Ryan Seacrest appears to be a nice enough guy. If you told the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve host that you needed to cancel your annual TV date with him because you had other plans, we’re almost certain he’d understand. We’d even bet that if you said to him you were going to watch fireworks on the beach of an island resort or you had dinner reservations at a Star-Rated restaurant, he’d probably be more jealous than anything else. Don’t get us wrong — Times Square is great. But not even Seacrest can deny that Bermuda and Geneva are fabulous places to ring in 2016.
Usher in 2016 at buzzed-about spot Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown. Kick off the festivities with a five-course meal from James Beard Award-winning executive chef Frank Ruta in The Grill Room, which overlooks the C&O Canal. Afterward, head up to the heated Rooftop Bar & Lounge — one of our favorite hotel-guest-only amenities — for live entertainment, cocktails, champagne and a countdown to midnight. A reason to wake up nice and early the next day: The Grill Room’s champagne trolley brunch. Master Sommelier Keith Goldston will pair your first meal of the year with top-notch bubbles.
There’s something to be said for counting down the seconds with sand between your toes rather than drunken revelers stepping on your feet in a crowd. At Elbow Beach, Bermuda, you not only have the option of watching New Year’s fireworks from the beach, but you also get to take advantage of the Quite The Night New Year’s Eve package that comes with a five-course meal at divine Café Lido and a $200 spa credit. Good luck finding either of those goodies at your hometown celebration.
The Hamptons may be most popular as a spring and summer hot spot, but Four-Star Topping Rose House would have you know that things aren’t too shabby in late December, either. Beyond the Kodak-perfect locale and charming rooms, Topping Rose House Restaurant wins with remarkable dinners scheduled for 5:30 and 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. With a three-course meal stuffed with savory selections like roasted cauliflower salad and Cervena venison Wellington, the kitchen promises you’ll step into January full off the region’s finest seasonal ingredients.
If you’re looking to impress your date, try to snag one of the 12 tables at Aubergine, the Restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel, an intimate Five-Star spot, today. Chef Justin Cogley consistently turns out elegant, innovative tasting menus featuring impossibly fresh local fare that is plated oh-so artistically. Expect New Year’s Eve to be no different. The first seating begins at 5:30 for a four-course meal. The second seating starts at 8:30 for a six-course feast with wine pairings and champagne toast.
With Diplo and Snoop on one end of the Strip and Nicki Minaj at the other, it’s safe to say that things might get a little loud in Sin City on December 31. But being the accommodating city that it is, Vegas has plenty for those who get more excited about turndown service than turning up the volume in clubs. In fact, Restaurant Guy Savoy, the Five-Star eatery in the Augustus Tower of Caesars Palace, has quite the elegant holiday spread in the works for the former group. While the fine establishment plans to space out the New Year’s Eve noshing over two sittings (5:30 and 9 p.m.), expect expertly executed dishes such as artichoke and black truffle soup, grilled wagyu and citrus tartare on both menus.
Newport, Rhode Island
At Castle Hill Inn, champagne isn’t reserved for midnight. Drinking bubbly becomes a daylong affair on New Year’s Eve — you’ll receive a bottle upon arrival and then in the afternoon you’ll have a champagne tasting, followed by a screening of the 1954 Audrey Hepburn favorite Sabrina. Of course, you’ll ring in ’16 with dinner, dancing and more champagne. The morning after, make a beeline for the Four-Star hotel’s New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch, where you can do even more imbibing at the Bloody Mary bar.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
These days, everything about Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star WaterColor Inn & Resort feels new. From the still-drying paint in the main lobby to fresh beds in the rooms, the property decided long ago that it was going to welcome the new year looking its spiffiest. Fish Out of Water, the resort’s Four-Star restaurant, is getting in on the revelry with a four-course holiday feast — executive chef Todd Rogers’ menu will be headlined by chicken-fried quail and herb-crusted lamb loin — that will have you wishing December 31 came around every month.
Indulgence is reaching new heights on December 31 at The Painted Lady Restaurant in Oregon’s pinot noir country. Sixteen courses will be served at the “Sweet 16” dinner that begins at 7 p.m. And this being wine country, pairings are a must. The owners of the fine-dining restaurant, which is known for its superb use of local and seasonal ingredients, certainly know you will be ready to really celebrate — they are offering complimentary car service, too.
A sublime multi-course tasting menu at Chicago’s lauded restaurant Acadia is pretty much a forgone conclusion when you book a reservation, but the New Year’s Eve dinner seems extra special with dishes like pimento crab tea sandwiches; cream of mushroom soup made with foraged mushrooms, lobster and truffles; and lobster Newburg with toast and champagne “caviar.” The first seating is at 5 p.m., and the second follows at 9 p.m.
Geneva tops the list of beautiful European cities that celebrate the holiday season with aplomb, and you’ll get a taste of just that at the contemporary Hotel President Wilson, A Luxury Collection Hotel overlooking Lake Geneva. Three of its venues are hosting New Year’s Eve dinners — the elegant, acclaimed Bayview, the warm Lebanese restaurant Arabesque and the sexy, sleek Glow Bar. All will have live music. Take advantage of the Glittering Offer, which is available through January 15 for a credit (about $100) you can use at the spa or at brunch the next day.
No doubt there’s a bevy of glittery New Year’s parties to attend in Las Vegas, but why not catch America’s adorable songbird Carly Rae Jepsen? The Venetian Theater, located inside the massive Four-Star The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, is hosting her for three concerts, including one on New Year’s Eve at 10 p.m. It gives you plenty of time to visit DB Brasserie for its special four-course NYE dinner (the 5 p.m. seating is a steal at $50). Be sure to book a room at The Venetian or its Four-Star sister hotel The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino so you can be in close proximity to your pillow after midnight.
To get away from it all this holiday, escape to this cozy hideaway. The Five-Star American Club has several celebrations planned. Start at the Four-Star Immigrant Restaurant for a five- or seven-course tasting menu that includes Osetra caviar and veal roulade. Wrap up the evening at either The Horse & Plow to hear the Dave Steffen Band or The Winery Bar, an intimate space where you can enjoy beats from DJ Heavy. Or head to Woodlands Hall (at nearby sister property Inn at Woodlake) for DJ Joe Ryan, desserts from The American Club, an open bar and champagne.
New York City
Times Square during New Year’s Eve loses its luster when you consider the Countdown to Midnight party at 21 Club, a Midtown West institution. The speakeasy-turned-restaurant will have live music, dancing and a four-course feast with dishes like Long Island duck with parsnip puree, chestnuts, wilted spinach and Grand Marnier gastrique; and champagne mousse with raspberry coulis and Chambord cream. Pick the ambience that best suits your celebration: the festive Bar Room, the formal gallery or the romantic Upstairs at 21.
You didn’t need another excuse to visit Hawaii this time of year, but the Four-Star Halekulani’s New Year’s Eve galas would be reason alone for foodies. Cap off 2015 at Five-Star La Mer with an eight-course dinner featuring Hawaiian lobster and wagyu with chestnut mousseline and Kona coffee jus. Not to be outdone, Four-Star Orchids will serve a six-course meal, including corn and caviar and cured salmon. On New Year’s Day, the feast continues with a brunch buffet at Orchids and a barbecue dinner at House Without A Key, which also will have live entertainment and celebratory cocktails.