holiday spirit

14 Florida hotels and resorts with lots of holiday spirit

Beth Luberecki
Published: December 13, 2023

Whether you’re looking for tropical holiday touches or a Sunshine State version of a winter wonderland, there’s a Florida hotel or resort where you can be filled with the holiday spirit. From giant Christmas trees and realistic-looking snowfall to over-the-top gingerbread displays and sweet treats galore, the festivities are in full force at these hotels located all over the state.

Here are 14 Florida hotels and resorts offering lots of holiday spirit and magic for special Christmas season getaways.

The world’s largest Marriott goes all out for the holidays. Here, elves sing carols at Orlando World Center Marriott. (photo credit: Orlando World Center Marriott)

Orlando World Center Marriott has lots of holiday spirit

Year-round amenities abound at Orlando World Center Marriott, the largest Marriott property in the world. It’s the best water park hotel in Orlando, and also offers 18-hole and mini golf courses, 10 dining options, a spa and an array of family-friendly activities. 

During the holiday season, there’s even more to do at the expansive resort. From December 23 to January 1, the 10 Days of Holiday Fun event includes holiday crafts, Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunts, pool-side holiday movies, a pop-up gingerbread bar for kids and adults, and a “North Pole takeover” of the lobby and common areas featuring Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and plenty of lights.

The resort’s Latitude & Longitude Restaurant serves up buffets on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and guests can book a special New Year’s Eve package for an upgrade to a pool view room with a private balcony ideal for watching the resort’s nightly laser light show and New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus get a $50 resort credit daily and a 2 p.m. checkout.

The Avalon Guest House at Southernmost Beach Resort is decked out in its holiday best. (photo credit: Southernmost Beach Resort)

Southernmost Beach Resort

This Key West resort offering two ways to stay might be in a totally tropical setting, but it still has lots of holiday spirit. Whether you choose to stay at The Guest Houses at Southernmost Beach Resort or the newly renovated Southernmost Beach Resort, you’ll find dazzling lights, snowflakes and other festive decor to get you in the holiday mood. Special activities include a candy cane hunt and sandman building contest, and what’s better than enjoying Christmas Eve dinner oceanfront at the resort’s restaurant?

Its Historic Old Town location at the south end of Duval Street also makes it easy to take part in seasonal fun throughout the island. The Conch Republic is characteristically offbeat on New Year’s Eve, when various bars put their own Key West-style spin on the traditional ball drop.

The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club

With its pretty pink façade and Mediterranean Revival architecture, the historic Vinoy Resort & Golf Club is a much-loved St. Petersburg landmark at any time of the year. But a holiday stay adds even more to the experience.

A 12-foot Christmas tree adorns the grand lobby, which is done up in holiday style complete with garlands, ribbon and twinkling lights. At the new “Nutcracker Tea” experience, holiday teas and pastries from the hotel’s French patisserie, Lottie, are accompanied by elements from the beloved Christmas season ballet. A Christmas Eve open-air pig roast takes place at The Vinoy’s Latin American–inspired restaurant Parasol, and the many shops, restaurants and museums in downtown St. Pete, along with the city’s stretch of Tampa Bay waterfront and the not-to-be-missed St. Pete Pier, await just outside the hotel’s front doors.

Get into the holiday spirit with a special holiday tea at The Breakers in Palm Beach. (photo credit: The Breakers)

The Breakers

This legendary Palm Beach resort has been drawing in visitors for luxe getaways since 1896. And true to form, The Breakers also celebrates the holidays in high style. That means movies and bonfires on the resort’s Front Lawn, gingerbread house and cookie decorating, plenty of hot cocoa and lots of holiday spirit.

Seasonal carnival events feature balloon artists, ice cream treats, and family-friendly shows, and the Family Entertainment Center is the site of an impressive outdoor holiday light display. Festive food and drink available during the season include holiday teas and Christmas brunches and buffets. 

Take a cookie decorating class at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa this holiday season. (photo credit: Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa)

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

A South Walton family favorite for four decades, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has a lot going on this holiday season. Not only is it in the midst of a $35-million renovation bringing updates to its guest rooms, restaurants, public spaces, and pools, but it’s also got a full schedule of holiday fun.

Seasonal activities include holiday movie nights by the pool, cookie decorating, holiday-themed drinks like hot cocoa and an eggnog station, on-site carolers, and an adults-only holiday cocktail making class. That’s all in addition to the white-sand beach and emerald green Gulf of Mexico waters beckoning outside your room (each guest room and suite offers full or partial Gulf views), where hotel staff can help set you up with beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and beach bonfires.

Make a splash this holiday season at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. (photo credit: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa)

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

Check in to the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa for some festive family fun. Happenings with holiday spirit at the Forbes Five-Star resort include kid-friendly pastry decorating classes, holiday cocktail classes for the grownups, complimentary holiday ice cream toasts and a Buddy the Elf pancake bar on Christmas Eve morning.

There’s a Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greet on Christmas morning, plus special holiday menus to enjoy. And if you need to work off all that festive food, the resort leads a 90-minute “cookie crusher” workout every Saturday in December. Young guests can add to the fun at the resort’s new kids and teens clubs, which offer games, crafts, movies, and culinary activities, and even the family pooch can enjoy a getaway with goodies like a plush pet bed, food and water bowls, and homemade treats awaiting them in the room.

The Holiday Haven package at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club decks guest rooms with holiday spirit by way of coastal-inspired frosted Fraser fir Christmas trees. (photo credit: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club)

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

The AAA Five-Diamond Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has been welcoming guests since 1928, and the beloved Northeast Florida beachfront resort rolls out the holiday carpet during the month of December. Seasonal activities include gingerbread workshops, ornament-making classes, breakfasts and visits with Santa, and family movie nights featuring classics like Home Alone.

Two special packages add to the festive fun. Book the Holiday Haven package, and your room will be adorned with a coastal-inspired frosted Fraser fir Christmas tree. You’ll also receive a delivery of hot chocolate and holiday treats on the night of your arrival from the resort’s “elves,” plus a letter to Santa kit and commemorative ornament. The Coastal Christmas Getaway package includes all of that plus a butler-served holiday dinner for four with Champagne in your two-bedroom oceanfront suite.

You’ll find elves poolside this holiday season at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. (photo credit: Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort)

Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort — where holiday spirit lives

Celebrate the holidays in Jimmy Buffett style at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. This laidback tropical getaway right on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk offers all kinds of seasonal fun, including Holiday Rockstar Karaoke events and complimentary weekend hot cocoa bars complete with marshmallows and infused whipped creams.

The resort’s Margaritaville Restaurant hosts a Christmas buffet and a family-friendly New Year’s Eve dinner. Later that evening the celebration continues for the adults with a live band and buffet. The St. Somewhere Spa offers Twelve Days of Pampering specials on treatments, and the resort’s ‘Tis the Season special includes a $100 resort credit and $50 retail credit per stay for bookings of two nights or more through January 28, 2024, plus a $10 donation to the Give Kids the World Village for children with critical illnesses and their families.

The holiday spirit is alive and well at Omni Amelia Island Resort.

Omni Amelia Island Resort

Book a holiday stay at Omni Amelia Island Resort in Northeast Florida and you’ll find lots of ways to embrace the season and its holiday spirit. Take part in holiday crafts and cookie decorating, roast s’mores around the fire and compete in a holiday-themed mini golf tournament. The resort’s Camp Amelia kids programming offers nature activities and other fun for young guests, and there are even opportunities to meet the Nature Center’s animal residents.

Special meals are offered on Christmas and New Year’s, and there’s a New Year’s Eve party just for kids. That’s all on top of the any-time-of-the-year activities and amenities at the resort, which include pools, beach access, fishing, bike rentals, golf and tennis.

Indulge in a sweet treat at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach. (photo courtesy of The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort)

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort brings a touch of sophistication to the season for guests of all ages. That includes elevated holiday dining experiences like a Christmas Eve dinner with Mediterranean-inspired holiday dishes and a Christmas Day brunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The resort’s traditional afternoon tea also gets a holiday twist.

The luxe Miami Beach resort offers an array of festive food, drink and holiday spirit this time of year, from peppermint milkshakes and hot chocolate to seasonal carts serving up popcorn, shave ice, cotton candy and eggnog. The kids can get crafty and build gingerbread houses, while the whole family can watch holiday flicks and visit with Santa. If you need a break from the holiday activity, you can relax by the pool, at the beach, or at the spa.

Billy the Elf and Velvel are special guests this holiday season at JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. (photo credit: JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa)

JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa

Cookie decorating. Holiday crafts. Brunch with Santa. Elf story time. Those are just some of the holiday activities taking pace at JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa during the month of December. Make sure to search for the resort’s Elf on the Shelf and Mensch on the Bench each day, and don’t miss the Gingerbread Fairy Village in the lobby.

There’s fun for grownup guests too, including the Seven Cocktails of Christmas available at Sear + Sea Lobby Bar and special spa treatments like the Seasonal Serenity Massage, Cranberry Cider Exfoliating Scrub and Winter Glow Facial. The resort is done up in holiday style, and an optional Deck the Halls package transforms any suite into a winter wonderland complete with a decorated Christmas tree, personalized stockings, and a tasty holiday gift.

Make an Old Florida-style escape to Gasparilla Inn & Club. (photo credit: Gasparilla Inn & Club)

The Gasparilla Inn & Club

An Old Florida–style escape to Southwest Florida’s Gasparilla Inn & Club makes for a great way to close out the year. The historic resort’s Twelve Days of Christmas celebration includes games and craft sessions for kids, afternoon tea, and family movies and activities in the evenings. Enjoy cookies on Christmas Eve and a Christmas dinner in the elegant main dining room, then ring in the New Year with a morning sand sculpture workshop on the beach and a countdown before midnight.

The inn offers a range of accommodation options for guest groups of all sizes. Couples can opt for a guest room, suite, or cottage, while families can spread out in one of the resort’s villas, houses, or beach cottages. Rent a golf cart for getting around the village of Boca Grande and sink into the slower pace of island life.

Ride the holiday wave at Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando. (photo credit: Lake Nona Wave Hotel)

Lake Nona Wave Hotel

The coolest and most techy hotel in the Orlando area, Lake Nona Wave Hotel makes a perfect home base for enjoying Lake Nona’s Oh, What Fun! holiday festival. Start off with a seasonal cocktail or spiked hot chocolate from the Fa La La La Bar in the hotel’s Sculpture Garden, then stroll along the Evergreen Tree Trail to Lake Nona’s Town Center, where you just might see some snow falling.

There’s fun for all ages throughout the season, from photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus to a holiday market and special sweet treats. The hotel also offers special holiday dishes and dining experiences for Christmas and New Year’s, and you can score 25% off a holiday staying by using promo code OHFUN23. And when you’re ready to call it a day, set the lights on low, press a button to close the blackout shades covering your room’s View smart glass windows, and slip into your bed done up in luxe Frette linens.

About 400 hours were dedicated to building the 15-foot-long equestrian jump made of gingerbread on display at The Equestrian Hotel in Ocala. (photo credit: The Equestrian Hotel)

The Equestrian Hotel

Located in horse-loving Ocala, The Equestrian Hotel offers rooms that overlook the action at the World Equestrian Center. So it’s not surprising that it puts a horsey spin on the holidays. Instead of your typical gingerbread house, it’s got a seven-foot-tall, 15-foot-long equestrian jump made of gingerbread on display.

It took about 400 hours to create the impressive confection, which includes some 450 pounds of gingerbread dough, 120 pounds of brown sugar, and 80 pounds of butter. In addition to that spectacular sweet treat, the Central Florida hotel also features a 45-foot Christmas tree, more than one million lights, and a Christmas tree maze. Breakfasts with Santa are also on the schedule, along with Victorian carolers and s’mores roasting.

Next up: The 7 best places for bottomless mimosas in Tampa

Share This :