A Taste of Christmas Future
The Christmas season brings with it a blessing and a curse for event planners and creative directors. The traditions that haunt this time of year are often personal and deep-seated for clients. For this reason, the events they schedule often come with a predetermined list of decorations: strings of lights, one decorated evergreen tree, strands of garland, candles, and as many wreaths as you can hang.
What if these overplayed, traditional decorations were actually an opportunity to show your skill, expertise, and creativity? The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC has taken just this approach to its holiday decoration and is inspiring crowds of onlookers with its creations.
A seven-stop walking tour, called Holiday Sweet Scenes, leads visitors through the hotel’s lobby and onto an outdoor terrace. The scenes include imaginative décor designed to wow audiences with craftsmanship and shear scale. The most famous item on display is a recreation of an eight-foot Christmas tree made of 8,000 French macarons that drew crowds when they unveiled it last year. This year’s version involves the same astounding number of treats but in a new color palette. The labor-intensive project still took 58-hours of pastry cooking and assembly.
The tour starts with Santa’s sleigh sculpted out of chocolate and sugar that is accompanied by four chocolate reindeer. The sleigh serves as a drop-off point for guests to leave teddy bears as donations to the city’s Levine Children’s Hospital. Continuing with a theme of edibility, the next scene is a 12-foot-wide, elfin gingerbread cottage. The house, with its 10-foot-tall clock tower, is surrounded by a garden with live trees and Mark Roberts’ elves.
In addition to the 8-foot macaron tree is the “world’s largest croquembouche tree.” This incredible feat of construction is also 8-feet high and built out of 1,700 French profiteroles. In traditional fashion, the choux pastry balls are stacked in a conical shape and ringed with sweet caramel, but this croquembouche includes ornaments of gingerbread and pastillage.
Along with all of the edible displays are two peculiar approaches to the traditional Christmas trees. One, that towers above spectators on the outdoor terrace, is a 17-foot tall tree constructed from 789, recycled green plastic bottles. This earth-friendly display takes on an ethereal glow as rope lights shine through the green plastic. The other tree display includes two eight-foot-tall trees that are brightly lit and suspended upside down from the ceiling.
The final stop of the walking tour is the aptly named Candy-Land. This sweets overload is presented in conjunction with the dessert and chocolate shop housed in the hotel lobby, Bar Cocoa Boutique. The offerings include flavored marshmallows, peppermint candy gelato, and fancy hot chocolates. Some of the treats are sweetened with honey harvested from the beehive located on the hotel’s roof.
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte has done a wonderful job of taking the curse of dull, stuffy Christmas decorations and transforming them into creative, fresh displays to engage and inspire.
By Glendon Hodges, Catersource
eNews December 2014