Art Meripol, Scott Wiseman
Thanksgiving: It's the day to count your blessings and express your gratitude. It's also a wonderful opportunity to escape the norm (or cousin Norm) and get the heck out of town. Instead of going "over the river and through the woods," take a trip to a glorious Southern resort that offers a special splurge for the season. We guarantee a memorable holiday.
Visit This Beachfront Legend
When a guest turns into the long driveway that leads to The Breakers, shoulders relax, and a smile starts. This anticipatory feeling of ease and fun is only the beginning. The relaxation process that captures a visitor at The Breakers―the oceanside gem of Palm Beach, Florida―works like a gentle massage. A total of 140 acres await the person hopeful for a luxurious yet comfortable holiday. And no matter which way the weary wayfarer turns, there's something different to see, do, and enjoy.
Five pools, 5 acres of newly developed beachfront, 20 new poolside bungalows, a spa, and golf galore fill the hours during much-cherished vacations.
Weekly activities for families make this spot a favorite for returning guests. A Thanksgiving Day buffet covers the main holiday need, but there's so much more. Entertainment in The Tapestry Bar and live music on the weekends in The Beach Club add to the jovial atmosphere. "Visitors create their own experiences here," says one employee. "We don't have a cookie-cutter package."
It's easy to make choices, opting for any of eight different restaurants. The Seafood Bar features an aquarium bar and a view of the ocean. The stunning Circle Room offers soaring 30-foot frescoed ceilings and serves up delectable breakfasts and Sunday brunch. A free shuttle ride away, an Asian restaurant, Echo, mesmerizes the palate with some of the freshest seafood available, not to mention steamed edamame (as addictive as freshly boiled peanuts).
Others find their holiday fun in the full-service spa or on the golf course. "You don't have to step a sandal off the property," says the concierge. "You have golf and The Spa. The course has children's lessons. And the 6,160-square-foot family entertainment center has games, movies, and its own Italian restaurant." By the way, children under 16 stay for free.
Need some retail therapy? Go shopping at Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Steuben Glass, and Piaget, to name just a few of the boutiques on-site. Every Tuesday afternoon, the resident historian, Mr. Ponce, expounds on the lore of The Breakers, with its several species of plants and animals, 15th-century tapestries, and stunning Italian Renaissance architecture.
The Breakers may be 111 years old, but it thinks fresh. For instance, you can skip the traditional turkey, and dine alfresco in the warm ocean breeze, indulging in just-caught mahi mahi, fresh lemonade, a view of the Atlantic, and a slice of Key lime pie (its recipe dates back 100 years). Basking in this place's glow inspires a happy prayer of thanksgiving at any age.
The Breakers: www.thebreakers.com or  655-6611.
Rates: Start at $399.
Two More Fabulous Spots
Keswick Hall, Club, & Estate
Every wish list should include a request for a special holiday escape. This list-topper sits at the heart of a 600-acre country estate just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.
Happy visitors can hole up in the library with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. They also may choose a facial or a massage in the resort's spa. There's a heated outdoor pool for the daring. The concierge can book other pursuits from sporting clays to a walk with the hounds, hosted by the Keswick Hunt Club's Master of the Foxhounds.
"Keswick Hall is spectacular year-round," says general manager Tony McHale, "but it's magical in winter."
No truer words were ever spoken.
Keswick Hall, Club, & Estate: www.keswick.com, 1-800-274-5391, or  979-3440. Rates: start at $295.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek
Opulence. Magnificence. That's what you get when you visit this hotel―a premier spot in Dallas.
Built in 1925 as the residence of a cotton magnate, the restored hotel still feels much like a home, a very sophisticated and lavish home. From top to bottom, The Mansion personifies style and grace.
On Thanksgiving Day, visitors enjoy a feast in The Mansion Restaurant. Diners can choose to eat either in the main restaurant area for $75 per person (three courses) or in the 22-seat Chef's Room for $120 per person (six courses). While each meal includes the traditional fare, guests also find surprises such as a chestnut soufflé and Nantucket bay scallops.
"Everyone is treated like a movie star," says Hugo Reynoso, a 15-year veteran at The Mansion Restaurant. "There are no autographs here, no matter how famous you are." Still, we imagine you'll feel as special as a celebrity during your stay.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek, A Rosewood Hotel: www.mansiononturtlecreek.com or 559-2100. Rates: start at $525.