Crystal Springs ready for holidays

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Located in the picturesque Skylands region, Crystal Springs Resort is ready to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

Even better, families visiting the resort any time in December can enjoy an array of activities for all ages including the Tropical Biosphere pool complex at Grand Cascades Lodge, nearby skiing and Christmas-related events from wreath making and gingerbread house decorating workshops to horse-drawn rides to holiday family photos and much more.

Grand Cascades Lodge will be decked out in its holiday finest and the restaurants will serve special Christmas menus. Crystal Tavern and Springs Bistro will offer 3-course Christmas menus on both days, in addition to limited a la carte options.

Highlights at Crystal Tavern include Warm Squash Salad with ricotta and toasted hazelnuts; Smoked Duck Breast with Brussels sprouts; Rib Roast; Eggnog Panna Cotta with salted caramel; and a Christmas Pudding. The menu is $69 ($29 for optional wine pairing) and available from 5-9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and noon until 9 p.m. on Christmas Day.

For an Italian twist at Springs Bistro menu options will feature Tortellini en Brodo with braised lamb; King Crab; Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle; Grilled Mangalitsa Pork with fregola and Eggnog Affogato. The menu is $69 ($29 for optional wine pairing) and will be served from 5-9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 3-8 p.m. on Christmas Day.

All December, Crystal Springs turns into a winter wonderland with lots of family fun, including weekend visits with Santa. Every Friday and Saturday night, hotel guests can take a horse drawn wagon ride from of Grand Cascades to Christmas Corner to visit Santa, watch a live nativity scene complete with a 'camel'! Afterwards, guests can roast marshmallows over a live fire while a gourmet hot chocolate stand offers cocoa, holiday cocktails, s'mores kits and other tasty treats. Indoors every Saturday, there will be traditional holiday activities like an elf scavenger hunt and gingerbread decorating workshops ($35 per house). At the sister property Minerals Hotel in Vernon, NJ, the winter workshop is open Friday evenings, Saturday and Sunday with refreshments, mini tree and wreath decorating, ornament and dreidel painting, gingerbread houses and marshmallow roasting. Kids can also take pony rides with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays 1-3 p.m.

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