By Joshua Hergesheimer
With Lunar New Year now in full swing, we’ve scoured the globe for the best spots to say goodbye to the Year of the Dragon and welcome in the Water Snake. So get packing, since the last day of Lunar New Year is on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Got that? As the full moon rises that evening, more than two-and-a-half billion people are going to party like it’s 4710. And that’s epic. So get under the skin of the Year of the Snake with our top hotel tips:
In a city known for its glimmering luxury hotels as well as its fascinating hutongs – historic alleyways packed with low-rise brick buildings – deciding on the right hotel could leave you with a split personality. Why not get the best of both worlds at the Regent? With a cascading staircase, exquisite décor and a lounge with views to die for, the Regent is always dressed to kill…and Lunar New Year is no exception.
The lobby will be filled with lanterns that light your path to the Lunar New Year set menu feast, and the hotel’s own Chinese Lion Dancers will have you shaking your tail. And you’re just a stone’s throw from the city’s best-decorated hutongs, the ideal backdrop for your Lunar New Year photos.
2. Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s bright nights and harbour lights make it the perfect choice for shoppers, foodies and culture vultures, or just anyone who wants to say they’ve ridden the world’s longest escalator. To get a front-row seat, base yourself at the Peninsula Hotel.
The Peninsula will be decorated to help guests get in the holiday spirit and offers an eight-course meal with traditional New Year delicacies as well as entertainment by a Chinese musical ensemble. Right in the thick of things, you’re just steps away from the route of the International Night Parade. Add in a complimentary glass of champagne on the terrace as fireworks explode overhead, and you’ve got a winner. Besides, what other hotel offers a bar stocked with rare whiskies and complimentary airport pickup by Rolls Royce? Take that, 007.
3. Ho Chi Minh City
China isn’t the only Asian country that celebrates the arrival of spring. For a taste of other cities offering lunar delights, consider a trip to Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh City, where the Lunar New Year is referred to as Tết Nguyên Đán, or Vietnamese New Year. In the Vietnamese language, to celebrate the Lunar New Year is ăn Tết, which translates as ‘eat Tết.’’ Clearly a food-centric festival. So if pork stomach and half-boiled eggs really get your coconut juices flowing – or if you’d rather just stick with sticky rice – you’ll have no problem eating your fill. While you digest, blow off some steam by blowing off firecrackers to ward off evil spirits…and evil calories.
A 1925 gem, the Hotel Majestic oozes colonial grandeur, with its river views, street-side balconies and rooftop terrace. Its Lunar New Year offerings include a gala dinner and the best view of the city’s fireworks. And several Tết cultural performances take place on the Majestic’s doorstep, featuring drummers, jugglers, dancers and musicians.
If the Far East’s humidity leaves you feeling hot and bothered, head to Vancouver for a cool rain shower. Situated on Canada’s west coast, Vancouver and its surrounding suburbs are inextricably linked to the Orient. Roughly half of the region’s residents claim Asian heritage and the city’s Chinatown is the country’s largest. However, Vancouver’s famous ‘liquid sunshine’ means you’re more likely to see dim sum than the darn sun, so pack your lucky red umbrella.
So how can you get a view of the mountains and ocean – at least when it isn’t raining – that’s head-and-shoulders above everyone else? Where else but the city’s own Shangri-La? Boasting luxurious comfort with Asian accents, the Shangri-La is putting on the ritz this Lunar New Year with a Canto-Pop dance party – there are even prizes for the best Cheongsam (a body hugging one-piece Chinese dress). Don’t worry fellas – Vancouver prides itself on being an equal opportunity city, and the contest doesn’t specify ladies only.
5. Las Vegas
Found an envelope filled with lucky money in the desert? It’s no mirage. At first glance, Las Vegas may seem an unusual choice for Lunar New Year. But where Sin City meets Sing Tao, watch out! Vegas never plays it safe, and hotels across the city are gambling that visitors will be happy to slot in some Lunar New Year celebrations between their Blackjack and Baccarat.
The Palazzo Hotel will be hosting a traditional fan dance and distributing 500 not-so-traditional red envelopes containing either $10 gift cards or chocolate coins. Once you’ve got your lucky gifts in tow, head next door to watch the firework-studded dragon dance that winds its way through the waterfall atrium of the Venetian.