How does a snowy Christmas in crisp country air sound? While those days are hard to find in Texas, you can find it in abundance at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. They have made Christmas their signature season!
The grand, expansive resort is filled with huge poinsettias, Christmas trees and decorations are everywhere and on weekends, the spirit of the season springs alive with special events like hay rides, brunch with St. Nicholas and his reindeer and cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus. Many have made vacations here an annual tradition and you will see families dressed to the hilt, posing for happy portraits or sitting on the knee of one special bearded, jolly old man. Guests come from hundreds of miles to browse the annual Old World Christmas Market while marveling at shining trinkets and hand-crafted treasures, taking a ride on a horse-drawn wagon through the snow or enjoying the delights of the fantastic Aspira Spa. At The Osthoff – the holidays come alive.
The Osthoff Resort
You’ll find The Osthoff Resort perched along the shores of the shimmering, crystal-clear Elkhart Lake. This AAA Four Diamond resort has all the amenities a guest could want – fine dining, a world-class spa, conference center, ballrooms, meeting rooms and more. Named by Travel and Leisure as one of the World’s Best Hotels, The Osthoff Resort provides the perfect escape for those looking for a relaxing retreat.
Old World Christmas Market
Dec. 4-13. Patterned after the German tradition, Christkindlesmarkt of Nuremberg, the Old World Christmas Market lasts for 10 consecutive days. Guests to the market will find both international and regional artisans selling their wares. Expect Czech blown-glass ornaments, hand-carved German goods like nutcrackers, Russian nesting dolls, fine chocolates, furs and more. Once shoppers have worked up an appetite, they can stop by the Old World Food Court to sample traditional German fare; Nuremberg bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, potato pancakes and apple strudel. Don’t be surprised if Old Saint Nick makes an appearance as you weave your way through evergreen scented aisles! For a full schedule of events and dates, visit christmasmarketatosthoff.com.
L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School
Breakfast with Santa
Dec. 5, 12 and 19. Santa and Mrs. Claus are the stars of breakfast with the kids. There is a special knee-high buffet and a candy bar filled with truly delectable and gorgeous candies and desserts. There will be caroling, cookie-decorating and ornament-making activities for all. Santa will even be handing out special gifts to those in attendance.
St. Nicholas Reindeer Brunch
Dec. 6 and 13. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind experience as St. Nicholas and his reindeer make their way to The Osthoff for a magical holiday brunch. Real live reindeer will be on site – enchanting! Cost is $24.95 per adult and $1 per year of the child’s age.
Christmas Hay Ride
Dec. 5, 12 and 19. Sip on hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols as you soak up the spirit of Christmas on a horse-drawn wagon ride through the snow. Rides will be offered four times daily. Rides are $12 per person, plus tax.
Dec. 24. Guests who plan on staying for Christmas Eve can partake in a variety of family-friendly festivities. Afternoon hayrides, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies will be made available to guests on Christmas Eve. And don’t forget to add your name to Santa’s list; he’ll leave a stocking full of surprises for you on Christmas morning. Activities are complimentary for guests but reservations are required.
Dec. 25. Youngsters will wake up Christmas Day morning to find a stocking full of treats, games and a special gift from the jolly old elf! The sumptuous Christmas Day Brunch Buffet is a wonderful time spent in the company of family and friends.
Meaning 'infused with spirit,' Aspira was born on the banks of a lake considered sacred by the Native Americans who lived there. Shaped like an elk's heart, the lake bestows its powerful natural energy upon all who encounter it. Aspira Spa is a large facility with remarkable décor. The meditation sanctuary is lovely. You can reserve a spa suite, complete with its own fireplace, if you prefer more space. There is a spa studio for classes and don't miss the spa boutique where I found some great and unusual gifts.
The Osthoff’s onsite restaurant, Otto’s, serves a full menu of American cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menu items include salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and entrees like their Garlic Crusted Walleye and Grilled Angus New York Strip.
Lola's On the Lake
Lola's is fantastic. It is elegant, beautiful, tasteful and the service knowledgeable and classic. There is a lounge and lunch, dinner and dessert menus. Classic, well prepared food. A great experience.
Lake Street Café
Lake Street Café can be found not far from The Osthoff and offers an extensive wine list and a variety of menu items crafted from scratch using fresh ingredients. On the menu you will find wood-fired pizzas, grilled salmon, lobster bisque and more. Their bread and desserts are all baked in house. Meals can be altered to be made vegan or gluten free. This is THE spot in town and a lot of fun!
Elkhart Lake is about one hour north of Milwaukee. For a complete list of all the dining, accommodation, spa and activity choices at the Osthoff, visit osthoff.com.