Express.

The Garden City Hotel

Add a little romance to your Thanksgiving festivities when you book the Fall Celebrations package at this grand Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Long Island favorite.

Soak in the stunning fall foliage (and give thanks for some time alone together) from the comfort of your plush room while enjoying epicurean extras like apple confections, locally crafted hard cider and a $50 credit you can apply toward seasonal fare at Red Salt Room by David Burke.

If you still have room after all those goodies, pull up a seat for the property’s Thanksgiving Grand Brunch Buffet. Also curated by chef Burke, the elaborate spread features everything from turkey and sides to breakfast staples (an omelet station, vanilla French toast) and Mediterranean mezze (hummus, grilled haloumi cheese).

Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection

Skiers hit the Thanksgiving jackpot this year as Aspen Mountain opens for the season on November 28. Be one of the first to cruise the slopes and work up an appetite for a holiday feast at this historic Four-Star hotel.

From 2 to 8 p.m., restaurant Prospect will present a bountiful buffet of fall favorites (butternut squash bisque, citrus-herb-roasted turkey with cranberry sauce) and succulent seafood (an oyster- and shrimp-packed raw bar) to help you round out your alpine holiday.

Archer Hotel Austin

For a Thanksgiving feast with Southwestern flair, head to this trendy Forbes Travel Guide Recommended boutique hotel, where Second Bar + Kitchen (the second outpost from the popular local restaurant) will cook up a mouthwatering spread. Nibble on chipotle-corn muffins with honey-lime butter while piling your plate with maple-mustard-glazed Niman Ranch ham and roasted sweet potatoes with bourbon apples.

Get a head-start on your holiday shopping (and work off those tasty indulgences) by browsing the array of high-end stores in the nearby Domain Northside retail district. Be sure to snap a selfie or two with the neighborhood’s unique decorations — Cowboy Santa and the 10-foot-tall Willie Nelson nutcracker offer a quirky taste of Austin.

Belmond Charleston Place

Always a go-to for special occasions in the Holy City, this regal Four-Star retreat’s Charleston Grill is pulling out all the stops in late November with a three-course meal fit for a debutante.

Snag a table in the elegant Four-Star restaurant’s wood-paneled dining room to savor festive French-inspired plates like foie gras with rosemary, braised rabbit with potato dumplings and crab cakes. Of course, traditional herb-roasted turkey with all the fixings is also available for Thanksgiving purists.

End your evening on a sweet note with a pumpkin pie pot de crème, served with a comforting apple turnover and cinnamon whipped cream.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

For an unforgettable holiday, check into this recently refreshed Five-Star classic where unbeatable views of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come standard.

Book the Specialty Suites promotion to not only receive ultra-plush accommodations facing the parade route, but also a slew of celebratory extras like in-suite brunch, a one-hour session with a personal photographer and a $250 credit at Four-Star La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa.

Cap off your indulgent stay with a three-course Thanksgiving dinner at the posh property’s newly opened Contour restaurant. Fall-tinged dishes like New Bedford scallops with apple cider glaze and sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut cream sauce add a modern twist to the menu. —Sarah Chanin

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958. Since then, its team of incognito inspectors have checked into thousands of hotels, dined at just as many restaurants, and experienced scores of spa treatments to bring you information on the very best places to stay, eat and relax around the world. Throughout ForbesTravelGuide.com, you’ll find Star-Rated and recommended hotels, restaurants and spas, as well as information on destinations and activities, created by Forbes Travel Guide’s team of professional editors, correspondents, expert and inspectors.

Source: 10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

 

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How A Hotel Earned Five Stars For Five Years

Managing director Robert Schofield

Managing director Robert Schofield

The Langham, Chicago

It’s difficult to earn a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award — only 20 percent of all hotels rated attain the honor — but it’s even harder to maintain it. The Langham, Chicago hit a hot streak, winning the top accolade for five years in a row. The 52-story riverfront hotel also holds the distinction of having the only Five-Star spa in the city.

We talked to hotel managing director Robert Schofield to find out what it takes to achieve excellence year after year, the most underrated amenity at the property and what you should do on your next Chicago visit.

Take A Dip In The Pool

Take A Dip In The Pool

The Langham, Chicago

What’s The Langham, Chicago’s secret to continual Five-Star success?

The Langham brand itself was not very well-known in the United States when we decided to build the Chicago company, and therefore we were faced with some real big challenges in terms of our competition because we have some really great hotels here in Chicago — the Peninsula, the Waldorf and the Ritz.

We said, “Okay, how are we going to introduce a sort of limited name, not a lot of recognition, a Five-Star property against the big brands?” The only way we could do that was to establish the best hotel.

We set about seeing what standards we would need to do that. [We blended] in the Forbes [Travel Guide] standards into Langham brand standards and then basically created a vision for all our colleagues that we employ.

Most importantly, with any product at all, it’s the consistency of that product. So to make sure that we were consistent in what is a human service type of business is in many ways much more challenging than creating a motorcar or suit or any other product that you put to the public. They can test it before they go out, and therefore the guest gets something that has already been checked as being perfect.

Human beings aren’t quite the same in terms of being perfect, and we have to instill a culture into the hotel whereby each colleague actually feels ownership of our product. And through ownership of our product, they have to engage with our guests, they effectively have to take that ownership to deal with any guest inquiry at any point in time. And through tens and twenties of thirties of contact points in that whole of the guest experience, not one of those can be adverse. Because as we all know, the one that you remember is the one that doesn’t go well.

Infinity Suite

Infinity Suite

The Langham, Chicago

We don’t employ guest relations managers in the hotel, which is odd. I know many, many Five-Star hotels do. The philosophy behind that was really every single colleague has to take responsibility to be the guest relations manager. So effectively everybody has to take action on the spot to meet the needs of the guest. The key thing there is each and every one of our colleagues is personally empowered to do that. We expect it from every one of our colleagues. And we orientate them to that right at the beginning. We try to employ colleagues that are willing to take ownership, that are naturally hospitable, keen to please the guest, and this will create a total environment whereby everybody is a guest relations manager.

If we have guests who leave without great memories, we have failed. We have a beautiful stage, a beautiful hotel. But a stage is a stage, and at the end of the day, it’s the performance on that stage that creates the memories for our guests.

To make something consistent, you have to have processes in place. Once those processes are in place, you have to continually review what your colleagues are doing. The same way that if you were a producer of a stage production, you would be watching what everybody was doing on that stage all of the time to make sure everything was perfect and was in accordance in what your goals and objectives were.

We have the same attitude with our departmental managers. They effectively have their stages via the Pavilion restaurant, Travelle restaurant or spa. It doesn’t matter which location in the hotel — the manager in charge of that, it’s their show. They have to watch the body language, they have to watch the reactions of our colleagues towards guests and basically make sure they are in full compliance with the training we’ve given them.

But most of all, it’s hiring the right people who actually want to do this and want to be part of building the reputation of the hotel, maintaining the reputation of the hotel.

Pavilion

Pavilion

The Langham, Chicago

What are the biggest challenges of running a Five-Star hotel?

The biggest challenge is to be better every day. You can never rest on your laurels, you have to effectively all day, every day, look at every aspect of the operation and see how it can be better, whether the maintenance department, the kitchen, the restaurant, the spa — the whole team has to continually be looking to see how they can get better.

Challenges come and go. The market conditions in a hotel change. Sometimes you’ll have a bigger demand in the marketplace, sometimes a lesser demand. Maybe new hotels are built and that becomes challenge, because now the guest has more opportunities. We have to build guest loyalty through their interactions with us so they will continually come back and spend time with us.

The challenges going forward: it’s a tight labor market in Chicago and nationally. We have to make sure we hire the right people. We only hire 2 percent of the applicants that actually apply to us. We have to make sure we retain the colleagues we have, and we do that through a big concentration on our colleagues in terms of what their individual needs are for the next five years. We look at the succession planning processes that we incorporate into the hotel. We train people, we recognize and respect each and every our colleagues for the part they play. At the end of the day, it’s a one team, one dream situation. Our goal now is to become a legendary Langham.

In your five years of having the Five-Star award, how has the luxury traveler changed?

I think much more casual elegance as opposed to formal elegance. Things don’t change drastically over a five-year period. But things tend to evolve. The world is a much more casual environment. We maintain a graciousness. We definitely don’t want to be formal and stuffy — and we never were when we opened the hotel.

Travelle
The Langham, Chicago

What’s an underrated feature at the hotel?

I think the club lounge on the 13th floor. Many hotels in the past had butlers that went to guest rooms and knocked on doors to ask if guests effectively wanted any services.

We incorporated our butlers into our club lounge, which is a very unique, relaxing area with food available for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. And that has been so popular. The panoramic view covers Lake Michigan and the whole of the riverwalk and the river itself.

The goal of the butlers in the club lounge is to have a private check-in facility and very much a personalized level of service whereby the guest meets the butlers all day long, rather than just meeting them when they have tea in a normal situation. Now the butlers get the guests the minute they arrive, they check them in, they escort them to the room, they provide other services for them if they want a bath run or want their luggage unpacked.

How has Chicago changed in the six years you’ve been at the Langham?

We’ve seen a very lovely evolvement on the Chicago Riverwalk whereby the walking and entertainment area has been expanded for a great distance all the way up to Lake Street. That is literally what we look out onto — the Chicago Riverwalk and the Chicago River. So that’s been much more of a leisure destination now, which has brought a lot of business down into this part of town where we are located.

What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?

The riverwalk. You have all the restaurants, you have the kayaking — it’s lovely. The architectural tour is obviously right outside our windows, and that is such a popular thing for anybody coming to Chicago.

If you want to go a little further north, you can go to Lincoln Park. I personally love that area for walking dogs. It has a zoo, it has the lakefront down there, it has a lot of people sunbathing during the summer months and bicycling up and down there all year round. It’s a really memorable section of Chicago, for sure.

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958.

Source: How A Hotel Earned Five Stars For Five Years

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