Christmas Traditions Come at a Price

The menu is nine courses starting with canapés, followed by goose foie gras with smoked eel, then shellfish mariniere with spinach and truffles, bass and kernel of scallops, cutlet and saddle of lamb, small ice cream log with pralines and of course, a tangy rose iced mousse with red berries.

Rooms at the Meurice for a three-day break begin at $767 a night, but that includes breakfast, tea on Christmas afternoon and chocolates for children.

A Family-Run Hotel in the Austrian Alps

In Lech, Austria, one of the premier ski resorts in the Alps, there is a Christmas break that harkens back to an earlier century and a time when hotels were run by families.

The Gasthof Post is a hotel that dates to 1650 and sits along what was once a pack horse track through an Alpine pass. It has been run by the same family since 1937.

The staff performs a nativity play on Christmas Eve by a roaring fire and Sandra Moosebrugger, wife of manager Florian Moosebrugger, reads the Christmas story from the Bible.

And of course, there's a brass band and huge traditional meals. Christmas Eve includes asparagus aspic, saddle of lamb, pickled ox cheek, smoked breast of pigeon, venison, cheese and rhubarb and curd.

But all of this comes at a price -- with or without snow. A double room is $741 a night. Christmas Eve dinner is extra.

Despite the prices, hotels find themselves fully booked for Christmas. Even the rooms at the Huka Lodge near far-off Wellington, New Zealand, are full.

Sitting near a roaring waterfall, Huka Lodge was founded in the 1920s by an Irishman named Alan Pye, who discovered the hotel's setting. Then, it was an informal hunting and fishing and sleeping lodge with canvas tents.

Today, it is all about luxury.

The three-day Christmas break -- including meals -- costs $5,100 for two. There is hiking, trout fishing, tennis, soaking in hot pools, horseback riding and helicopter rides to the Kaimanawa mountain ranges. Fishing in the mountains is followed by another helicopter ride to Lake Taupo, where lunch and a chilled bottle of New Zealand wine await. And then there is the gourmet food in the lodge's dining room.

By the way, prices don't include airfare.

'A Family Event' at $2,200 per Room

A little bit closer to home, in the French region of Beaujolais, the Chateau de Bagnols is becoming increasingly popular with Americans.

"In our opinion, Christmas is no longer the religious event it used to be, compared to Latin countries where it is still a family event," says Sarah Ansari, the Chateau's front office manager.

Chateau de Bagnols offers a visit to the Christmas market in nearby Lyon, champagne and jazz on Christmas Eve and a seven-course Christmas dinner. That meal includes scallops, winter vegetables with truffles, roasted turbot, traditional Christmas turkey from Bresse, a selection of fresh and mature cheeses and dessert.

The cost is approximately $2,200 per room.

The hotel is part of the Rocco Forte group. In its Cardiff, Wales, hotel alone, it estimates they will cook 240 turkeys ranging from 16 to 22 pounds.

London's century-old Ritz Hotel, a jewel on Piccadilly next to Green Park, offers a three-day break for those who want to spend most of their time indoors.

It all starts on Dec. 23 with champagne and canapés in your room, a chauffeur-driven car to take you to the theater, and then a post-theater dinner in the Ritz restaurant.

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