Let It Snow and Mercato at Four Seasons Westlake

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For a luxurious holiday getaway, look no further than the Four Seasons Westlake Village. If you stay there on Friday or Saturday night over the next few weekends, your family can enjoy its Winter Wonderland, as well as a gourmet Italian buffet dinner and dessert at Mercato, the market-style dining experience.

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Let It Snow has turned into a wonderland of winter-themed activities for families. Once you go through the portal to Let It Snow, Olaf and the Minions greet you for a photo op! Then follow the signs to the fun activity stations set up along the Look Out outdoor bar area:

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Holiday train rides
Hot chocolate and coffee station
S’mores at the fire pit (helpful elves are standing by)
Santa’s house – visit Santa, take a pic, and get a candy cane
Cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus
Pizza, adult beverages, and snacks for purchase
Ice skating!

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There is a small ice skating rink set up downstairs just outside the indoor pool. It’s a fascinating construction – made with fiberglass panels, skaters glide along on the skates provided and when they fall (because they will, let’s be honest) there is no cold ice to hurt or freeze them! My kids loved this and wanted to go back for more after dinner! Plan your visit well, because this is a popular activity, but staff keeps the line moving with skater time limits so everyone gets a turn.

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The activities make for a fun evening, and the icing on top is the festive sprinkle of snow that happens about every 15 minutes.

Let It Snow tickets are available to overnight guests who purchase the Winter Wonderland package. But Mercato Italiano, the bustling Italian evening in the hotels lobby restaurant, is open to anyone.

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At this buffet, we enjoyed the top-notch customer service we can always expect from the Four Seasons. We started with drinks – a Paso Creek merlot for me, and a Ladyface Alehouse dark amber for my husband. The kids loved their lemonade and chocolate milk served in “fancy glasses.” Warm bread is served with Ojai Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar, another local favorite.

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Servers recommended that we start with the antipasto side of the buffet, which actually turned out to be my favorite. The marinated mushrooms and artichoke salad, and the bruschetta, were good enough to bring me back for seconds, even after I had tried the entrees! Then we moved on to pasta, which was the kids’ favorite (of course), and I liked that there was a gluten free penne to try.

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The star of the entree section, for my husband, was the seafood cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp and crab. For me it was the lasagna. For the kids, well, it was making pizza with Chef Jim!

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For dessert, gelato flavors included pumpkin cheesecake and toffee crunch to pair with delicious custards and pastries. You’ll have to make sure to leave room though. It’s easy to indulge here! Reservations are wise, and cost is $31-50 per person.

My family enjoyed Let It Snow as guests, along with complimentary dining at Mercato Italiano, to facilitate this feature. All opinions are my own. And my husband’s and children’s.

Winter Wonderland Getaway at Four Seasons Westlake Village

IMG_7610Let It Snow 2013

This year the Four Seasons has taken its holiday special features up a few notches. In addition to the Let It Snow event outside at the Look Out, with snow, hot chocolate, holiday characters, even ice skating, the hotel is a stop for the Holiday Village Trolley operated by the city. It takes you to many different shopping destinations and it’s free to the community.

The Let It Snow event itself is available to the lucky folks who scored tickets through a special Conejo Deals sale, and to guests of the Four Seasons. A special Winter Wonderland package is available December 4 and 5, 11 and 12, and 18 and 19, and includes the luxury accommodations and service that the Four Seasons is famous for, plus one VIP pass for Let It Snow and the morning character breakfast and access to tickets for the rest of your guests. Elf tuck-ins are available, too!

The Let It Snow event will feature a live snowfall, a synthetic ice rink, photos with Santa, train rides, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, s’mores, apple cider, cocoa, and more!

You don’t have to drive to the mountains to take your kids to the snow. Book a luxurious room at the Four Seasons and enjoy snow in opulence. What a great idea for a holiday themed staycation! Stay tuned for photos and tales about the experience after we return next week to experience what’s new!

Delicious Winter Wonderland at Four Seasons Westlake Village

Let It Snow is back at the Four Seasons Westlake Village! And the Mercato Italiano in the Lobby Lounge is better than ever!

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Let It Snow

I visited with my family last year and loved the magical feeling of having snow fall in the evening in Southern California. I’m happy to say the Four Seasons has revived the tradition, with a few updates.

Instead of meandering out and mingling with bar guests, Let It Snow visitors go through an admission check-in and get wristbands that allow them access to the super cute s’mores kits and hot chocolate. The space has expanded this year for more room to enjoy the snow that falls twice an hour (and gives kids more room to run around). Watch out for the fire pits – which are great for roasting your marshmallows, but can be a bit smoky with the wrong direction of the wind.

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The outdoor space is freed up because Santa has been relocated into a holiday showroom, fantastically styled and cozily warm. Frosty the Snowman wanders about greeting visitors outside.

noname (4)photo by Kimball Hall courtesy of Four Seasons

The event is free for hotel guests and $5 for visitors, which includes:

– Admission includes unlimited hot cocoa, apple cider and s’mores (pizza by-the-slice along with other bites and drinks are available from the menu at The Lookout)

– Photo opp with Santa and elves in his regal sleigh

– The magical snowfall occurs between 5 and 9 pm, at the top and bottom of every hour

– On select dates, including this Friday, there will be special guests from L.I.F.E Animal Rescue holding dog adoptions at the event site

(event details on their Facebook page)

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 Mercato Italiano

After hanging out in the snow, we headed indoors to the Lobby Lounge which is transformed into Mercato Italiano on Saturday nights. The Mercato is a recreated Italian market, complete with umbrellas around the lavish buffet.

While servers bring an array of freshly made pizzas (veggie pizza with chickpeas, broccoli, and a white sauce was amazing) to your table, you are free to head to the different food areas as much as you want. There is an antipasti bar, a display of bruscettas (updated from the bruscetta bar from last year), 4-5 green salads, a hot pasta bar, a salami stand complete with a leg of ham, and a hot food counter.

pizza mercatoPizzas are tossed by Pizza Steve, but Chef Manny made a special repeat appearance to make some with my kids again. They are his #1 and #2 fans!

Standouts this year included:

Antipasti bar – Heirloom carrots tossed with herbs and oil, it tastes like a Christmas tree! My husband loved the enormous green olives.

Bruscetta – goat cheese, ricotta, and pear with carmelized onions

Pasta – the risotto with butternut squash, sage and a new-to-me vegetable called savoy, cavatelli with shrimp in a cream sauce

Hot food – my husband loved the lamb osso bucco, and my favorite was the lasagna with a meat sauce and fontina cheese whose noodles tasted homemade

Topping off the meal is the dessert bar, of course! This year’s gelato offerings included carrot, which I suggest you try before you order a whole scoop. It’s worth the experience, but might not be for everyone. My favorite is still the salted caramel, but another dessert took the family favorite spot this year – a mouthwatering pumpkin custard served in a little espresso cup.  (Definitely take the cannoli, but the shell-to-filling ratio is too high to move this confection up to #1. I mean what’s a cannoli if not an excuse to eat ricotta?)

Mercato Italiano is $48 for adults and $24 for kids (make sure your kids like food, or else that is one pricey bowl of buttered pasta you’re buying) and certain beverages are extra. I enjoyed my meal with a nice Chianti at the suggestion of our superb server, Dylan.

My family enjoyed Let It Snow and Mercato Italiano on the house to facilitate this feature.