Road Trip

Check into these Texas hotels for a festive holiday getaway

Texas resorts and hotels are offering unique, festive experiences this holiday season.

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Texans may prefer a pickup to a one-horse open sleigh, but that won't stop any of us from dashing around the state this season. But instead of going to grandmother's house, consider checking into a fabulous hotel to make spirits bright. Not just any hotel, though. Here are places that stage Texas-worthy celebrations perfect for a holiday getaway.

Boardwalk Inn — Kemah

Kemah Boardwalk Inn

Photo courtesy of Boardwalk Inn

The Kemah Boardwalk provides a great spot to catch the area's Christmas Boat Parade, held Saturday, December 14, starting at 6:30 pm. Hundreds of brightly decorated power and sailboats float down the Clear Lake channel from South Shore Harbour Marina and Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay. Stay at the Boardwalk Inn and also take in Jingle on the Boardwalk, December 7, 8, 14, 15, and 22. It includes shopping, a variety of live entertainment, activities, pictures with Santa, and more.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa — San Antonio

Photo courtesy of Marriott

At the ritzy JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, new activities for this year's holidays include Santa's Workshop with children's activities such as writing letters to Santa, making snow globes, and painting clay ornaments. Kids also can search for toy elves on the Elfie Selfie Scavenger Hunt. Other festivities include JW Elf tuck-ins, JW Elf Express train car making, certified JW Elf classes, a polar bear plunge challenge, a Sandy Snowman Building Contest every Saturday morning, and Sunday Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 18 Oaks restaurant.

​Hilton Americas — Houston

Hilton Americas-Houston Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hilton Americas-Houston

The Hilton Americas lobby transforms into a lighted wonderland, complete with gingerbread walls spanning the lobby and a holiday chocolate display made from more than 2.5 tons and 6.5 million calories of chocolate. Have Breakfast with Santa on Saturday and Sunday mornings December 7 through 22 — photos and cookie decorating included. Just steps away, Discovery Green offers ice skatingevery day through February 2, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Saturdays now through Christmas, Santa Claus hits the ice from 5 to 6 pm. Also nearby in Hermann Square is the setting for a Gingerbread Build-Off competition on Saturday, December 7, from 10 am to 5 pm.

​Hilton Anatole — Dallas

Photo courtesy of Hilton

The Hilton Anatole transforms its outdoor area into Peppermint Park, a winter wonderland with train rides; light displays; photos with Santa; and a variety of activities from face painting to miniature golf, s'mores, and contests. Open 5 to 9 pm to all hotel guests. A Breakfast with Santa package available weekends from now through December 22 includes late check-out, breakfast for two adults and two children with Santa, complimentary entrance into Peppermint Park, and holiday movie night. VIP Experience weekends include a meet-and-greet reception with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a photo with Santa, cookies and refreshments, breakfast with Santa, entrance into Peppermint Park, holiday movie night, valet parking, and late check-out.

​Hotel Galvez & Spa — Galveston

Hotel Galvez Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hotel Galvez

Hotel Galvez & Spa kicked off the holiday season on the island with the Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration on Thanksgiving weekend. The fun continues with Sunday Brunch with Santa, each Sunday through December 22 and the Night Before Christmas Gingerbread Village on view in the Hotel Galvez lobby. The Downtown Lantern and Lights is also underway, and includes a timed laser light show illuminated on the American National Insurance Company building. Watch it from The Rooftop Bar at The Tremont House, and stop by the special Polar Express-themed gingerbread house on public display in the Tremont lobby.

Hotel Van Zandt — Austin

Hotel Van Zandt Christmas

Photo courtesy of Hotel Van Zandt, Instagram

An adult take on the holidays, Geraldine's restaurant on the fourth floor of this Rainey Street hotel stages a South Pole-style pop-up December 17 to 21 starting at 6 pm. It features a snow machine, igloo lounges on the pool deck, an artisan market, holiday-themed cocktails, appearance by Southern Santa, and Geraldine's annual Motown Christmas performance. Igloos, available by reservation for up to eight, are decked out in "TexMas" décor and complete with record players, board games, and more.

​Gaylord Texan — Grapevine

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Gaylord Texan resort creates a 125-acre winter wonderland including millions of twinkling lights; 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice for ICE! Featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas; a tubing hill made from 2 million pounds of snow; more than 200 Christmas trees, including one 54 feet tall; an outdoor ice-skating rink; and extravagant decorations including miniature train sets, 25-foot-tall Nutcrackers, wreaths, and more. Activities include breakfast with Charlie Brown, gingerbread decorating, and reading with Mrs. Claus. The over-21 crowd can chill out in the ice bar. Runs through January 5, 2020.

​Stagecoach Inn — Salado

Stagecoach Inn Christmas

Photo courtesy of Stagecoach Inn

Make Stagecoach Inn your home base for Salado's annual 12 Nights of Christmas Stroll December 6-8 and 13-15. The weekends feature live entertainment, a Nativity performance, and a lighted holiday parade along Main Street. Carolers and other special activities happen at the historic inn, which was extensively renovated in 2018. Stagecoach Inn guests enjoy complimentary mulled wine, hot toddies, or hot cocoa with marshmallows; and comfy Mexican blankets in each room; photos with the seasonal decor; and Santa's Workshop on December 15. Built in 1861 and once a stop on the Chisholm Trail, the Inn also houses the oldest restaurant in the Lone Star State, which serves a sumptuous Christmas dinner buffet.

​Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort — Boerne

Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort Christmas

Photo courtesy of Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort

Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, owned by country music legend George Strait, gets gussied up Texas style and serves a Christmas Prime Rib Dinner on the big day. Enjoy outdoor activities such as paddling, hiking, and fishing, plus shopping in downtown Boerne and visits to the numerous area wineries.

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This story originally appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site, CultureMap.

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A general view of the Mercedes Laver Cup cars in front of TD Garden in promotion of Laver Cup Boston 2020 on March 2, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images for The Laver Cup

The 2050 Decorbonization Roadmap laid out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in December makes it clear, the sale of new gasoline-powered cars will end by 2035. It's all part of the Commonwealth government's push to Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Though it's not law, the guidelines set forth in the plan make it clear that the internal combustion vehicle is marked for dead despite the current very low rate of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicle adoption. Despite pushes from government, advocacy groups, and the automakers themselves, the public just isn't buying electric vehicles at a high volume. In the last 10 years, there have been just 1.6 million plug-in electric vehicles sold in the U.S.(BEVs and PHEVs) out of over 156 million light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S. during the same time period according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Ford sold more than 1.6 million F-150s in 2018-2019 alone.

2020 Hyundai Nexo The Hyundai Nexo runs on a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a traditional electric battery setup. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Effectively, Massachusetts is set to eliminate choice for its residents, a move that echos recent action by the State of California.

The Roadmap looks to slowly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions using the measurement of million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e). The baseline the study uses for measurement is 1990, where there was 94.5 MMTCO2e in the Commonwealth. 2005 was the last year where emissions were above that level. They've been sinking since.

By 2017, emissions were 22.7 percent below 1990 numbers nearing the 70.8 MMTCO2e goal set by the commonwealth for 2020. Sixty-nine percent of that is from households and light-duty vehicles. Light-duty vehicles make 27 percent of the state's emissions.

Efforts to decarbonize come in four areas: end use energy (transitioning away from fossil fuels), energy flexibility and efficiency (aggressively pursuing energy efficiency and flexibility to enable cost-effective decarbonization), decarbonizing energy supply (production of zero and low-carbon energy supplies), and carbon sequestration (facilitating carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere).

The Roadmap contends that "although several clean options already exist for both light-duty transportation and for home and small business building services, across our in-depth analysis, electrification tends to be the most cost-effective - both individually and system-wide - and easiest to deploy." Basically, if the government requires buyers to purchase more electric cars, their cost will go down and that area of the graph is "fixed".

A 2021 Toyota Mirai fills up with fuel at a station in Southern California.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

The report doesn't completely neglect hydrogen use in vehicles. It says that "zero-carbon fuels like hydrogen help power the rest of the transportation system". By "the rest" they mean vehicles that aren't cars, trucks, or buses. That means high-load transportation vehicles like tractor trailers will be able to use hydrogen but the public would be discouraged from purchasing and driving a Toyota Mirai or Hyundai Nexo, both of which run on hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) technology, are available for sale today, and produce only water vapor out of the tailpipe.

Massachusetts and other states in the northeast face a unique barrier to widespread hydrogen fuels adoption. According to Toyota, in the 1980s, many municipalities in the area outlawed the transportation of combustable fuels over bridges and through tunnels. Using hydrogen as a fuel in vehicles is not as risky as traditional transportation methods because of the technology that has evolved to protect the fuel, vehicle, and passengers. However, these laws have not changed to accommodate the advances. This means that driving a FCEV over a bridge or through a tunnel in some areas is illegal despite the fact that a neighboring jurisdiction may have modernized their regulations.

Most automakers are willing to publicly admit that their company views FCEVs as the endgame while battery electric vehicles (BEVs) like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3 as merely roadways to the full FCEV future.

The Roadmap spells out other ways in which the Commonwealth is committed to reducing the amount of fossil fuels emitted by vehicles including maintenance and support of existing public transportation systems, reducing single occupancy vehicles "where possible", making complementary land use decisions, and supporting active transportation architecture like bike lanes and sidewalks.

The report lays out the biggest obstacle facing wider spread adoption of electric vehicles by residents, the development of dependable and accessible charging infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth and in residents' homes. Europe, which is far ahead of the U.S in terms of regulating certain types of vehicles into popularity and the government subsidization of energy initiatives, still struggles with charging infrastructure woes.

Uncovered in the plan are the business consequences of the actions set forth. Assuming not as many people will need gasoline to run their vehicles, it is likely that gas stations will go out of business. The transportation of fossil fuels has its own sector of the industry that will be made mostly redundant. Vehicle service centers, often independent retailers, will be forced to spend big on equipment so that they can service electric vehicles as they gain popularity due to government regulation. Recently, many Cadillac dealerships balked at the quarter-million dollar cost of installing EV repair and service technology at their dealerships instead electing to give up their dealership rights entirely.

The report does say that "close attention and vigilant care is given to mitigate any undue or avoidable impact or burden on Massachusetts' residents across the Commonwealth's entire economic, social, and geographic diversity."

However, t does not cover what could happen if new vehicle buyers simply cross the border into Maine, Rhode Island, or Connecticut and purchase their new internal combustion vehicle there.

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The Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner celebrates the automaker's win at the 2019 race.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Designed to celebrate the luxury automaker's run up the world-renowned Pikes Peak course in Colorado, the limited edition Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner takes the appointments and features of the coupé to new heights. Each model is hand-built at Bentley's factory in Crewe, England.

The car is part of Bentley's nine Collections portfolio and restricted to a run of 15 vehicles, all of which have already been sold. Buyers are spread throughout the world and come from Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, New Zealand, Latvia and the United Kingdom. Five of the new owners come from the United States (Manhattan, Fort Lauderdale, Try (Michigan), Rancho Mirage (California), and Omaha.

Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

In 2019, a race-prepared version of the Continental GT beat the best time for a production car to climb the 5,000-feet of Pikes Peak by more than eight seconds. It took on the 156 bends in just 10 minutes, 18.4 seconds. It was piloted by three-time Pikes Peak champion, former 'King of the Mountain', Rhys Millen.

The Pikes Peak Continental GT Limited Edition is distinguished by exclusive Radium by Mulliner paintwork. One-third of the special edition's buyers have chosen to outfit their vehicle in the Mountain Decal Event Livery while three have chosen a more subtle gloss black exterior paint finish.

Each model wears a carbon fiber body kit and has Acid Green brake calipers and Pirelli P Zero Color Edition tires. The front, lower bumper inserts are enhanced with gloss black detailing, mirrored on the roof panel, wing mirrors and rear surfaces. There is a Pikes Peak decal on the front fender.

It wears standard 22-innch wheels painted in gloss black. The available '100' grille celebrates the fact that the record-breaking Pikes Peak run took place in Bentley's centenary year.

Inside the car is Alcantara trim with contrasting Radium thread stitching. A honeycomb Radium stitching design to the steering wheel is complemented by a radium strip across the middle, matching the Pikes Peak race car.

The fascia design on the passenger side sports a graphic design showing a section of the famous Pikes Peak track, with five different graphics being used across the 15-car run, along with the record-breaking time of 10:18.488.

Pikes Peak Radium embroidery continues on the headrest stitching, contrast binding on the overmats, with Pikes Peak treadplates and exclusive B&O speaker covers in Black Anodised and Radium finish.

Each Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner model is equipped with a 12-cylinder petrol engine that produces 626 brake horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. It has a zero to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph.

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