Riverside, California – Reported by Erin Riley for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
If you are dreaming of a winter wonderland in a not-so-winter setting, then look no further than The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa of Riverside, California. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its infamous Festival of Lights that runs November 23 to January 5 and attracts over 250,000 visitors a year, The Mission Inn is Southern California’s timeless classic, especially at Christmas time.
The enthralling celebration kicks off with the Flipping of the Switch lighting ceremony, where visitors will see the landmark hotel instantly illuminated by more than 3.6 million lights and an extravagant fireworks display. Over the course of the merry-packed weeks, families especially will enjoy an array of festive treats: Dickensian carolers, real reindeers, horse-drawn carriages, an outdoor ice rink and even fresh snow in the desert come wrapped in a dreamscape winter wonderland setting.
The giving doesn’t stop there. Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is offering guests two exclusive packages that are sure to make the luxury travelers wish list. The Santa’s Suite Experience is a dream come true, as an elaborately decorated, two-bedroom Santa Suite comes decked with exquisite holiday trimmings such as a beautiful tree, stockings and holiday lights. A visit from Santa Claus with previously arranged presents under the Christmas tree, as well as a holiday dinner at the AAA Four-Diamond Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood restaurant put the finishing touches on this ultimate family celebration ($2,109 for Presidential Suite stay, $669 for Junior Suite stay).
In celebration of the hotel’s 20 golden years, a Heritage Holiday package will bring discerning guests a delightful taste of everything the five-star property has to offer. Gifts include a private docent art tour of the hotel, a horse-drawn carriage ride beneath the stars followed by a candlelit dinner in a private spot at the hotel, an in-room record player with a selection of holiday classics, a Polaroid camera to capture holiday memories and of course, hot cocoa or eggnog nightcap with freshly baked Christmas cookies delivered by Santa at turndown ($1,100).
One of the nation’s most enchanting holiday celebrations, The Festival of Lights is the property’s special gift to the city of Riverside, California from owners Duane and Kelly Roberts who saved the Mission Revival-style hotel from destruction upon purchasing and reopening it along with the Festival of Lights tradition in 1992.