WASHINGTON, D.C.—Historic Hotels of America recently named 2018’s Top 25 Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays at historic hotels. From almost life-size replicas of a historic hotel to intricate and detailed edible villages, there are a variety of gingerbread creations cropping up across U.S. lodging properties this holiday season.
“The tradition of gingerbread fairy-tale houses reportedly started in the United States more than 200 years ago with the German immigrants to Pennsylvania. Today, one of the world’s largest gingerbread houses is created and baked (in parts of course) at the Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania. Across the country, 11 people can dine in the more than life-sized gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco,” said Lawrence Horwitz, executive director Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Each is a work of culinary artistry. We are pleased to recognize the many historic hoteliers, pastry chefs, carpenters, and other artisans that have created these wonderful gingerbread displays.”
1Hanover Inn Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. (1780)
Hanover Inn Executive Chef Justin Dain and Pastry Chef Pam Brochu are known for the extravagant gingerbread villages they create each year. The construction of this creation takes the entire month of November and is displayed in the center of the lobby. It takes about 60 hours of time to create this gingerbread village. This year’s edible creation is a gingerbread village, Whoville, celebrating the 125th anniversary of Mary Hitchcock Hospital, now Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
2Omni Bedford Resort & Spa in Bedford, Pa. (1806)
The historic Omni Bedford Resort has a staff of six that creates the more-than-200-pound gingerbread house. This year’s gingerbread creation used over 120 eggs, 18 pounds of honey, and nine pounds of bread shortening.
3The Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C. (1818)
Every year, The Willard’s pastry department works to create a gingerbread display that pays tribute to an iconic landmark around the nation’s capital. This year’s display honors Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which first opened for business on June 16, 1941. Spearheaded by Jason Jimenez (Executive Pastry Chef), Magenta Livengood (Pastry Cook), and David Sanabria (Engineer), and assisted by the hotel’s entire pastry team, the design of the gingerbread display began in late September, with construction beginning in November. Taking over 350 hours, this display weighs nearly 400 pounds and contains more than 100 LED lights, 30 feet of electrical wire, 306 pieces of gingerbread, and 30 pounds of fondant standing as the runways. It also includes a live audio feed from DCA’s control tower.
4French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana (1845)
This year, the historic French Lick Springs Hotel is being recreated in gingerbread. The gingerbread hotel is still crafted the same way as the gingerbread houses from prior years, as everything guests will see on the exterior is edible—from the gingerbread made from scratch in the bakery to the sugary stained-glass windows and snowflakes and other adornments that make it sparkle. The gingerbread creation has taken 500 to 600 combined work hours to create and can be seen at the hotel through January 6.
5Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Point Clear, Ala. (1847)
This year, the Grand Hotel has created a massive gingerbread replica of the resort. The pastry chefs at the Grand Hotel started working on the display in late October and finished on Thanksgiving Day. From making the dough, rolling, cutting, baking, assembling, and decorating it, the four-week project is a tradition at the property. This year’s creation uses more than 150 pounds of flour and 150 pounds of royal icing.
6Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. (1869)
Mohonk Mountain House is hosting the third annual Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition. Mohonk invites guests, members of the local community, and employees to construct their best gingerbread creation for a chance to have it displayed throughout the resort during the holiday season. A panel of local judges selects three prize winners and two honorable mentions in three categories (adult, junior, and employee) and the top five finishers will have their creations put on display throughout the hotel. In addition, Mohonk has created a self-guided Gingerbread Tour for all to explore the winning creations during the month of December. The top three winners in each category are awarded prizes from Mohonk Mountain House.
7The Peabody Memphis in Memphis, Tenn. (1869)
This year, The Peabody Memphis’ gingerbread display was inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The gingerbread creation is more than 20 feet wide and located near the valet entrance of the hotel. It includes over 300 pounds of flour, 160 eggs, and 117 pounds of molasses. In 2009, the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef who created this year’s gingerbread creation won the Food Network Challenge: Giant Gingerbread Houses.
8Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, in Chicago (1871)
The holidays are about tradition and one of those notable Chicago holiday traditions is the installation of the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel’s Holiday Hearth at the entrance of the hotel and is on display throughout the holiday season. The gingerbread holiday hearth is the creation of Executive Pastry Chef Bouet from Lyons, France, representing over 150 hours of work, 250 pounds of freshly made gingerbread, 20 pounds of royal icing, and 90 pounds of Belgian Chocolate.
9Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, N.H. (1874)
Wentworth by the Sea’s gingerbread house weighs over 600 pounds and is more than 10 feet tall and took eight people six days to create and decorate. The gingerbread creation is a replica of the historic Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa. Included in this creation are the following: gingerbread cookies, licorice, peppermint, icing, colored gingersnap cookies, and assorted hard candies.
10The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va. (1895)
This year’s gingerbread inspiration was the classic Christmas poem, The Night Before Christmas. The structure is a depiction of a fictional house awaiting the arrival of Santa. The pastry team of five worked an average of six hours per day for 20 days to complete this year’s confectionary creation. Weighing over 600 pounds, this gingerbread display includes more than 200 pounds of royal icing and 20 pounds of peppermint candies. The display is unveiled at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and will remain at the hotel for viewing through New Year’s Day.
11Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. (1895)
This year’s gingerbread village is a complete recreation of landmarks from the Village of Pinehurst, including the Village Chapel, Carolina Hotel, and other cottages from around Pinehurst. The village requires 14 tables to support more than 80 pounds of gingerbread. It takes a staff of 12 three months to complete and requires engineers, an electrician, audio-visual setup staff to work around the pastry crew from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. non-stop. Fifty gallons of royal icing and over 70 pounds of assorted candies are used for this creation, complete with a train around the village.
12The Fairmont San Francisco (1907)
Fairmont San Francisco’s two-story, life-sized Gingerbread House in the hotel’s grand lobby has become a must-see attraction for guests from near and far. Fairmont San Francisco’s culinary and engineering teams have joined forces to meticulously plan construction of this year’s enormous Gingerbread House, which will be even larger than last year’s two-story-high Victorian. Once complete, the edible abode will stand more than 25 feet high, 35 feet wide, and 10.5 feet deep and will feature more than 6,000 house-made gingerbread bricks (the largest bricks to date), 1,650 pounds of candy, and 3,300 pounds of royal icing. The Gingerbread House now offers a private dining space for up to 10 guests.
13Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. (1913)
It all began with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members in 1992 as another way to celebrate the holiday season with no plans to continue the following year. More than two decades later, The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition is one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events. The 26th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition was held on Monday, November 19, 2018. The winning creations will be on display through January 4, 2019.
14Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh (1916)
This year’s gingerbread house is a replica of the historic Omni William Penn, dating back to 1916. Located in the lobby for all guests to admire from mid-November through January, this gingerbread house took 80 hours to complete using all of the hotel’s culinary team and measuring in at five feet tall and three feet wide. Over 200 pounds of gingerbread, 48 pounds of powdered sugar, and 252 mint candies were used when creating this replica gingerbread hotel.
15The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. (1918)
The Broadmoor is wrapping up its centennial year celebration with its largest gingerbread display to date: a 13 ft. replica of the 1918 resort. A holiday tradition since 1964, this year’s Broadmoor gingerbread display honors its heritage. The Broadmoor’s gingerbread display took more than 10 master pastry chefs and two carpenters over 220 hours to create and includes 958 pounds of powdered sugar, 650 eggs, and 475 pounds of flour. Over the years The Broadmoor has come up with some innovative and ambitious gingerbread displays, including a full-size steam engine in 2016 and a 13-foot-tall chapel in 2017.
16The Drake, a Hilton Hotel, in Chicago (1920)
The Drake, a Hilton Hotel, has constructed a gingerbread village with Gloria Hafer and After School Matters Students. Each student has designed and assembled their own gingerbread house to create a confectionary holiday inspired gingerbread village. This is a process that takes over 80 hours and incorporates 300 pounds of confectioner sugar, 20 pounds of meringue mix, 150 pounds of candies, and 45 sheet pans of gingerbread.
17La Fonda in Santa Fe, N.M. (1922)
La Fonda on the Plaza traditionally creates a Gingerbread Hotel every holiday season that occupies a center space in the lobby. Chef Lane and his team put more than 24 hours of work into duplicating the gingerbread structure that is La Fonda. The final hotel illustrates the shape of the hotel with kiva ladders added, tootsie rolls for the wooden vigas, actual mini-farolitos light on top of the multitude of levels, decorated trees, and La Fonda signage. The structure is completed by hand and is set up in the middle of the lobby at La Fonda. The weight is estimated to be about 50 pounds.
18The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky. (1923)
The Brown Hotel has continued their annual tradition of using gingerbread and sweets to build a holiday structure. This year’s theme is Santa’s Elf House. It took 40 pounds of gingerbread, 18 pounds of royal icing, and three days to create this gingerbread piece. It is located on the second-floor of the hotel through the remainder of 2018.
19Omni San Francisco Hotel (1926)
This year, the hotel has hosted an Omni Associate gingerbread house decorating competition. Each department of the hotel staff—including housekeeping, food and beverage, and sales—will be given a kit and several pounds of candy. Once the houses are complete, they will be displayed in the lobby where guests will be invited to vote on the house they believe to be the most creative, uses the materials in the most innovative way, and is the most aesthetically pleasing. All guests who vote will be entered in a raffle to win a stay at the Omni San Francisco Hotel.
20Hilton Chicago (1927)
This six-foot gingerbread hotel replica uses 300 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of powdered sugar, and 16,000 gingerbread bricks and weighs over 750 pounds. Three pastry chefs worked to create this masterpiece totaling over 270 hours of work to get the gingerbread creation completed. It took 16,500 individual gingerbread ‘bricks” and 300 “windows” to create the scene. This year’s display features notable Chicago landmarks including the Historic Hilton Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, Willis Tower, John Hancock Tower, and the Cloud Gate, among others. Every Saturday from November 17th through December 15th, the hotel will have a cookie decorating station for kids by the Gingerbread Hotel.
21Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle (1927)
The Mayflower Park Hotel has created an intricate and detailed gingerbread village this year, consisting of four houses and a hotel. A gingerbread replica of the 91-year-old Mayflower Park Hotel is prominently displayed in the middle of the edible village. Guests can peek inside and see the front desk and the lobby chandelier. Visitors and guests of the hotel who visit during the holiday season are encouraged to vote for their favorite house. This was an all-hotel effort to get this project done.
22The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park in Hawley, Pa. (1927)
The historic Settlers Inn has an annual gingerbread. The windows of the gingerbread house have intricate details with noted similarities to the Inn. This replica of the hotel features most details of the hotel including the sign out front. It takes three days to bake and assemble—about 28 hours of total manpower to put together.
23Skytop Lodge in Skytop, Pa. (1928)
The 2018 gingerbread display at Skytop Lodge is an 11-foot-tall and 19-foot-wide structure that began assembly in August and was erected in the hotel at the end of October. Using 250 pounds of powdered sugar and 60 pounds of egg whites just for the icing alone, this life-sized gingerbread house can be seen at the hotel through the end of the year. More than 1,000 hours of labor and a few thousand pounds of gingerbread went into making this year’s display. The theme of the gingerbread creation for this year is Skytop Lodge itself, with bakers replicating resort’s main building in edible form.
24The Edgewater in Madison, Wis. (1948)
The historic Edgewater’s gingerbread display features a 30-inch-wide by 22-inch-tall replica of the neighboring Wisconsin State Capitol, situated just three blocks from Madison’s historic urban resort. Created solely by new Pastry Chef Paul Trecroci, who has been designing gingerbread sculptures for 13 years, the 25-pound display consists of 80 pieces of gingerbread and involved 30 hours of work—two days of baking gingerbread pieces and making the windows and five days of assembling and decorating. The gingerbread sculpture has sugar windows, royal icing, candy canes, assorted gummy bears, chocolate bars, skittles, gum, M&M’s, and licorice.
25Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Ala. (1964)
The gingerbread village at this historic hotel is named Marina’s Village after owner and pastry chef Joe Hickel’s oldest daughter. The estimated weight of the village is more than 1,000 pounds, using 700 pounds of gingerbread. Measuring over 17 inches in height, the Christmas village has gingerbread houses named after longtime employees and friends of the hotel. The gingerbread houses are started every July and completed in November. The village is assembled typically the third week of November and is completed the first of December.