ABOVE PHOTO: Some of the many elaborate lobby decorations (Photos: Renée S. Gordon)
By Renée S. Gordon
A recipe for a sensational winter holiday is based on creating the best gifts of all, lasting memories of family, camaraderie, mirth and unrestrained joy.
Add to this mixture a surprising blend of seasonal activities, thematic interactive experiences, eclectic shopping venues and unique dining opportunities and you are bound to have a holiday that is almost defies description. The final, and very important, ingredient is a welcoming place.
Gaylord Hotel & Resort has crafted Christmas on the Potomac as a curated family experience that is memorable and exciting for all ages and ability levels. (#ChristmasOnThePotomac, www.marriott.com/gaylord-hotels/gaylord-national-harbor-christmas-on-the-potomac.mi)
George Washington was the first to put forth the idea that the harbor area, a few miles from Mount Vernon, was an ideal location to establish a center of commerce. Washington — who was a renowned dancer and 18thcentury party animal — would have approved of the Waterfront District of National Harbor as a gathering place for celebrations, rest, relaxation and recreation.
While always a destination in itself, Gaylord National Resort has become a nonsecular Christmas world that offers visitors the opportunity to stay and play and soak up holiday magic in both traditional and nontraditional ways. The menu of activities is extensive, and with the addition of accommodations in one of the more than 2,000 available rooms, the fun need never stop. Guests can spend quality time strolling the 19-story atrium with its 55-ft. suspended Christmas Tree, regularly scheduled laser light shows featuring indoor water and snowfalls, holiday music and brightly decorated nooks and crannies in all of the public spaces. Children can write and send a letter to Santa from the lobby’s special post office.
“Cirque Dreams Unwrapped” is showcased in the atrium nightly. The production transports you into the mystical realm of aerial, comic and acrobatic artistry. (#CirqueDreamsUnwrapped)
“ICE!” featuring Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” depicts the well-loved tale hand carved from 2-million pounds of colored ice maintained at 9-degrees in a special tent. This self-guided exhibition features ice slides and photo ops. Parkas are issued, but bring gloves, hats and scarves, it really is COLD! (#BlueParka)
An adjacent Christmas Village offers shopping, gingerbread house decorating, photo ops and the two-story tall, four-lane, Reindeer Rush Tubing.
Dining experiences are an adventure at the Gaylord, and “What’s Cooking At Gaylord National – Holiday Edition” is especially unique. Guests can join the culinary team for a hands-on demonstration on general techniques and creating a special gourmet meal for the holiday. For those slightly younger, Gaylord hosts the Whoville inspired buffet “Feast with The Grinch.”
Activities exclusive to hotel guests include a demonstration VIP Carver Showcase, the Silent Disco on Ice and Pajama Story Time with Snowflake the Elf. Guests also have access to the Junior Olympic-size swimming pool, fitness center and 20,000-square-foot Relâche Spa with Winter Wine Down holiday treatments.
The magic continues onto the harbor front, where ice skating is available in Gaylord’s Winter Square. If you tire of skating or just want to observe, you can visit the Tinsel Tavern ugly sweater bar for holiday warmth and hot cocoa.
The Capital Wheel is situated on the pier at National Harbor. The 180-ft. wheel provides Potomac River views in climate controlled, holiday decorated gondolas. Santa will be riding with families on Saturdays. A short walk away the Waterfront Carousel invites you to meet the Ice Princess and her snowman friend on Saturdays. National Harbor’s programs include fireworks at 5:30 PM on Saturdays until the December 28 and free holiday movies at 3:30 PM until December 21. The first 120 people to arrive will receive a free blanket. (www.nationalharbor.com)
National Harbor Circulator is free to Gaylord guests, and you can hop aboard and go to Tanger Outlets, as well as the MGM National Harbor. Tanger Outlets has more than 80 designer brands, in addition to eateries and programs.
Experience the magic of Christmas on the Potomac at the Gaylord National Resort. Information is available online at: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasgn-gaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center .
“Lost Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs” will premiere on the Science Channel at 8pm on Sunday, December 1, 2019. The Empire of Kush, now the Sudan, ruled over Egypt for100 years beginning in 744 BC. — this program delves into the forgotten story of these Nubian pharaohs. (www.sciencechannel.com)