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The best way to end the year in a fabulous locale is by doing it for free — save the spending for the parties and cash in those points and miles you’ve been holding on to all year. Here’s a nifty round-the-world tour of some of 2016’s hottest New Year’s Eve destinations with a few tricks and tips to keep you living large on the last day of the year.
1. Paris, France
La Réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre, or New Year’s Eve, is one of the City of Light’s largest celebrations of the year, on par with Bastille Day. How to celebrate is your call, whether you’re up for the more classical route along the Seine river, lingering over a 5-course Champagne dinner on board a glass-encased bâteau or would rather take dinner up 200 feet to 58 Tour Eiffel, where you can dine inside the Eiffel Tower with a special tasting menu by Chef Alain Soulard, music courtesy of a live quartet and some of the best views in the city. During the holiday season, many of the city’s restaurants shut their doors, but if you really want to go all-out on a lavish dinner (with a lofty price tag to match), a few haute picks are hotel-based with celebrations at spots like Le Bristol Paris’s three Michelin-starred Epicure and the Four Seasons Hotel George V’s Le Cinq.
Where to Stay: You’re spending New Year’s Eve in Paris after all, so why not splurge a bit and sleep in luxury? Go all out by staying in one of the city’s most glamorous hotels, the 153-room Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, located near landmarks like the Louvre, Tuileries Garden and the Champs-Élysées. In honor of New Year’s Eve — and the 10th anniversary of Chef Jean François Rouquette’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Pur’ — diners can sit down for a feast through some of the eatery’s most famous courses. Rates at the hotel start at 650 euros (~$675) or 30,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points per night. Le Méridien Etoile is another points hotel located near the Champs-Élysées in the 17th arrondissement, with 1,025 guest rooms and 22 suites. To celebrate 2017, the hotel is offering a holiday package that starts with a free room upgrade and dinner on New Year’s Eve at Jazz Club Etoile — the same club that’s hosted the likes of legends from B.B. King to Lionel Hampton — followed by a holiday fête and breakfast on New Year’s Day. Rates at the SPG Category 5 hotel start at 215 euros (~$223) or 12,000 Starpoints per night.
2. Sydney, Australia
Sydney is a favorite for those wanting to be among the first to ring in the new year. While you could toast twice to 2017 in Sydney and Los Angeles on a 12-hour private jet flight, there are plenty of celebrations across the city worth staying in town for. Post up at one of the events taking place at the Sydney Opera House or the Royal Botanic Garden — both of which offer prime views of the fireworks — or head to one of the Harbour Islands, like Shark Island, which is taking on a tropical Caribbean theme for its New Year’s Eve party.
Getting There: American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, United and Virgin Australia all fly into Sydney Airport (SYD).
Where to Stay: From your home-away-from-home at the Park Hyatt Sydney, you’ll be perfectly placed for the fireworks show over the Harbour. The 155-room hotel sits between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and features luxe amenities like 24-hour butler service, waterfront restaurants and a rooftop pool with a sundeck. This year, the hotel is throwing its first New Year’s Eve party at The Guest House, partnering up with Belvedere Vodka for a cocktail celebration complete with fireworks and a DJ. Rates in January start at $1,320 AUD (~$958) or 30,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points per night. At the InterContinental Sydney, every one of the 509 rooms shows off picture-perfect views of the bridge, opera house or Royal Botanic Gardens from the hotel’s prime perch on the cultural side of the city. You’ll be within walking distance of these sites (as well as New Year’s Eve celebrations), but if you’re staying in one of the 28 suites, you may never want to leave when it comes time to toast 2017, with rooms featuring panoramic Harbour views in addition to spa baths, grand pianos and sweeping terraces. Rates start at $269 AUD (~$196) or 55,000 IHG Rewards points per night.
3. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is already known for its Spring Break-style allure when it comes to partying — hello Señor Frog’s! — but New Year’s Eve puts the Mexican city on par with American hotspots like Las Vegas when it comes to over-the-top celebrations. Combine the best of beach, pool and nightclub parties and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a New Year’s Eve extravaganza here. Take your pick of the city’s top clubs, from Mandala Beach to Dady’O, where you’ll have a Champagne-filled evening that only starts to kick off at midnight — continue with after parties at 2:00am, followed by a leisurely beach day or a cenote dive to start the new year on a refreshing note.
Getting There: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and United all fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN).
Where to Stay: Snag all the benefits of an all-inclusive stay that’s designed just for adults at the new 307-room Hyatt Zilara Cancun, located 15 minutes away from the booming nightlife scene on one of the widest stretches of beach in the Hotel Zone. In between New Year’s festivities, take a breather (or detox) with a beachside massage or a relaxing dip in the infinity pool. If you book one of the suites, you’ll also have your own ocean-facing Whirlpool, plus 24-hour room service that’s part of the all-inclusive fare. Rates start at $629 per night for two people. Also in the Hotel Zone, the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa features 448 rooms with balconies looking out at the water. This is one spot where you can definitely recover from New Year’s Eve partying in leisurely fashion by unwinding at the Mayan-inspired spa with treatments utilizing healing techniques still performed by some local communities. Rates at the Category 8 hotel start at $420 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
4. Venice, Italy
Venice’s Piazzo San Marco turns into the ultimate New Year’s group kiss come midnight, playing heavy on the theme of love and its tourism slogan, “Come and kiss in Venice,” with a countdown ringing from the bell tower at St. Mark’s Basilica. A light show of hearts rains down across the crowd as fireworks illuminate the sky overhead, highlighted by a toast with the city’s celebrated cocktail, the Bellini. Start the new year the following day with the Venetian version of a polar dip, a dive into the water at Lido Beach.
Getting There: Air Berlin, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa and United all fly into Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE).
Where to Stay: If you want to catch the action but not stay in the heart of it, book a stay at the JW Marriott Venice, set on the 40-acre private island of Isola delle Rose, a quick boat ride from St. Mark’s Square. From the 1920s-inspired, four-story main building, you can catch sweeping views of the Venice skyline and surrounding lagoon. If you really want a new year’s stay to remember, post up in one of the property’s villas, like Villa Rose, where you’ll have your very own island-within-an-island surrounded by gardens, a private pool and picture-perfect views of St. Mark’s Square on the horizon. Rates at the Category 8 hotel start at 290 euros (~$301) or 40,000 points per night. Ring in 2017 gala-style with an elegant dinner setting at The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, starting with an oyster and Champagne celebration at Longhi Bar before moving over to Restaurant Club del Doge for a feast of local specialties, like cuttlefish ink ravioli and slow-cooked veal cheek with Amarone wine sauce. The best part? When dinner’s wrapped up, your room is just steps away in the historic hotel with 18th-century handmade Murano lamps and palace-style suites looking across the canal. Rates at the SPG Category 7 hotel start at 430 euros (~$447) or 30,000 Starpoints per night.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
The hardest part about spending New Year’s Eve in The Big Easy is deciding where you’ll be at midnight. One option is along the Mississippi on a paddle wheeler cruise with live music and some of the best views of the fireworks show over the river. You can also catch a glimpse of the show and hear live music in Jackson Square, with the countdown and traditional fleur-de-lis drop. Foodies can get their fill of fabulous dining options with a multi-course tasting menu served up by the city’s best restaurants during the monthly Reveillon dinners, held in honor of a Creole tradition dating back to the mid-1800s.
Getting There: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit Airlines and United all fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
Where to Stay: Travelers looking for a budget-friendly stay without skimping on style and location will love the millennial-focused Moxy New Orleans, which sits just blocks from the French Quarter. The 108-room boutique hotel opened in May and features design savvy rooms (think glass-encased showers and platform beds) with TVs offering Netflex, Pandora and Crackle, plus a craft cocktail bar with a complimentary libation ready and waiting for you upon arrival — in New Orleans, it’s the signature city-inspired “Got Moxy,” a Bacardi Cherry Rum cocktail reminiscent of snowball shaved ice treats. Rates at the Category 6 hotel start at $117 or 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. For a more upscale option, The Roosevelt New Orleans is a classic. Dating back to 1893, this iconic hotel has hosted everyone from Sonny and Cher to presidents like Coolidge and Clinton, in addition to housing the Sazerac Bar, where the world’s first mixed drink is said to have been made. Rates start at $199 per night or 60,000 Hilton HHonors points per night.
Where are you spending New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of MEzairi Artworks via Getty Images.
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