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Into the Woods
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The Willcox hotel pays tribute to a 99-year-old hunting tradition for Thanksgiving
Aiken, South Carolina is the heart of America’s storied thoroughbred country, “The Winter Colony,” where the cream of New York society once gathered in cold-weather months to continue their equestrian pursuits. No town in America features a more traditional or communal Thanksgiving celebration than Aiken, nor is there a more special place to enjoy it than at the town’s 114-year old, beautifully refreshed and preserved hotel, The Willcox. The holiday is launched with a beloved custom signifying the start of the festive holiday season, the Blessing of The Hounds, and a traditional Thanksgiving buffet feast at the grandest white-pillared dame in South Carolina.
The Blessing of the Aiken Hounds, the oldest recognized Drag Pack in the United States, has been a local Thanksgiving Day ritual for nearly a century, marking the beginning of the hunting season in the 2,100-acre forest within Hitchcock Woods.
The Blessing begins with a half-mile stroll through the fallen autumn leaves from The Willcox into Hitchcock Woods, where fox hunters from half-a-dozen hunts - different territories around the region - sit atop their mounts in brilliant formal colors and sip Port Wine. A priest in his vestments intones a centuries-old ritual blessing over the fox, the horses, the people of Aiken, and all the animals of the forest who are about to take part in the first Drag Hunt of the season. The Aiken hounds tear off into the woods at the blare of trumpets and shouts of “Tally Ho!” and chase not after live animals, but the scent of a fox dragged in the early morning.
Rated as a “Best Hotel in the World” by Travel + Leisure, and a “Best Small Hotel” and “Best Hotel in the South” by Condé Nast Traveler, The Willcox is known as ‘The Living Room of Aiken,’ a welcoming space to drop in and make yourself at home. The hotel’s comfortable elegance is just right for entertaining and relaxing with friends, or sipping a cozy quiet drink this Thanksgiving season.
Thanksgiving at The Willcox
$149 per person per night [single-person supplements available]
Thanksgiving Buffet Lunch at $35 per person, $12 for children 12 and younger
Starters: Bread Rolls; Pumpkin Cornbread; Biscuits; Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Maple; Harvest Salad with Spinach, Arugula, Red Endive, Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, Smoked Gouda, and a Sweet Maple Fig Dressing; Boston Lettuce Salad with Sugar Snaps, Edamame, Avocado, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with a Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Entrées: Whole Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce, Gravy and Stuffing; Roasted Pork Loin
Sides: Potato Mash with Fried Onions; Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese; Green Beans in a Lemon Tarragon Butter; Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato and Squash
Desserts: Maple and Vanilla Crème Brûlée Tarte; Apple and Spice Cobbler with Vanilla Honey Whipped Cream; Sweet Potato Cider Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting and Toasted Salted Pecans; Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tarte
[Make your reservation online at www.thewillcox.com. Reservations are required and are subject to availability. This special is not to be used with any other discounts or specials. This prepaid nonrefundable rate is exclusive of tax and gratuity.]
The Willcox | 100 Colleton Avenue, SW Aiken, SC 29801 | 877.648.2200 | thewillcox.com