The Midwest is the setting for some of the most iconic holiday movies of all time, such as A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and even National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and when it comes to the holidays, there is a resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that offers one of the grandest celebrations in the Midwest, grand enough for any holiday movie buff.
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, WI is one of the Midwest’s top vacation destinations for holiday fun with its annual Christmas in the Country experience. A six week celebration, this cherished holiday resort tradition features over-the-top holiday décor, private igloo dining, breakfasts with Santa, a heated Trolley Tour of Lights, the option to have a decorated Christmas tree in your hotel room, and new this year, a jumbo gingerbread display of its beautiful ski hill. In addition, the city of Lake Geneva is full of holiday charm and programming, with wonderful Midwest holiday hospitality.
Here is a rundown of what is on Santa’s list at Grand Geneva this year (and yes, you can catch him swimming and skiing at the resort if you’re lucky):
Grand Geneva officially kicks off the season with its annual Illumination Ceremony on November 19, 2023, where the resort literally flips the switch to start the season, with over-the-top holiday displays, lights, animated designs, grand Christmas trees, and plenty of photo opportunities to capture the holiday cheer. Now in its 29th year, the Illumination Ceremony will feature activities for kids, holiday cookies, hot apple cider, a dazzling fireworks display, and an appearance from the big guy himself, Santa Claus! Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped, new toy for local children. The event will support Walworth County Deputy Sheriff Department and its Toys for Kids program.
There’s a tree in the grand hotel, and one in your room as well: For a modest extra charge, guests can have the resort’s holiday elves add a little magic to their stay at Grand Geneva or its on-site sister property, Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, by adding a holiday tree to their room. Travelers will enjoy a fully decorated tree in their guestroom upon arrival, complete with ornaments, ribbon topper and an ornament to cherish at home (take-home ornament available at Grand Geneva only). It’s all the Christmas cheer with none of the cleanup!
Trolley Tour of Lights: For some traditional holiday fun, visitors can hop aboard the heated and enclosed Grand Geneva trolley for a tour around the resort’s dazzling light displays and decorations, including the beloved 12 Days of Christmas animated display. For those who miss the trolley, visitors can take their own car down Grand Geneva Way, starting at Hwy 50.
An Igloo Experience: Baby, it’s cold outside but cozy inside one of Grand Geneva’s igloos. Offered at the resort’s Embers Terrace, visitors can reserve a private igloo for festive dining, holiday drinks, and gathering with friends and family. This fun winter experience is available for up to 6 guests for a 90-min reservation.
Brunch with the Big Guy: Grand Geneva’s Brunch with Santa will take place on select dates in November and December. Designed for children, families enjoy brunch served tableside.
Santa Mail: Speaking of the big guy, guests and visitors may take advantage of Grand Geneva’s magical mailbox and drop off letters to Santa Claus. Located in the resort’s main lobby, Santa’s helpers collect the mail daily at 3pm to mail it to the North Pole. The best part? Santa takes time out of his busy schedule to send a message back.
Gingerbread House Walk: Area residents, in amateur, professional, adult and child categories, display their sugary masterpieces beginning November 19 through the holidays, creating a Gingerbread House Walk on the upper level in the resort’s Ristorante Brissago foyer. Judges from United Way of Walworth County and Grand Geneva will award cash prizes for the top three overall winners in five different age groups. New this year: The resort will feature its very own over-the-top Gingerbread display of its Ski Chalet on a 3×3 ft board. The sugary sweet ski display is made with 50+ lbs. of flour, 3 gallons of molasses, 6 dozen eggs, 12 lbs. of butter, 20 lbs. of brown sugar, and lots of colorful candy.
Where Santa Goes to Splash & Swim: Grand Geneva’s resort campus is also home to sister-property Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. This all-suite resort features rooms with kitchens and extra space, plus its very own indoor waterpark where it is always a warm 86 degrees. A perfect holiday escape for families, the resort also offers Breakfast with Santa, plus holiday hotel package deals. Santa has previously been spotted taking a swim at Timber Ridge, and on December 22 and 23, he will be taking a relaxing break and greeting guests in his very own Santa cabana in Timber Ridge’s Moose Mountain Falls.
Grand Geneva’s The Mountain Top is one of the country’s top family-friendly ski hills and is the perfect ski and snowboard hill for beginners, The Mountain Top is slated to open for the season on December 16. It is also one of Santa’s favorite slopes, and he is slated to make an appearance at the ski chalet a few times this holiday season!
In case the weather outside is frightful, there are plenty of other delightful family-friendly activities to enjoy, including holiday movie nights, ornament painting, gingerbread house decorating, and other fun holiday crafting and games.
Source: Grand Geneva Resort & Spa