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On the Road with Nancy Brown: Home for the Holidays

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown shares holiday lodging deals around the bay.

Photo: The Claremont Hotel & Spa

Snow flurries in the Berkeley hills? It’s true, and you won’t even have to put your coat on to experience the white stuff. The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa is featuring a “Home for the Holidays” offer that will having you sipping peppermint hot cocoa in the lobby in no time. While you’re there, admire the impressive 10-foot gingerbread replica of the Claremont. Thirty Christmas trees, up to 12 feet tall will grace the property, along with hundreds of feet of garland, wreaths and poinsettias. Thank goodness this isn’t your PG & E bill, as the Claremont uses over 12,000 white lights to illuminate the snow falling in the lobby. That’s right, the snow is in the hotel lobby.

If you go: Rates start at $189 per night through January 9, 2011. (510) 843-3000, 41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley.

Photo: Hyatt Regency San FranciscoOr do you prefer holiday shopping in San Francisco? Value-conscious readers will enjoy the “San Francisco on Sale” holiday package at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. The package includes a $25 food and beverage credit as well as a Shop SF/Get More savings card, which features special offers and discounts at more than 200 retailers around the city.

If you go: This offer is available exclusively at both hotels through January 6. Rates start at $161 for Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf and $169 for SF Hyatt Regency. Enter booking code “PRM2.” (800) 233-1234, the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, 555 North Point St. Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.

How about a little wine tasting to wind down from city shopping? The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has partnered with the Press Club, an urban wine tasting bar located at the foot of the hotel, for the “California Wine Experience” package, which includes a $50 Press Club gift card per night and a personalized winery itinerary prepared by the Four Seasons’ concierge. If shopping if your main goal, however, the hotel is also offering a package that includes overnight valet parking and a $100 Bloomingdale’s gift card as well as 15 percent discounts, package wrapping, delivery to the hotel, and a makeover at the Chanel counter.

If you go: Both packages are available through December 31, 2010. Rates start at $415 for the wine experience package and $470 for the shopping package. (800) 332-3442, 757 Market Street, San Francisco.

The spa at the Cavallo Point Lodge. Photo courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood.And for those who prefer admiring the city skyline from across the Golden Gate Bridge, head to Cavallo Point Lodge after a long day of shopping or site seeing for the "Sip, Shop, and Spa" package. Put your feet up as you stare at panoramic city views while sipping from a complimentary bottle of wine; realign with a 60-minute massage or facial, also included in the package; and visit the Lodge Mercantile where you’ll find a selection of locally made crafts you can purchase with the included $25 gift card.

If you go: Offer available through December 24, 2010. Rates start at $410. (888) 651-2003, 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito.

 Top ten reasons to celebrate the holiday season in San Francisco:

1. It snows at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco every day through New Year's Eve at 1 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.
2. To use your Shop SF/Get More savings card at PIER 39 and check out the decked out trees.
3. Got foodies on the shopping list? Pick up culinary gifts at the Ferry Building.
4. Hop aboard a Holiday Cruise with Hornblower Cruises or take a City Lights Cruise on Red & White Fleet.
5. Go ice skating on the waterfront at Embarcadero Center’s holiday ice rink.
6. See the city's most festive neighborhoods decked out in Christmas lights with Mr. Toad’s 90-minute holiday lights tour.
7. Enjoy Breakfast with Santa in Eclipse Café December 4, 6, 11, 12, 18, and 19 from 8 a.m. until noon.
8. See Christmas with Walt Disney, a special screening of The Nutcracker Suite, Pluto's Christmas Tree and scenes from television Christmas specials at the Walt Disney Family Museum now through December 31.
9. Take in the 2010 Great Dickens Christmas Fair on weekends now through December 19.
10. Be a spectator during the December 17 Holiday Lights Boat Parade with best viewing along the Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront.

Where will you be for the holidays? Please leave a comment below.

A lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Nancy D. Brown grew up in Moraga. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Lafayette with her husband and teens. Nancy is the Uptake.com Travel Editor, writes the What a Trip blog and is a Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun columnist. Horse lovers will find her at www.writinghorseback.com. Follow Nancy on Twitter at twitter.com/Nancydbrown.