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Destination Of The Week: The Best Cities To Celebrate Halloween

by on October 11, 2013 · 7 comments

in Destination of the Week, TPG Contributors

For today’s Destination of the Week, we are getting into the spooky spirit of the season and instead of giving you a rundown of a single destination for mileage runs and points-specific hotels, we’re getting spooky and taking a tour of some of the most ghoulish Halloween festivities around.

Pumpkins HalloweenWhether child-friendly trick-or-treating or elaborate costumes are you thing, here is a rundown of some of the best places both in the US and around the world to celebrate the year’s scariest holiday!

CHICAGO

Get into the Halloween Spirit with a 5k Zombie Run.

Get into the Halloween Spirit with a 5K Zombie Run.

Chicago is a fantastic city to spend your Halloween, regardless of age. For kids, find all of the pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the Chicago area at Pumpkin Patches and More. Teens will love Six Flags Annual Fright Fest, featuring scary rides, haunted houses, and various creepy shows. Adults can sign up for the Running Dead, a zombie 5K run through Chicago on October 26, followed by an after-party zombie prom. Chicago’s Daley Plaza turns into “Franken Plaza” for “Chicagoween,” which features a variety of events from October 25-27 this year, like free hayrides, a midnight circus, treat or treating and a “Wicked” singalong, as well as several spooky musical, theatrical and cinema events. For a full listing of adult Halloween activities, including Halloween pub crawls, pumpkin carving parties, Halloween fashion shows, costume contests and pretty much every Halloween party thrown by a bar or nightclub in Chicago, check out Chicago Metro Mix. For a full hotel listing of points hotels in Chicago, check out our Destination of the Week on the city, but here are a couple of our favorite picks.

Radisson Blu Chicago Guestroom

A guestroom at the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago.

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago: Opened just last November, this hotel is located on the first 18 floors of the 81-story Aqua tower and has 334 luxury guestrooms with flatscreen TVs and balconies. They also offer business-class rooms with access to the Business Class lounge on the 17th floor offering complimentary breakfast and an evening reception. There are indoor and outdoor pools, a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, fitness center, and game room in addition to an outdoor terrace. The hotel’s restaurant, Filini, features modern Italian cuisine.  Room rates start at $197 on October 31st.  This is a Category 6 hotel requiring 50,000 points for an award night.

Park Hyatt Chicago Guestroom.

The Park Hyatt Chicago.

Park Hyatt Chicago: This hotel has 198 guestrooms including 13 suites. The rooms have 32-inch flatscreen TVs, iHome alarm clocks, walk-in showers, and marble bathrooms. There is a 7,000-square-foot health club and full-service NoMI Spa as well as a 25-yard pool and whirlpool. There are window seats in the rooms to take in the lake or city views.  The hotel’s upscale restaurant is the NoMI Kitchen, serving contemporary American cuisine with French influences.  Complimentary bike rental is available in 3 hour increments, helmet and lock included. Room rates start at $390 on October 31st for a Park King Room. This is a Category 6 hotel, so an award night redemption requiring 22,000 points for an award night.

LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas has some of the best Hallween parties in the world!

If you love to party, Las Vegas is the place to be for Halloween!

Vegas is an adult party Mecca for Halloween. If shows are your thing, there are several to choose from, like Evil Dead the Musical and various Cirque de Soliel creepy shows. On Saturday, October 26, Las Vegas’s most popular Halloween Party, the Fetish & Fantasy Ball, will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel. If you are looking for a great party, check out the full list at nightclubs and hotels along the strip. Visit the Blood Village if haunted houses are your thing, or if you are going as a family, there is a Halloween parade and costume contest on October 31st, which is child friendly.  Of course, in Las Vegas, there are so many hotel options, so a good idea would be to plan your hotel around where your party or event is at for less hassle.

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

The Cosmopolitan: One of Las Vegas’s newest properties, the Cosmopolitan strives for luxury and contemporary sophistication. The spacious rooms start at 460 square feet and include marble-floored bathrooms; many provide private terraces. Grab a drink at one of the five hotel bars, then indulge in one of the thirteen restaurants on property, including The Wicked Spoon buffet. With an extensive spa, salon, sports bar, casino, shopping, and three separate pool areas, you may find little need to venture off the premises. When you do, the hotel’s prime location (just south of the Bellagio on Las Vegas Boulevard) offers easy access to all strip attractions. Rates start at $250 on October 31st (these rates do not include the mandatory resort fee of $25/night). As a Category 8 property, Marriott Rewards members would need to redeem 40,000 points for an award night.

For more hotel ideas, read the Destination of the Week: Vegas post.

LOS ANGELES

Halloween in West Hollywood attracts up to 500,000 revelers.

Halloween in West Hollywood attracts up to 500,000 revelers.

West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnival is one of the biggest and most flamboyant in America, where as many as 500,000 revelers in the craziest and most eccentric costumes fill the streets on October 31 to enjoy live entertainment, food vendors, and most of all – people-watching! Spanning over a mile, it is reportedly the largest street party in the country and stretches down Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard on the East, to Doheny and the Beverly Hills border on the West. Some of the many colorful highlights of the night are the Halloween Costume contest and crowning of the Honorary “Queen of the Carnaval.” The theme of this year’s party is One Noir Night in West Hollywood and it will  feature 6 stages and 50 performers. While the carnival is easy to find, parking can be notoriously difficult and expensive (up to $20), but there are shuttle services from nearby spots. Admission is free and the official parade runs from 6-11pm but the celebrations in neighboring bars and clubs go on way beyond that. For more information, go to the Visit West Hollywood website. If you want to get off the streets and experience a theme park, Universal Studios has a feast of attractions for their Halloween Horror Nights, including a homage to AMC’s The Walking Dead, and tickets start at $69.

Andaz West Hollywood

The Andaz West Hollywood is in the middle of the Sunset Strip.

Andaz West Hollywood: Located on Sunset Boulevard, this hip hotel has 257 rooms, each with complimentary WiFi, Frette bathrobes, a flatscreen TV, iPod docking station and a Custom Sealy Posturpedic bed. The hotel hosts the Andaz Art Seen, which features installations and eclectic collections that capture the spirit of the Sunset Strip. There is also a pool, spa and fitness center, and dining and drinks are provided at the RH restaurant and RH bar, or the sundeck. Room rates start at $309 per night for October 31. This is a Category 4 hotel requiring 15,000 Hyatt gold points for an award night.

SLS Beverly Hills

The cabana-lined pool at the SLS Beverly Hills.

SLS Hotel Beverly Hills: Just a short distance from the heart of the West Hollywood party scene, this trendy hotel designed by Philippe Starck has 297 rooms each featuring a flatscreen TV, iPod docking station, rainforest shower and freestanding bathtub. The property is also home to a state-of-the-art fitness center, the Ciel Spa & Robert Vetica Salon, and the Altitude pool deck with cabanas and a wet bar. Highly-acclaimed restaurants include The Bazaar by José Andrés and Tres. Room rates start at $359 per night for October 31. This is a Category 6 requiring 20,000 Starpoints for an award night.

For more on the SLS, read my post, Starwood Year In Review.

Sheraton Universal

The Sheraton Universal Hotel is close to Universal Studios.

Sheraton Universal Hotel: This 451-room hotel is conveniently located for visits to Universal Studios or close to the freeway for adventures around the rest of Los Angeles. Rooms feature the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, Shine by Bliss bath products, a coffee and tea maker, a flatscreen TV and WiFi for a fee. There is a Sheraton Fitness Center, outdoor pool, jacuzzi, and business center, along with three dining options. Room rates start at $199 per night for October 31. This is a Category 4 hotel requiring 10,000 Starpoints for an award night.

Other hotels near to Universal Studios include Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and the Holiday Inn Universal Studios-Hollywood.

LOUISVILLE

Louisville Zoo hosts the "sweetest Halloween party."

Louisville Zoo hosts the “sweetest Halloween party.”

While the Kentucky Derby is all about horse racing and Mint Juleps, Halloween in Louisville is a family affair. Dubbed “the sweetest party in town,” Louisville Zoo holds an annual Halloween celebration focused on fun for little ones, where children can dress up in costumes, wander through Pumpkinville, USA – a hay maze of lit-up pumpkins – stroll through Sleepy Hollow to see the mysterious Headless Horseman, or take photos with T-Rex. For those wanting a more adult experience, there are a number of haunted houses in town, as well as the Dead End Hotel and the Nightmare Forest Haunt Park, which has spooky trails winding through Otter Creek and is premiering Hawthornes Circus Bizarre this year.

Hilton Louisville

The Seelbach Hilton in Louisville.

Seelbach Hilton: This 107-year-old hotel is located in the heart of downtown Louisville and has 321 rooms and plenty of Southern charm. Rooms feature antique reproductions, four-poster beds, marble bathrooms, a flatscreen TV, WiFi access and a clock radio with MP3 connection.  A 1920s-style coffee shop called Otto’s Café serves southern-style breakfast, or the Old Seelbach Bar features live music and a world-class whiskey collection. There is also a fitness center and large meeting space. Room rates at the end of October start at $169, but October 31 is not currently available. This is a Category 8 hotel requiring 40,000 HHonors points for an award night.

Exterior of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Exterior of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Hyatt Regency Louisville: Undergoing a massive makeover, this 393-room hotel has a newly renovated Regency Ballroom, a revolving roof top called Spire, and 20,600 square feet of function space. The rooms have city and river views and feature iHome stereo with iPod® docking station, WiFi for a fee of $9.95 per day, a flatscreen TV, and granite bath with deluxe Portico bath products. The hotel has ample exercise opportunities thanks to the in-room YogaAway, an outdoor tennis court, indoor pool and fitness center. Room rates start $319 per night for October 31. This is a Category 3 hotel requiring 12,000 points for an award night.

NEW ORLEANS

Floats are extravagantly spooky at the Krewe or Boo Halloween Parade in New Orleans.

Floats are extravagantly spooky at the Krewe or Boo Halloween Parade in New Orleans.

Halloween in New Orleans is a historical experience. Known as “The Most Haunted City in America,” the city’s collection of Voodoo shops and daily ghost tours already makes it a spooky destination not just during Halloween, but year-round. For kids, try Boo at the Zoo, which features kids contests, games and haunted houses at the zoo, or Crawloween, at the Audubon Nature Institute ($3 off admission if your child arrives in a bug costume!). Visit New Orleans official Halloween Parade, the Krewe of Boo or have a cocktail at one of New Orleans Haunted Bars. If Halloween in New Orleans hasn’t completely worn you out, stay on for the Voodoo Music Festival, which runs November 1-3 this year. When deciding on hotel, the Roosevelt New Orleans is a beautiful, historic property, among many others to choose from.

The historical Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel.

The historical Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel.

The Roosevelt New Orleans: This property features 504 rooms, including 125 luxury suites and PURE allergy-friendly rooms. Guests can enjoy live music in the Blue Room, once frequented by Frank Sinatra, or relax on the rooftop bar. Restaurant options include fine dining at Sazerac, or more casual Italian fare at Domenica. Their Guerlain Spa, one of only three locations in the U.S. designated to carry the French cosmetics brand’s name, includes a Couples Suite. This is a Waldorf Astoria property. Rates on October 31st start at $349 and an award night requires 70,000 HHonors points.

TPG  recommends the Ritz Carlton New Orleans, and the Renaissance Hotel, Windsor Court Hotel, and Country Inn New Orleans as more great Marriott options for your stay.

NEW YORK CITY

The West Village Halloween Parade in NYC is one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the world!

The West Village Halloween Parade in NYC is one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the world!

This year will be a special year for New Yorkers at Halloween. Last year, the beloved New York Halloween Parade was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. This year, the 40th Annual Village Halloween Parade will be bigger and better than ever to make up for it. The parade route runs up 6th Avenue between Spring and 16th Street and will begin at 7 pm and end around 11 pm. If you want to party after the parade, Webster Hall puts on one of the biggest Halloween parties in the city. For a full list of Halloween parties in the city, check out JoonBug, where you can also buy tickets ahead of time. If you are looking for more family style events, here are 34 different ways to celebrate Halloween with kids in NYC and the surrounding areas.

If you will be attending the parade, the obvious location choice for hotel would be downtown, and here is one TPG recommends close to the parade route.

Bathroom with a view at the Standard High Line

Bathroom with a view at the Standard High Line.

The Standard Highline Hotel: This Visa Signature Hotel overlooks the beautiful High Line Park, and has 337 rooms, four of which are suites. This uber- trendy hotel is part of André Balazs’ Standard hotels collection, and features amenities like Kiss my Face toiletries and complimentary WiFi. In-room spa services are available, and there is also a large gym, several meeting rooms, a German bier garden, the Standard Grill Restaurant, and a nightclub called the Living Room. Room rates start at $537 on October 31st. Check out TPG Managing Editor Eric Rosen’s review of the hotel.

SALEM, MASSACHUSSETTS

Salem, MA, is best known for the witch trials of 1692.

Salem, MA, is best known for the witch trials of 1692.

Home of the witch trials that inspired Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” Salem makes the most of its dark history especially at Halloween and has had an official Haunted Happenings celebration during the October tourist season since the 1990s. Supernatural activities include a Ghosts And Legends Trolley Tour for $22 or $15 for children, or the Gallows Hill interactive show performed in a darkened theater. If you want to learn more about Salem’s notorious past, check out the candle-lit Witch Trial Trail, which has been running since 1983 and is led by historian and author Jim McAllister, who explores the sites and story of the 1692 witch trials. Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for children 7-17, under 7 free.

Salem is only 16 miles north of Boston, and you can get there by car, bus, train or ferry, although that only runs from June 24-October 31. There are many hotel options on Beantown, but here are some of our favorites.

Library at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Financial District.

Library at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Financial District.

Hilton Downtown/Financial District: Primarily of interest to business travelers, this hotel is in the heart of downtown Boston, about a block from the waterfront, and about a mile from the Convention Center. Rooms here have king or double beds, large work desks with ergonomic chairs, 42-inch flatscreens, high ceilings with crown moldings and marble bathrooms. The signature restaurant is the newly redone Nix Mate (part of it was built from reclaimed wood from the Boston Pier), which serves an all-day menu of modern American dishes. Room rates start at $249 per night for October 31. This is a Category 7 property requiring 50,000 points for an award night.

Exterior of the Hyatt Regency Boston.

Exterior of the Hyatt Regency Boston.

Hyatt Regency Boston: Right in the heart of the financial district, the Hyatt Regency is connected to the huge Macy’s store and is on the same block as a T station, making getting around from here very easy. The hotel has 498 guest rooms including 19 suites, each with Hyatt Grand Beds, 37-inch flatscreen TV’s, iHome clock radios and high-speed internet access. The hotel has a 24-hour fitness center, a heated indoor pool, and can provide spa services upon request. The main restaurant is Avenue One, which has a dining room, bar, lounge and to-go sections. Rooms rate start at $255 per night on October 31. This is a Category 4 property requiring 15,000 points for award nights.

Take a dip in the indoor pool at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

Take a dip in the indoor pool at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

Boston Marriott Copley Place: Centrally located near Boston Common and Newbury Street’s shops, as well as historic sites like Trinity Church, this enormous hotel has 1,101 rooms and 47 suites. It has a pool and whirlpool, and the health club offers massages. Room service is available 24 hours a day and the Concierge Level offers a private lounge. Dining options include the sports bar Champions and the Connexion Lounge, which serves lunch and dinner. Room rates start at $279 per night on October 31. This is a Marriott Rewards Category 8 hotel and requires 40,000 points for an award night.

Exterior of the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel.

Exterior of the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel.

The Westin Copley Place, Boston: This hotel received the AAA 4-Diamond Award and is located in the city’s chic Back Bay area, convenient to Hynes Convention Center and shopping on Newbury Street and at the Copley Mall. It has 803 rooms, 132 junior suites and 10 specialty suites, all of which include the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath. Start the day with breakfast in the Huntington’s sunny dining room or kick things up a notch in the evening with dinner at Osushi or a signature martini at Bar 10, voted one of the city’s best bars by Boston magazine.  Room rates start at $349 per night for October 31. This is a SPG Category 5 property, requiring 12,000 to 16,000 SPG points for an award night.

For more hotel options and information on the city, check out our Destination of the Week: Boston.

TUCSON

A skeleton honoring a deceased loved one at the All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona.

A skeleton honoring a deceased loved one at the All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona.

If you are looking for a different way to spend Halloween this year, Tucson is the spot. The main spooky event in Tucson is not necessarily Halloween, (though since this is a university town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs, in addition to haunted houses, where one can celebrate Halloween). However, the creepiest party in Tucson is actually the All Souls Procession. Being so close to Mexico, Tucson hosts one of the best Day in the Dead celebrations in the United States. Day of the Dead is usually celebrated November 1st, 2nd or 3rd, and it’s tradition lies in celebration and mourning of family and friends who have passed on to another world. Often known as All Saints or All Souls Day, or “Dia de los Muertos” this celebration is common in Spanish speaking countries. This year the All Souls Procession in Tucson will take place at 6 pm on November 3rd, and will involve over 35,000 participants. We recommend the Marriott University Park Hotel since you can walk to and from the parade without having to rent a car or worry about parking.

A beautiful mountain view from a standard guest room at the Marriott University Park in Tucson, AZ.

A mountain view from a standard guest room at the Marriott University Park in Tucson, AZ.

Marriott University Park: This hotel with 233 guestrooms and 17 suites is located just down the street from the University of Arizona. Wifi is free in the lobby area, and parking is $12 per day. There is a full service business center and a fitness center and outdoor pool. The Saguaro Grill Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room rates start at $160 per night on October 31st or November 3rd. This is a Category 5 Marriott hotel requiring 25,000 Marriott Reward Points for an award night.

Other hotel options include the Hilton Conquistador, the Westin La Paloma, and the Lowes Ventana Canyon Resort, but keep in mind you will have to drive to the procession if you stay in any of these hotels. That being said, they are all much closer to outdoor activities like hiking and golfing.

Now time to explore some spooky international destinations where Halloween means a whole lot of horror…and fun!

TRANSYLVANIA

Bran Castle is long-perceived as the home of Dracula.

Bran Castle is long-perceived as the home of Dracula.

Where better to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve than the birthplace of the one of the most notorious characters in history? While Bram Stoker’s Dracula may be fictional, the Halloween celebrations in his home region are very real and focus around the famous bloodsucker. With dozens of castles in Transylvania, it is easy to get into the chilling atmosphere without any over-the-top Halloween decorations or pumpkin carving. A must-see is the towering Bran Castle, which has long-been considered as Dracula’s home and also has associations with Vlad III – or Vlad The Impaler – the real-life inspiration for the famous vampire. First built of wood in 1212, the stone citadels were constructed in 1377 by the Saxons. Located in the Rucăr-Bran passage, on the road connecting Braşov to Câmpulung amidst dramatic landscape, the castle is 3.5 hours by train from Bucharest, for a cost of 10 EUR ($13.60), then it is a short bus or taxi ride away. Admission to the historical house of horrors is 6 EUR ($8.17) and it is open from 9 am-7 pm Tuesday through Sunday, and noon-7 pm on Mondays. There are also a number of vampire-themed tours that you can do in the area, from the literary to extravagant, such as those hosted by Transylvania Live. There are a variety of options, including visiting Sighisoara Medieval Citadel, birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, and Snagov Monastery, where he was assassinated. You can even dine at Casa Vlad Dracul Restaurant in Bistrita, but fortunately for lunch you don’t have to suck any blood.

Hotel Castle Dracula

The Hotel Castle Dracula.

Hotel Castle Dracula: Located in the Borga Pass, this is the place to stay to get the after dark experience when vampires really come out to feast. Rooms range from basic and somewhat sparse doubles with two single beds, to the Mini Harker suite, with a double bed, living room and bathroom. Traditional dining choices of cabbage, beef calf, suckling pork, mutton on the shaft, or marrow bone with bean and polenta with cheese are not for the faint-hearted, but you can wash it down with plum brandy or Dracula’s elixir cocktail. Room rates start at 220 RON ($67) per night in October.

The Aro Palace Hotel in Brasov.

The Aro Palace Hotel in Brasov.

Aro Palace Hotel: Located in nearby Brasov, the largest city in the mountainous area and 24 km from Bran Castle, this 312-room hotel was built in 1939 is the only 5-star property in the historical town. Rooms feature satellite TV, dark wood furnishings, a minibar and a marble bathroom. Facilities include a wellness spa, fitness center and indoor swimming pool. There are six on-site dining and entertaining options, the flagship of which is the Belvedere Restaurant, and you can top off your meal with a nightcap at the Aro-Palace Night Bar. Room rates start at 90 EUR ($122) per night on October 31.

There are also four other hotels in Brasov in the same chain, the Capitol Hotel, the Coroana, the Postavarul and the Aro Sport Hotel.

DUBLIN

The Hellfire Club is one of the many creepy spots you will visit on a Dublin ghost tour.

The Hellfire Club is one of the many creepy spots you will visit on a Dublin ghost tour.

Ireland’s capital city isn’t just a destination for St. Patrick’s Day – there is lots to do on Halloween, too, thanks to its rich history and its claim to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. Discover Dublin’s grisly past on foot with a Haunted History Walking Tour from Hidden Dublin, which takes you through the cobbled streets while telling tales of ghosts, witches and the mysterious 18th century Hellfire Club or Lord Norbury, the infamous and sadistic ‘Hanging Judge.’ Tours take 1.5-2 hours and cost 13 EUR ($18). With the Dracula author having hailed from Dublin, the city also celebrates his legacy with the Bram Stoker Festival, which runs from October 26-28, 2013, and features a vampire hunt, literary readings, Dracula-inspired film screenings, Gothic readings in the cathedral, and even a chance to meet real vampire bats. There are plenty of hotels in the city center, and here are a few of our favorites.

A business class room at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.

A business class room at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel: This hotel has 150 rooms including 12 suites and is located near Trinity College and Grafton Street— basically in the center of where you want to be. Rooms have flatscreen televisions and the bathrooms have separate bath and rain showers. The hotel’s main restaurant, Verres en Vers features French-style cuisine and there is a rooftop terrace with bar and lounge. Guests have access to the nearby Iveagh Fitness Club and the hotel provides free WiFi. Room rates start a 199 EUR ($270) on October 31. This is a Category 5 hotel and requires 44,000 Gold Points for an award night.

Conrad Dublin

The Conrad Dublin.

Conrad Dublin: This hotel is located across from the National Concert Hall and has 192 guest rooms which are contemporary in design and feature the brand’s Conrad Bed. Restaurants include the Alex Restaurant and the causal Alfie’s Bar and Grill. The hotel also has an on-site fitness center and business center. Room rates start at 265 EUR ($360) per night for October 31. This is a Category 7 hotel requiring 50,000 Hilton HHonors points for an award night.

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel: Built in 1824, this central hotel has 265 rooms including 19 suites – and according to legend, a few permanent ghostly residents! Rooms have standard amenities like feather beds, marble bathrooms and flatscreen TVs. The hotel’s main restaurant is the Saddle Room Restaurant featuring an Oyster Bar and there is an on-site fitness room. Room rates start at 219 EUR ($297) per night in late October (although October 31 is currently fully-booked). This is a Category 6 hotel, and requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points for an award night.

The historic exterior of the Westin Dublin.

The historic exterior of the Westin Dublin.

Westin Dublin: TPG stayed here back in February, 2012, so you can read his account of his stay for all the details. Room rates start at 185 EUR ($251) per night on October 31. This is an SPG Category 5 property requiring between 12,000 Starpoints for an award night.

OAXACA. MEXICO

Day Of The Dead

During the Day Of The Dead rituals in Oaxaca, people lay out scared alters for lost loved ones.

Halloween season in Mexico means the Day of Dead where people pray for family members and friends who have died, and one memorable place to celebrate is Oaxaca, where the festivities of Día de los Muertos begin a week before the 1st and 2nd of November with the “Plaza de los Muertos.” The main heart of the celebration is in the Mercado de Abastos – one of the largest outdoor markets in Mexico – but each plaza and city market joins in making traditional mole dishes and decorating sacred alters. Along with traditional flowers such as sweet-smelling “cempasuchil” or marigolds, toys are brought for the children and bottles of tequila or mezcal are often laid out for adults. There are a number of tour groups that you can join to get the most of this unique cultural tradition, such as MOC Adventures, which hosts an eight-night Day of The Dead trip starting at $1,960 per person, including lodging at Casa Catrina, breakfast and some group dinners. Tradition Mexico holds a similar seven-night trip which visits a number of different villages around the Oaxaca Valley.

Holiday Inn Express Oaxaca Centro-Historico: This 100-room hotel is centrally located in the center of town just seven miles from Xoxocotlan International Airport. Rooms feature complimentary WiFi, a flatscreen TV, work desk and chair, and a coffee and tea maker. There is also a business center, fitness center and outdoor pool, while complimentary breakfast is served in the Express Start Breakfast Bar. Room rates start at $90 per night in late October, although there is no availability for October 31. This is a Category 2 hotel requiring 15,000 points for an award night.

There are also a number of boutique hotels in Oaxaca, including Hotel Palacio Borghese, Hotel La Casona De Tita, and Casa de Siete Balcones.

RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO

The Festival of Life and Death Traditions.

The Festival of Life and Death Traditions in Riviera Maya.

Also known as the Mayan Riviera, this area traditionally stretched from Playa del Carmen down to Tulum but has since grown beyond in both directions. From October 30-November 2, the region celebrates Festival of Life And Death Traditions encouraging local artists and groups to get involved in the Day of the Dead celebration. Included in the festivities are workshops, handcrafts, offerings and altars, a puppet theater, story-tellers, tours to the underworld and Xcaret theme park’s Cemetery “Bridge to Paradise,” along with music and dancing.

Fairmont Mayakoba

The Fairmont Mayakoba is located on a stunning lagoon amidst tropical jungles.

Fairmont Mayakoba: This 401-room hotel in Playa del Carmen is located in a gated resort amidst tropical forests and mangroves. Guest rooms, which include lagoon and jungle view casitas and beach area suites, feature WiFi for a fee, a flatscreen TV, coffee and tea maker, private furnished balconies and spa-style bathrooms with soaking tubs. Luxurious amenities range from an 18-hole golf course and an infinity pool to the Willow Stream Spa, and dining options range from AAA 4-Diamond restaurants, Las Brisas and El Puerto, to a European style café, Café Maya. Room rates start at $249 per night in November but October 31 is currently booked. This is a resort is a part Visa Signature Hotels program and a member of Fine Hotels & Resorts, a loyalty program for Amex Platinum cardholders.

Other hotels and resorts in the area include the Viceroy Riviera Maya and the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, which are also both Visa Signature properties. For more information on Cancun and the Riviera Maya, check out our Destination of the Week on the area.

 VANCOUVER

Check out the Secret Souls Walk, with the secret location revealed just 24 hours before the event.

Check out the Secret Souls Walk, with the mystery location revealed just 24 hours before the event.

Vancouver is a great place to celebrate Halloween because there is a little something for everyone. First, the entire Burrad Hotel will be transformed into a 72-room haunted hotel party called Halloween Social. Later, if you dare to spend the night, the top two floors will be all done up as VIP Halloween rooms. If you prefer a good ghost tour, try this Haunted Trolley Tour for adults only. You’ll ride through haunted streets, and by haunted houses and hospitals, all accompanied with spooky tales to scare the wits out of you. For teens and adults, check out Fright Nights, which includes rides, haunted houses and attractions. Take your kids to the Country Pumpkin Patch for pumpkin picking and corn mazes. Finally, the Parade of Secret Souls includes workshops on crafts, mask making in dance, ending up a special Secret Souls walk with a surprise location, revealed only 24 hours before the walk.

All Fairmonts in Vancouver feature Fairmont Gold floors, which have their own reception desks and private lounges, breakfast buffet, afternoon canapés, an honor bar, in-room high-speed WiFi and more.

Fairmount Pacific Rim

The Fairmount Pacific Rim’s gorgeous pool deck.

Fairmont Pacific Rim: This glittering 5-star hotel, which opened beside Coal Harbour just before the 2010 Winter Olympics, offers 377 guest rooms with views of the harbor, mountains and Stanley Park. The elegant ORU Restaurant specializes in Pacific Rim cuisine, and the Lobby Lounge hosts live music six nights a week. Giovane Cafe features a crayon-bright Vespa scooter, espresso drinks, a casual lunch menu and a mouthwatering bakery case. The fitness center has a full-service spa, outdoor terrace with Jacuzzis, infrared sauna and meditation pods, and a rooftop pool with private cabanas and fire pits. Room rates start at $386 per night on October 31st. This hotel is a member of the Visa Signature Hotels program and the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, so Amex Platinum cardholders enjoy perks like room upgrades upon availability, early check-in, late check-out, daily continental breakfast, and $100 in spa credit per stay.

Other hotel options include the Hilton Metrotown, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, or the Marriot Pinacle Downtown.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Rudy Rosenberg

    Let’s not forget Philadelphia, where the Eastern State Penitentiary puts on quite a show.

  • Chris Coveney

    Ummm… Provincetown??? Halloween there is like a gay High Holy day….not to mention the “Thriller” Zombie dancing on Commercial Street.

  • thepointsguy

    Sounds fun! But with no real point hotel options it didn’t make the cut.

  • HCSmooth66

    I have lived in Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin. Both actually do a pretty good job on Halloween, though perhaps more geared toward the college crowd. When I was in grad school in Madison things started to get out of hand with about 3-4 years in a row of “riots” and cops clearing streets with tear gas. I left State Street moments before things escalated during the first riot. And I still believe to this day that the reason the riot started was because a group of young coeds at a party in an apartment overlooking State Street stopped flashing the crowd on the street. It seems nothing makes a drunken mod angrier than having women stop showing their assets. Go figure.

    Things have calmed down quite a bit since and it’s more of a festival rather than an “Everyone meet on State Street at midnight” kind of thing.

  • Paul

    Also geared towards the college crowd, but UCSB in Santa Barbara often receives national attention for their shindig

  • Brandon

    One of my science teachers, from 4 years ago, said that New Orleans is the most sinful city in America. According to him, Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on New Orleans for being sinful. I wonder what you guys think about my science teacher’s observation.

  • x

    What about Hong Kong? Significant Halloween partying every year

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