Tag: Holiday

27 Great Holiday Gift Ideas From Truly Chic Hotel Boutiques

NO LONGER cramped kiosks selling postcards and prophylactics, many hotel gift shops have become expertly curated boutiques. And now some of the world’s great purveyors of hospitality have emerged as a solution for online shoppers who need a holiday gift for the curtailed travelers in their lives. Think fancy consumables specific to the hotel’s region, an unusual toy, local things unavailable anywhere else.

If your loved ones have a favorite hotel, to which they return time and again, but can’t this year, a souvenir from its gift shop can be especially thoughtful. Ideal for Aunt Jane who’s been itching to get back to Claridge’s? The London landmark is now selling its tea service for the first time via its online store.

Aunt Jane will be thrilled and you can feel good about yourself: Online Christmas shopping via hotel boutique helps the hard-hit hospitality industry, too. Many top names offer gift cards for future travel. But in the meantime, here’s a wish list of things you can get online and have delivered directly, even if the hotel is closed:

Made in Italy

Emporio Sirenuse at Le Sirenuse, Positano

Opened in 1951 when the Sersale family (and current owners) converted their house into a hotel, this small resort that hugs the Amalfi Coast is an Italian dream come true, with a boutique so chic that the wares—from vibrant caftan to snappy swim trunks—are also sold on Net-a-Porter. Standout item: the Suzani-inspired pillow cases (from $316) that mimic textiles used throughout the 58-room property. emporiosirenuse.com

Southern Exposure

Keep Shop at Noelle, Nashville

On the ground floor of this reinvented 1930s downtown hotel, the Keep Shop boutique features a range of home goods and clothing, most made in the Southern U.S., including Stetson cowboy hats (from $125) and an indigo kimono jacket from Nashville designer Oil + Lumber ($175). noelle-nashville.com, keep.shop

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Holiday store, recreation and restauarant open; Graham-Mebane lake closes

Elizabeth Pattman
| Times-News


Dewey’s Bakery Holiday Fundraising Store is now open in Alamance Crossing. The store, located at 1019 Boston Drive, is a full Dewey’s Bakery store benefiting Connect 4 Faith’s Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative. Fresh cookies, cakes, cheese straws and more treats are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, email [email protected] or call 336-850-1008.

The downtown Graham ice skating rink is now open through Dec. 20. Forty-five-minute skating sessions begin on the hour at 213 South Main Street. Skating and skate rentals are also free, but there is a small cost for concessions. Due to COVID-19, there is a maximum of 20 people on the ice at one time and masks are required on and off the ice. The rink is open 1 to 8 p.m. on Sundays, 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays. On Thursday nights between 5 and 8 p.m., you can reserve the rink for just your group or family for $25. If the rink is not reserved that night, it will be open to the public. For updates or inclement weather information, visit the Graham Recreation & Parks Facebook page.

More: Alamance COVID numbers climb through Thanksgiving week


Hibachi Buffet at Holly Hill Mall will reopen under new ownership on Dec. 4. The restaurant will now prepare food in front of customers, rather than in a buffet style.

The Cedarock Equestrian Center reopened this week. Located at 5160 Friendship Patterson Mill Road in Burlington, the equestrian center offers 6 miles of dedicated horse trails and a riding ring. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Equestrian Center and trails will close during heavy rains and inclement weather. Visit Facebook to check for closings.

More: Owners of Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream selling business


Graham-Mebane Lake has closed for the season. The lake will reopen on Feb. 5.

Have an item for Open & Shut? Email Elizabeth Pattman at [email protected] anytime.

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Italy to adopt travel ban within country during holiday season

The prime minister of Italy announced the country will enter an extended period of strict lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking to Italian citizens on Thursday evening, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, “It’s clear this will be a Christmas that is different from others,” adding that officials in the country will ban travel through the nation over the holiday season.

The travel ban within the country’s 20 regions will begin on Dec. 21 and last through Jan. 6. The prime minister urged residents of the country to cancel holiday plans, arguing the precaution would help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Conte made the announcement on the same day that Italian health officials recorded the highest number of total deaths in a day, 993 people, eclipsing March 27, when 919 died from complications arising from the disease.

Conte said that although the holiday season will be unlike any other, it would still be “no less authentic” than holidays past.

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Lyndhurst holiday lighting event is Dec. 4; Santa will travel the streets of Mayfield Heights Dec. 12, South Euclid Dec. 13

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — Because residents can’t come to see Santa Claus at South Euclid city hall this year, Santa will come to the residents.

The city, as a way of bringing holiday cheer to residents, will hold its first “South Euclid Holiday Parade” from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 13. “We’ve mapped out a route throughout the city we think will reach the majority of residents,” said Community Development Coordinator Daniel Subwick. “Santa Claus and a couple of his holiday pals in costume will be going down many of our streets and they will be passing out gifts to residents as they pass by. There will be a special treat for the first 100 residents.

“The parade will be going through most neighborhoods in the city, but we’re not able to go down every street.”

Subwick said that residents, as the Santa parade passes, are asked to follow safety measures, including social distancing, as they gather on sidewalks.

“We want to thank the police department for providing an escort, and the fire department for the truck that will be participating in the parade. Mayor (Georgine) Welo intends to be part of the parade.”

The city, since 2013, has annually held a holiday lighting event outside city hall, featuring singers, live reindeer, a visit from Santa, and more.

“We weren’t able to have an outdoor event this year (because of the pandemic), so we turned on the (holiday) lights at city hall on Monday (Nov. 30),” Subwick said. “City hall is now lit up, so residents can stop by and, if they’d like, takes photos.”

Subwick said that the parade’s route will soon be posted on the city’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

“It should be a fun event, come rain or shine,” Subwick said. “Santa will be here to keep alive the holiday spirit.”


The city of Lyndhurst will hold its annual lighting ceremony and food drive from 7-8 p.m. Dec. 4 behind city hall, 5301 Mayfield Road, in Lyndhurst Park.

A “Candy Cane Lane” has been set up in the park that will feature a visit from Santa Claus, who will be stationed at the park’s gazebo. Visitors are invited to take a photo in front of Santa, but should remember to remain properly distanced. Candy Cane Lane will remain open to visitors throughout the holiday season.

Those attending the lighting event are also invited to the Lyndhurst Community Center patio, at 1341 Parkview Drive, located at the northern end of the park, for hot chocolate and individually wrapped cookies.

During the lighting event, the Daisy Girl Scout Troop No. 71762 will continue its holiday food drive benefitting the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The goal is to reach 1,000 pounds of donated food. Among items sought are sweets, including candy, pudding mix, cookies and cake mixes; stuffing mix; canned cranberry sauce; packets of chicken or turkey gravy mix; and canned sweet potatoes or yams.

Donations can be made, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, in the drop box

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Airlines try to thread the needle as CDC warns against holiday travel

The airline and travel industry are wrestling with how to promote their struggling sectors in the run-up to the usually-busy Thanksgiving holiday, against the backdrop of stern new CDC recommendations released Thursday warning to avoid travel as coronavirus cases spiral uncontrolled.

a group of people sitting at a airport: A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.

© Chris O’Meara/AP Photo
A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said during a briefing Thursday, adding that the health agency is especially concerned about “transportation hubs.”

The agency’s recommendation lines up with a growing number of new state restrictions and warnings in response to record numbers of new cases and more than 250,000 U.S. deaths, as well as disease experts’ concerns that even small indoor gatherings of people from different locations could spread the virus further.

Thanksgiving is typically a banner time of year for the airline industry, which has seen rock bottom revenues in 2020. While the volume of travelers will be much less than in previous years, air carriers have still been hoping for a healthy uptick.

During a press conference held a week ago, Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, said “I hope you’re flying somewhere” for Thanksgiving. “I am,” he continued.

“Flying is safe, I will state that categorically,” Calio said.

But by Thursday, as Covid cases and spread spiked ever higher, Calio had adopted a more cautious tone, though he still insisted the risk of being infected on board a plane is low. On a joint holiday travel call with TSA, Calio said airlines want travelers to “make an informed decision.”

He suggested they look to research like a recent Harvard study that found that with a layered approach — including social distancing, masks and air filtration — the risk of coronavirus transmission aboard a plane is low.

Several additional studies have found the same, although the science is far from settled and other researchers have found suspected cases of transmission on board planes.

The mood was more grim at a U.S. Travel Association press conference later in the day. “We’re in an unprecedented and dangerous time,” said Michael Parkinson, a doctor who serves on an advisory panel for the group.

Roger Dow, the association’s president, said “I’d rather have a little less travel now to come back more quickly down the road.” However, the 74-year-old Dow said he himself will be traveling from Florida to Maryland for Thanksgiving.

TSA chief David Pekoske repeatedly side-stepped questions about whether the agency would discourage holiday travel, saying travelers should “make their own decisions.”

“The decision to travel is up to the traveler,” he said. “And my best advice to the traveler is to consider the recommendations that the Centers for Disease Control have made, that their local public health officials have made and any consultations that they think are appropriate with their own physicians.”

TSA expects to see travel volumes that are consistent with the Columbus Day weekend,

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Sparta Recreation Department’s First Christmas Tree Lighting and Other Holiday Events

SPARTA, NJ- The first Sparta Township Christmas tree lighting had to be held without a crowd.  The only element of the celebration that remained was the tree lighting on the front lawn of the Sparta VFW on Main Street on Thursday night.

Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano was joined by elves Alison Deeney, Kelly Giannantonio, Janice Williams, Mayor Jerry Murphy, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn and Mr. and Mrs. Clause.  

Plans originally included Santa in a snow globe for photos along with other activities typical for the annual Sparta Recreation Visit with Santa.  The most recent executive orders from Governor Murphy limiting indoor and outdoor crowds caused the activities to be canceled.

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According to Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano they are expanding Santa’s ride through the community on the fire truck on the weekend of December 11 and 12, weather permitting.  In past years, Santa would take an hour to ride through town on his way to meet children and their families at Station Park. 

Additional Christmas events are being offered by the Sparta Recreation Department.

Sparta children can mail letters to Santa and Santa will mail a letter in return.  They can be sent to Sparta Recreation at 65 Main Street in Sparta.  The Recreation department staff will make sure they get to the North Pole in time for Santa to respond. They even provide stationary.

Sparta Recreation is also sponsoring a Holiday Home Decorating contest.  For the first time residents will be able to register their home for consideration. 

  • Homes must be registered by December 11
  • Between December 14 and 16 The Sparta Recreation department staff will photograph the homes that are registered.
  • On December 17 the photos will be posted on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page,
  • The two homes with the most “likes” will win.
  • On December 22 the winners will be announced on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page.

The first and second place winners will receive a prize and a sign to display on their front lawn, according to the recreation department announcement.

Montemarano said details for the Menorah lighting, scheduled for next Thursday, are also being discussed.

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Need to cancel your holiday travel plans amid COVID? Here’s the latest on changes and refunds

With California’s pandemic policies tightening, COVID-19 cases escalating and vaccines unlikely to reach most people until spring or later, many families are rethinking their holiday travel plans. “It’s time to cancel everything,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference Wednesday night.

a group of people standing next to a sign: A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

© (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of health and human services, said Thursday the state is, in effect, telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, Ghaly said. The new requirements, to take effect Friday, were in response to stress on critical care services and hospital intensive care units. Details on how the state would enforce such a broad restriction remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

Here’s a quick look at how airlines, lodgings and other travel suppliers are handling reservation changes and cancellations.


In late August and early September, several airlines dropped their ticket change fees at least through the end of this year. Among them: Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian and United.

Southwest Airlines, which has had the most flexible major airline ticket policy for years, continues to allow passengers to rebook their flights for travel up to one year from the original purchase date.

It’s easier to get a credit or vouchers for future travel than it is to get your money back. As millions of travelers learned in the first months of the pandemic, many airlines refused to issue refunds unless they had canceled or significantly delayed a flight themselves. And even then, many did their best to nudge customers toward accepting travel credit rather than cash.

But as the Federal Trade Commission noted, airlines are required to offer refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights, even if the cause is beyond their control. If your airline resists, report it to the U.S. Department of Transportation — but be warned that the DOT can take months to process complaints and the process is far from a sure thing.


Amtrak has waived change fees for tickets bought by Dec. 31. You may be eligible for a credit voucher or a refund, depending on the type of ticket you bought.

The cheapest Saver Fares give refunds only within 24 hours of booking; these tickets can’t be changed, either. Value Fares offer a refund or voucher if you cancel within 15 days of your departure. Canceling closer to your departure date may cost you 25% of the ticket price.

Flexible, Business and Premium fares will give you a full refund or voucher with no fees as long as you cancel in advance. If you don’t show up without canceling, you forfeit your ticket.


Greyhound is allowing bus riders to postpone their travel plans through Jan. 31. Requests for a credit voucher must be made at least a day before you are scheduled to leave. (This doesn’t apply to cash or

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New survey reveals 55% of Canadians have a future vacation on their holiday wish list

TORONTO, Dec. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As the holiday season begins, new research commissioned by Sunwing shows a growing appetite among Canadians for receiving the gift of a vacation experience.

The survey uncovered that more than half (55%) of Canadians would like to receive the gift of a future vacation or travel certificate this holiday season. What’s more, of those respondents, nine-in-ten (89%) indicated they would be interested in being gifted an all inclusive getaway. The survey was conducted by Sunwing among members of the Angus Reid Forum between November 16-17, 2020, with a representative sample of 1,507 Canadians, in both English and French.

“Our research shows that many Canadians would love to receive the gift of a future vacation experience this holiday season,” said Samantha Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer of Sunwing Travel Group. “Sunwing is helping Canadians make giving the gift of a sunny getaway easy with a wide range of packages at unbeatable prices, so our customers can experience a truly unforgettable vacation to the tropics under our wing.”

Additional survey insights include:

  • 18-34 year olds were most interested in receiving a future travel gift, with 59% of respondents in that age bracket indicating they would be open to being gifted a future vacation or travel certificate this holiday season;
  • Respondents from Alberta (64%), British Columbia (58%) and Quebec (57%) were most interested in receiving a vacation gift this holiday season;
  • Among 35-54 year olds who said they wanted to receive a future vacation gift this holiday season, 93% said they would want an all inclusive vacation;
  • Among Ontarians who said they wanted to receive a vacation gift this holiday season, 93% indicated they would like to receive an all inclusive getaway.

Canadians can check everyone off their gift list with packages tailored towards all travel styles, whether they’re shopping for a romantic retreat or an adventure-filled getaway. Those looking for the perfect gift can also take advantage of impressive savings on vacation packages throughout the month of December.

Customers who book a future getaway can travel with peace of mind, knowing that the highest Canadian standards are in place throughout their entire vacation experience with the Safe with Sunwing commitment. Developed under the advisement of global healthcare leader Medcan, the program is in place every step of the way, from the moment travellers check-in at the airport to their transfers, their time in destination and their journey home, making for a safe and unforgettable getaway to the tropics.

To learn more about how you can gift a vacation experience this holiday season please visit Sunwing’s website.

About Sunwing

The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from over 33 airports across Canada to more than 45 popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages

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APs, DVC Members Enjoy 10% Discount at Select Holiday Kitchens During EPCOT Festival of the Holidays

As a small bonus for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members, EPCOT is now offering a 10% discount at select Holiday Kitchens. Guests can take advantage of this offer in the evenings starting at 7pm.

What’s Happening:

  • Disney is enticing guests to stay and dine a bit longer at EPCOT during the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
  • From now through the end of the Festival, Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of a 10% discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages at select Holiday Kitchens.
  • This discount is valid each evening from 7 pm through park close.
  • Guests must use electronic payment methods.
  • This limited time offering is a great way for guests to enjoy the festival in the evenings and sample delicious seasonal specialities served around the world!
  • Disney has not stated which Holiday Kitchen are participating but guests are sure to find a new favorite treat no matter which location they visit.
  • For more information about the Holiday Kitchens featured during this year’s festival, visit our Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Guide Page.

EPCOT Holiday Magic:

  • Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is running now through December 30, 2020 and includes dining, shopping, and entertainment offerings for the whole family. Highlights include:
Laughing Place recommends MouseFanTravel.com for all your Walt Disney World travel planning



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N.J. superintendent scolds parents for keeping quiet about kids with COVID-19, holiday travel

A Morris County schools superintendent says some parents have not been cooperating with coronavirus safety protocols by sending children to school when sick, not reporting positive COVID-19 results and ducking questions about Thanksgiving holiday travel.

Students returned to Chatham High School on Monday, and by Tuesday the district had received reports from parents of seven confirmed coronavirus cases, Superintendent Michael LaSusa said.

LaSusa told parents in a letter that school officials and nurses have “experienced challenges in some cases with obtaining accurate information from some parents about exposure to COVID, symptomatology of students, and travel over the long weekend.”

The high school has suspended in-person instruction until Dec. 16 “due to 7 reported cases in such a short period of time and reports of additional exposures over the holiday weekend,” LaSusa told NJ Advance Media on Thursday.

LaSusa said that most parents have been cooperating with school officials and nurses.

“The overwhelming majority of our parents are working with us and doing everything they can to be proactive and collaborative with the school district to help keep our schools open,” he said in an email.

“However, in a small number of cases, we have had parents send their children to school sick, not inform us of a positive test result for their child — which in turn delays or inhibits our ability to help the local health department with contact tracing, or argue with our nurses about protocols for quarantining or isolating,” LaSusa said.

Additional coronavirus cases have not been reported since Tuesday, but LaSusa noted that there often is a delay in receiving results.

“Our ability to keep our schools open depends upon keeping our staff healthy and out of quarantine, so I appreciate all of the sacrifices and efforts the overwhelming majority of parents have made to help make that happen,” he added.

In-person instruction is continuing at the other five schools in the School District of the Chathams, a regional K-12 district for more than 4,000 students in Chatham Township and Chatham Borough.

New Jersey’s 21 counties all are reporting “high” coronavirus levels — a designation that, according to state health guidelines, means they should should “consider implementing fully remote learning” in their schools.

If coronavirus levels reach the “very high” benchmark, all-remote learning would be required, but at least for now, local districts retain discretion.

The Chathams school district’s website on Saturday posted a reminder from LaSusa that anyone traveling to states other than New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania must quarantine for 14 days upon returning to New Jersey, and that the same standard applies if anyone in the household begins experiencing “COVID-compatible” symptoms.

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Rob Jennings may be reached at [email protected]


©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

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