The look of joy on my children’s faces as they watched the huge tree light up and fireworks go off. The tears that welled up in my eyes as my older son ran to Santa to give him a hug because he couldn’t contain his excitement any longer. The letters we wrote to Santa, the uncontrollable laughter from my baby as he pet Shivers, these are the memories our whole family will cherish with each year. I can’t say enough about how kid friendly and tradition-heavy the Princess has been for our family. On the drive over to the tree lighting this year, my son was bringing up his memories from the years prior. The one thing that stuck with him was the s’mores, he couldn’t wait for more s’mores! This year he was thrilled to see there was even more things to do than last year! Thank you to everyone at the Princess for having us as your guest on many occasions, you may never know how much it means to each of us.
For those of you that missed the tree lighting, you have plenty of time to enjoy all the festivities they have to offer. So gather up your friends and family and head on over to enjoy some fun!
As one of the best and brightest places to celebrate the holiday season, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is set to be more spectacular than ever. This AAA Five Diamond resort transforms into a winter wonderland in the desert during its annual Christmas at the Princess festival, November 22, 2016 – January 1, 2017, glistening with a four-story musical tree, Desert Ice Rink, Princess Express Trains, Lagoon Lights, plus new holiday characters, shows and attractions including Santa’s Secret Headquarters. Here are highlights of the six-week celebration:
· New Holiday Characters
New holiday friends checking-in to the resort are the lovely Princess Angelica, a huggable yeti named Shivers and the lovable, squishable Graham, a walking s’more. All will join the resort’s other Christmas characters Peppermint Penguin, Selfie Elfie and Princess Noel, each bringing their own special charm from the North Pole.
· New Animated “Twas the Night Before Christmas” Video Show
A new high-definition animated video show tells the story of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” projected against the resort’s façade. This five-minute show plays on the hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly in the Enchanted Plaza.
· New Santa’s Secret Headquarters
Santa spends time in his new Secret Headquarters mapping his flight plans, time zones and toys, where the young and young-at-heart can have their photo taken with him nightly throughout the season. With Santa’s busy schedule, appointments for photos are recommended and can be made online. Various photo packages are available.
· New Paw-sitively Christmas – November 27 & December 11
Guests can bring their pets to Santa’s Secret Headquarters to have their photo taken with Santa from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. and appointments are available online. Here, Bixby & Gibbs, the resort’s canine ambassadors will be releasing their first book “The Golden Friends of Fairmont: The Adventures of Bixby & Gibbs” with a reading by the author Carole Gurule and paw-tographs by the pups.
· New Santa Cares Photo Experience – December 4
Santa’s Secret Headquarters welcomes children with all spectrums of special needs to a photo environment supportive of their sensory, physical and developmental needs. The event will take place prior to public hours from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., in a comforting, physically accommodating setting designed to lessen behavioral triggers associated with this bustling time of year. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made online. With the purchase of a photo package, the family also receives four complimentary photo greeting cards.
· New at S’mores Land – Polar Glide Ice Slide
At S’mores Land, families can visit the s’mores-loving character Graham in his new home, roast marshmallows around the campfire, take an icy slide down the Polar Glide take a whirl on the Christmas Carousel.
· Enchanted Plaza Musical Tree
Specially-designed for the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the resort’s Christmas tree has 70,000 LED lights that “twinkle and dance” to 17 new holiday songs in Princess Plaza, appropriately named Enchanted Plaza for the holidays. The musical tree plays from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. nightly throughout the season while the lit palm trees lining the plaza are synchronized to complement the tree’s music. During the day, this stunning four-story tree is a visual experience, with dozens of glistening snowflakes and a five-foot snowflake tree topper.
· Desert Ice Skating Rink
Made with real ice and surrounded by picturesque saguaros, skaters experience magical snowfalls in the warmth of Arizona. The 6,000 square-foot rink is open to the public nightly throughout the festival. The price is $20 per person and $5 for skate rental.
For the ultimate experience, luxury rink-side fire pit tables with s’mores and blankets are available for evening sessions and include valet parking. For reservations and price information, please call (480) 513-6014 or email SCP.MagicMemories@Fairmont.com.
· Lagoon Lights
With the addition of 800,000 lights this season, the resort shines with 3 million LEDs. Visitors enter the festivities through a 17-foot long infinity tunnel with ever-changing colors from special RGB LED bulbs, capable of 256 million color combinations. They can then stroll or ride the Princess Express Train through the majestic Lagoon Lights, a lit fantasy land to see graceful swans floating on the water, a buccaneer pirate ship, a whale, mermaid, Nessie the 30-foot Loch Ness Monster, 14-foot poinsettias, rocking horse, a candy cane forest and more.
Throughout the resort, 200 trees are wrapped in lights, many draped with icicles and snowflakes. Visitors will also see a 20-foot snowman, elves peeking around trees, a giant walk-through ornament as well as families of singing trees, singing snowmen and singing reindeer.
Guests will also see glowing butterflies and hibiscus in Ironwood Circle near the Sonoran Landing Pool and lit reindeer on the forest lawn by Bourbon Steak.
· Princess Express Trains
Guests may board a Princess Express Train nightly for a ride around the Lagoon Lights. The resort now has two trains and the depot is located near La Hacienda Trellis. Overnight hotel guests receive an express boarding pass and non-hotel guests require general festival wristbands to ride.
· Nativity Garden Light Show
The resort’s Fragrance Garden becomes the Nativity Garden, where an 88-foot-long narrated Nativity light and music show tells the story of Christmas. Seating is provided for the 10-minute program. Shows begin at 5 p.m. and occur every 10 minutes until 9 p.m., nightly throughout the festival.
· Menorah Lighting
A nightly menorah lighting with latkes and applesauce takes place in the resort lobby through Hanukkah, 5:30 p.m., December 24, 2016 – January 1, 2017. To celebrate, the Lagoon Lights also features a 25-foot menorah, a 4-foot dreidel and 4-foot gelt.
· The Ice Den Scottsdale Presents “Magical Moments on Ice”
Guests will enjoy watching skaters of all ages from the Ice Den showcasing their talents to holiday music at the Princess’ Desert Ice Rink. The shows feature members of the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona who compete from regional to international levels. The performances are choreographed by the Ice Den skating staff and are sanctioned by the Coyotes Skating Club and U.S. Figure Skating. Shows are the evenings of November 22 & 29 and December 5, 6, 12 & 13, 2016.
· Arizona Coyotes Fan Nights at Desert Ice
For hockey fans, the Arizona Coyotes’ mascot Howler and the team’s Paw Patrol mix and mingle with skaters on select evenings at Desert Ice throughout the Christmas at the Princess season. Please visit the resort’s website for dates
· Memorable Dining Experiences
Memorable dining experiences range from Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak (where kids 12 and under eat free) to Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar and La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval, with special seasonal menus, Thanksgiving and Christmas ballroom brunches and New Year’s Eve festivities.
· Breakfast with Santa & Friends – December 10
Not to miss is a wonderful and whimsical pajama party breakfast with Santa and his Fairmont friends Princesses Noel and Angelica, Peppermint Penguin, Shivers the Yeti, Selfie Elfie and Graham the s’more, plus DJ Jingle, reindeer games, photos with Santa, a special daytime skating session and access to S’mores Land is available for breakfast attendees. $60 Adults; $45 Children ages 3-12; Children two and under eat free. Reservations are required.
· Kringle’s Korner & Holiday Shopping
The Christmas Shoppe at Kringle’s Korner is a charming boutique offering wintery wear such as hats, scarves, mittens and pajamas, along with seasonal décor, hand-painted collectible ornaments, keepsake snow globes, Princess Express train whistles, blinking novelty items, Selfie Elfie and Elf on the Shelf toys and gourmet chocolates. The resort is the perfect place for holiday shopping with unique items in the men’s Maverick store, Anna J women’s boutique or health and beauty items at Well & Being Spa’s Community Market. Complimentary gift wrapping is available on orders of $200 or more.
· Let It Glow at Well & Being Spa
Sparkling at the spa, holiday pampering includes Mistle-Toe Pedicures, Peppermint Manicures, Hot Toddy for the Body treatments and creating customized moisturizers and scrubs at the Sugar ‘n’ Spice Aromatherapy Blending Bar. Spa-goers can spend the day relaxing with full use of the facilities, including the exercise classes, steam room, Swiss shower, whirlpool rooftop pool and waterfall grotto.
· Toy Donation Drop-Off
The tree lighting ceremony kicks off Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ toy drive for Child Crisis Arizona. The resort is a drop-off location November 22 – December 20, 2016. Anyone wishing to make a donation can pull right up to the front drive/porte-cochere, where a bellman is happy to assist.
· Admission & Parking
Christmas at the Princess is open to the public. General admission is complimentary for hotel guests who also receive express VIP access to the rides and attractions. General admission/parking for non-hotel guests is $35 for self-parking for up to six people and $55 for valet after 4 p.m. without dining. Valet/general admission is complimentary when dining at any of the resort restaurants(Bourbon Steak, La Hacienda, Ironwood American Kitchen or Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar) with a $75 spend. General admission includes access to Enchanted Plaza with the four-story musical tree, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” video show, a walk-through experience of 3 million Lagoon Lights and the Nativity Garden. To ride all of the attractions including the PrincessExpress Trains, Polar Glide and the Christmas Carousel require a $10 wristband per person (or discounted to $5 with a parking voucher). Skating, photos with Santa, shopping, dining and spa are priced separately
· Season of Giving Package Benefiting Cox Charities/Child Crisis Arizona
The Season of Giving package includes overnight accommodations with a $50 daily resort credit and express VIP access to the rides. The best part is $10 from each package will benefit the Child Crisis Arizona through Cox Charities. Prices start from $199 per room, per night, plus taxes and a $30 resort fee.
Other popular holiday vacation packages include the Sip, Savor & Celebrate with a $100 daily resort credit starting from $219 per room, per night and the Family Celebration package, starts from $229 with 50 percent off a second room. All packages are subject to availability.
For more information on “Christmas at the Princess,” please call (480) 585-4848, toll-free (866) 540-4495 or visit scottsdaleprincess.com. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is located at 7575 East Princess Drive in Scottsdale.