The upside of being away from family and traveling for meetings during the holiday season is the chance to enjoy decorations at hotels. Many lobbies go above and beyond to help guests get in the spirit of the season. Here’s a delicious round-up of over-the-top gingerbread house displays that you have to see to believe.
Keep in mind, meeting professionals, that the pastry chefs responsible for these scrumptious masterpieces are the same members of the catering team behind your meeting menu. Use can use these displays as a springboard for creative ideas they may be able to design for your own event.
Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel—Beverly Hills, California
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Beverly Wilshire. Last year’s gingerbread house display was an impressive replica of the hotel. But for 2017, the hotel went even bigger with a life-size house that guests can walk through. It’s even edible! To bring a true winter wonderland to the heart of Beverly Hills, real snow falls in the lobby each night from 6 to 8 p.m.
Fashion Island Hotel—Newport Beach, California
Click your ruby red heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home.” If you can’t be home for the holidays, Fashion Island Hotel is a great place to make your home away from home. Follow the yellow- brick sugar-cookie road from Munchkin Land to Emerald City in this Wizard of Oz-themed display. The pastry team used 400 pounds of gingerbread dough, 300 pounds of fondant, 100 pounds of chocolate, 200 pounds of various candies—jelly beans, lollipops, gum-paste flowers—and 200 pounds of powdered sugar.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa—Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Walt Disney World Resort is the Happiest Place on Earth year-round, but even more so during the holiday season. The lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is transformed into a gingerbread paradise, where the pastry chefs built a 16-foot-tall Victorian house out of 1,050 pounds of honey, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 800 pounds of flour, 140 pints of egg whites and 180 pounds of apricot glaze.
Fairmont San Francisco
Go big or go home! Fairmont San Francisco is exhibiting its largest-ever gingerbread house in 2017. It took a lot of elves and Santa’s helpers 375 hours to build this walk-through house using 10,250 pieces of gingerbread, 3,300 pounds of royal icing and 1,650 pounds of candy.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa—Oklahoma
Executive pastry chef Becca Foy and her culinary team know how to bake like rock stars at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. They began planning this gingerbread castle way back in July and started baking in October. It’s made up of 1,440 pounds of gingerbread, 200 pounds of butter, 600 pounds of sugar, 600 pounds of flour, 1,680 eggs, 10 pounds of cinnamon, 200 pounds of powdered sugar and 2,312 pieces of chocolate, peppermint and other candy.
Keystone Lodge & Spa—Colorado
It certainly took a village to build The Chocolate Village at Keystone Lodge & Spa. Opting for 7,000 pounds of chocolate instead of gingerbread, executive pastry chef Ned Archibald has continued this hotel’s tradition for almost 20 years. It includes an alpine village, a gondola, a waterfall, a 650-pound Christmas tree and trains all made of—you guessed it—chocolate!
Rancho Bernardo Inn—San Diego
Goody, goody gumdrops! Pastry chef Margaret Carvallo is behind this colorful gingerbread house inside Rancho Bernardo Inn. Guests can also enjoy carolers, photos with Santa, Christmas Tree Row and more at the hotel this holiday season.
The St. Regis Atlanta
On a break from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus greet guests outside this idyllic gingerbread house, the largest in the city, at The St. Regis Atlanta. It took approximately 500 hours to build it out of 300 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar, 10 pounds of spice, 70 pounds of shortening, 45 pounds of corn syrup and 16 pounds of molasses. It’s adorned with more than 300 pounds of royal icing, gingerbread figurines, poinsettias and candy.
The Dorchester— London
Across the pond in London, guests can enjoy chef Henry Brosi’s Gingerbread Hotel, made up of more than 8,000 pieces of gingerbread, baked in-house. It is a replica of the hotel’s facade on one side. On the other side, it looks like a dollhouse featuring special rooms within the hotel, such as The Penthouse and Pavilion, Dorchester Suites, afternoon tea at The Promenade and The Grill at The Dorchester restaurant.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island—Florida
Ahoy, matey. The S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship is docked once again inside the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. More than 600 pieces of gingerbread were used to build the boat, which includes fondant pirates, chocolate cannons and cannonballs.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples—Florida
The magnificent gingerbread house found at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is literally glowing with holiday cheer. The hotel’s annual display is comprised of 1,200 gingerbread bricks and more than 60,000 pieces of candy.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans
The city is nicknamed The Big Easy, but the gingerbread house inside The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans was anything but easy to build. It is modeled after the Wedding Cake House, a Victorian colonial-revival home located on the city’s St. Charles Avenue. The walk-through display was built using 750 sq. ft. of gingerbread.
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee—Greensboro, Georgia
Talk about the icing on the cake! 480 pounds of it, to be exact. That’s how much icing it took pastry chef David Campbell and his staff to build this ginormous gingerbread masterpiece inside The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. That, and 180 pounds of candy.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota—Florida
The Gingerbread Ship dropped its anchor at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota this holiday season. It pays tribute to the sea turtles that nest on the resort’s beach in true Florida fashion.
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
Keep looking up, and up, and up. The gingerbread sculpture inside The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. lobby is a scaled re-creation of the Washington Monument. You will need an extra-long measuring tape, because it reaches 30 feet in the air. It has blinking red lights for air traffic control at the top and 50 American flags on its base. After about 1,000 hours of labor, the finished monument took 900 pounds of icing, 600 pounds of white gingerbread sugar dough and 251 layers of stacked gingerbread stones to make.
Hotel Petaluma hosted its 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Showcase & Competition this month, encouraging local residents and businesses to submit entries. Participants, most if not all of them presumably amateur bakers, got quite elaborate with their yummy creations. Meeting professionals can use this as inspiration for a great team-building exercise. This tree house won a Petaluma People’s Choice Award.
The Omni Grove Park Inn—Ashville, North Carolina
Now in its 25th year, The Omni Grove Park Inn hosts the annual National Gingerbread House Competition, the largest in the United States. Entrants compete for more than $25,000 in cash and prizes. With big money at stake, designers bring their “A” game to construct entirely edible creations.