Historic Hotels of America® offers travelers memorable ways to experience holiday traditions, many dating back decades if not centuries. Gingerbread houses are a German creation, perhaps inspired or popularized by the fairytale «Hansel and Gretel» in early 1800s. Immigrants to the United States brought ginger and gingerbread traditions with them. As an art form for pastry chefs and a sweet treat for children, gingerbread decorating is a tradition to unite the ages and it is a centerpiece for elegant lobbies at the world’s most prestigious hotels. Year after year, legendary hotels, resorts, and inns create magnificent gingerbread displays to delight and inspire guests. The 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays are the result of thousands of hours of culinary, pastry, confectionary, engineering, and carpentry teams working for weeks and even months to design, create, mix, bake, build or set up, and, of course, decorate. Collectively, the displays’ ingredients add up to thousands of pounds of sugar, eggs, and flour; hundreds of pounds of spices; more than 10,000 individual candies; and hundreds of gallons of molasses and honey. Feast your eyes, and enjoy!
The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia
The 2022 magnificent gingerbread display at The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) in Hot Springs, Virginia, is a massive gingerbread arch that Pastry Sous Chef Kelly Owen and Executive Chef Todd Owen installed with help from their team of pastry and culinary staffers. Built one gingerbread brick at a time, the archway is made from 200 pounds of gingerbread, 100 pounds of royal icing, and 20 pounds of candy. The gingerbread arch completely encompasses the entryway to the Lobby Bar in the center of the Great Hall. It took a little over two days to assemble, although a little more time went into the exacting detail work. During construction, a few lucky young guests got to sample some of the building materials. The Omni Homestead Resort is known for its extensive holiday decorations and displays, including spectacular gingerbread assemblies, such as one year’s giant gingerbread replica of the hotel’s iconic Tower and its gingerbread villages. This year’s arch brings gingerbread into the guest experience itself, inviting visitors to pass under it as they travel between the Great Hall and Lobby Bar, making it part of the very architecture of the historic hotel.
Woodstock Inn & Resort (1793) Woodstock, Vermont
The pastry elves at Woodstock Inn & Resort (1793) in Woodstock, Vermont, create a unique gingerbread house each year to delight guests and visitors. This season they have prepared a classic New England cottage with a little porch on the front. The display is built in the lobby for the holiday season where the scents of ginger and cinnamon greet guests. The display is up in time for the annual Woodstock Wassail Weekend (December 9-11) and can be viewed through New Year’s Day. This year’s gingerbread house is 6 ft. tall, 7 ft. long, 4 ½ ft. wide, and weighs about 600 pounds Five staff members worked on it throughout the fall and it took about 2 ½ weeks to complete. Children are invited to enter the house, where they can write a letter to Santa, enjoy a sweet treat, and sit by the fireplace—yes, installed inside the house! During the holidays, guests have an opportunity to decorate a small gingerbread house to take home. Gingerbread displays have been a tradition at the Woodstock Inn & Resort for the last seven years. Pastry Chef Philippe Niez brought the tradition over from his time spent working in the Black Forest region of Germany. Every year, the gingerbread house is a labor of love that gives the resort’s entire pastry team, “the pastry elves,” space to show creativity and share holiday joy with their guests.
Willard InterContinental Washington, DC (1818) Washington, D.C.
This year, the official gingerbread display at the Willard InterContinental Washington DC (1818) depicts the grand Willard Center. It is a gingerbread replica of the hotel itself, which is in the heart of the U.S. capital, two blocks from The White House. A celebrated historic hotel, the Willard InterContinental Washington, DC has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. The hotel’s architecture is memorable among the city’s grand buildings: a brilliant blend of Beaux-Arts-style architecture with a façade of finely cut white Indiana limestone and terracotta tile. The gingerbread display is a charming edible interpretation of the hotel, from its iconic slate-gray mansard roofs and distinct round windows to its striped blue and white awnings. Each year, the Willard InterContinental’s annual gingerbread display pays tribute to an iconic landmark in or around the capital. The Willard Center was chosen to be featured in gingerbread in 2022 as a testament and a thank you to the hotel’s team. The display will be open to the public through December. Guests are encouraged to visit it, perhaps while enjoying the nightly caroling performances or the festive lobby champagne bar. In 2022, the Willard Intercontinental Washington, D.C. is proud to be the hotel sponsor of the 2022 National Christmas Tree Lighting, which was held on the grounds of President’s Park, one of more than 400 U.S. national parks. As a part of this holiday activation, the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. launched a fundraising campaign to support its partners at the National Park Foundation.
The DeSoto (1834) Savannah, Georgia
Situated in the heart of Savannah, Georgia’s historic garden district, The DeSoto (1834) hotel partnered with a local public school for the first time in 2022 to produce a gingerbread community village. The DeSoto’s chefs and kitchen team started preparation for the village in October, mixing and baking dough, and selecting candies. The DeSoto team member Jessica Binkley, who coordinated the project, ensured the hotel’s undecorated gingerbread houses made their way to the partner school, where houses were assigned to participating classrooms. Once delivered, 313 students in grades K-8 took part in decorating the exteriors of The DeSoto’s gingerbread houses. Along with frosting, the houses were decorated with hundreds of candy ribbons, red and green chocolate drops, gummy bears, gum drops, Nerds, chocolate kisses, peppermint swirls, and candy canes. The decked-out gingerbread houses were then transported back to the hotel in November and set up in the hotel’s main lobby. The holiday gingerbread display is made up of 18 individual houses arranged as a village. “Each house is unique to the class that decorated it, and shows how, just like our staff and guests, ‘it takes a village’ to make something wonderful and bigger than ourselves,” Jessica Binkley said. Each of the classrooms that produced a gingerbread house received accolades, such as “Best Roof,” “Most Candy Used,” and “Best Overall Decoration.” Guests and visitors can see the community display in the hotel’s main lobby through the end of December.
French Lick Springs Hotel (1845) French Lick, Indiana
The spicy-sweet confectionary masterpiece at French Lick Springs Hotel (1845) in French Lick, Indiana, is a long-standing tradition that starts taking shape as early as August each year. The resort hotel’s pastry chefs, Brittany Fisher and Princess McCallister, put a fresh spin on the gingerbread house annually. The 2022 gingerbread house is 7 ft. wide, 8 ft. tall, with a gingerbread brick chimney and gingerbread slate shingles. Special this year is “Ed” the snowman, made from 100 pounds of Rice Krispies Treats. Ed is a tribute to Charles “Ed” Ballard, who sadly died this year after spending many years as a key member of the hotel bakery staff. With nearly 7 pounds of ginger used in baking, the unmistakable holiday aroma greets visitors before they even see the display. The final display—not including the surrounding décor—weighs in at about 750 pounds. As part of the holiday festivities during the resort’s 50 Days of Lights, children can visit with Santa on the weekends right next to the gingerbread house, or they can write a letter to Santa and have a personal reply sent to their home.
Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama
On Friday, November 25, the chefs at the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (1847) in Point Clear, Alabama, put the finishing touches on the massive confectionary version of the historic Mobile Bay resort. This piece of art is in the lobby of the resort’s historic main building. The brilliant resort village miniature is made from hundreds of pounds of gingerbread, thousands of colorful sweets, and 150 pounds of icing. The gingerbread village is a replica of the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa resort grounds and is approximately 16 ft. in length, 8 ft. wide and 1 ½ feet tall. Chef Kimberly and Chef Stephanie, plus 40 members of the Grand Hotel team, incorporated an “I Spy” game into the display for guests to discover fun features at the Grand, including the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa’s ducks in the outside ponds, Chef Kimberly’s dog, and Bucky’s fire pits. The buildings in the display include the Pool Pavilion, South Bay House, North Bay House, Marina House and Spa, complemented by replicas of beautiful hundred-year-old oak trees and marshmallow snow people. A working toy train runs a circuit inside the village, chugging along through the oaks and resort buildings. The pastry chefs and team members started working on the display in early October and finished on Thanksgiving Day. From making the dough, rolling it, cutting it, baking it, assembling it, and decorating the baked dough, the eight-week project is a Grand tradition, being part of the resort’s holiday celebrations since 2006.
Ingredients Spotlight: Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
- 150 lbs. flour
- 30 lbs. sugar
- 6 cups of cinnamon
- 6 cups of ginger
- 24 lbs. molasses
- 20 lbs. assorted candy
- 10 lbs. coconut
- 10 lbs. chocolate
- Fused together and frosted with 150 lbs. of royal icing
Wentworth By The Sea Marriott Hotel & Spa (1874) New Castle, New Hampshire
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the island of New Castle, New Hampshire, Wentworth By The Sea Marriott Hotel & Spa (1874) welcomes guests to celebrate the December holidays at one of the last grand Portsmouth hotels. Among its holiday offerings and amenities is its magnificent gingerbread house. The grand gingerbread house has been a tradition at the resort since it reopened in 2003. The hotel’s 2022 gingerbread display is a Tudor-style house unveiled during the annual holiday lighting on December 6. It measures 7 ft. wide and 5 ½ ft. tall. With an estimated weight of over 600 pounds, the display is composed of over 40 pounds of butter, 130 pounds of sugar, 24 pounds of molasses, and 90 pounds of flour, plus adorned with approximately 1,000 pieces of candy and 2,000 cookie shingles. “You can smell gingerbread when you walk into the lobby,” Dean Pratt, food & beverage director, said. “We try to display a different style of house each year. Last year, we did a Victorian style house, something like you see all throughout New England. This year, we made a Tudor style house. We looked at a few different real houses to find inspiration for the final result.” The magnificent gingerbread house is located at the main hotel, near the Wentworth By The Sea Marriott Hotel & Spa hotel ballrooms and can be viewed by guests and visitors through December.
The St. James Hotel MN (1875) Red Wing, Minnesota
A stay at the St. James Hotel (1875) in Red Wing, Minnesota is a trip into the past, and visitors can certainly glimpse the past when they see the hotel’s 2022 gingerbread display. The St. James Hotel is one of the best Italianate structures standing in all of Minnesota and the display reflects its architectural richness. The 70-pound creation was designed to capture the look of the original historic hotel and general store. The gingerbread hotel miniature measures 2 ft. tall, 2 ½ ft. wide, and 3 ft. long and it weighs 70 pounds. The creation required 25 pounds of flour, 1.25 gallons of corn syrup, 6 ½ pounds of margarine, a pound of cinnamon, and 40 pounds of powdered sugar. The hotel’s pastry chef started the annual gingerbread display tradition at the St. James Hotel three years ago with the goal of adding a fun holiday project to the staff’s season. This year, Chef Amy worked for a week to bake and carefully decorate the display. The display was a part of a gingerbread display contest featuring over 20 displays. The gingerbread hotel display is currently located in the Courtyard of the St. James Hotel. The display can be enjoyed by the public, any time, but it was a popular draw during the town’s Red Wing Holiday Stroll, held on November 25 of this year, when the hotel featured a Red Wing Gandy Dancer Train Display, gingerbread contest, and carolers in the courtyard.
Hotel Colorado (1893) Glenwood Springs, Colorado
The life-size, interactive holiday gingerbread house at Hotel Colorado (1893) in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, encapsulates the hotel’s Legends Coffee & Gift Shop and welcomes guests to participate in a seriously sweet shopping experience. The gingerbread house is 16 ft. high, 12 ft. long, and 14 ft. wide, and built from 311 pounds of gingerbread and 8 gallons of frosting. The gingerbread to make the house required one week to bake and build. Four people worked together to assemble the house. The gingerbread display at Hotel Colorado is a time-honored tradition and has been a major part of its holiday displays for the past 15 years. Although it has moved locations a few times, it is now a tradition to build it around the exterior of the Legends Coffee & Gift Shop. Naturally, with over 300 pounds of gingerbread displayed, the halls of the historic hotel are filled with the aroma of molasses and ginger. The gingerbread house is on display purely as part of the hotel’s large-scale holiday décor. The hotel is open to anyone to visit, take photos, and enjoy the beautiful display.
The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California
For over a century, The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) has enchanted guests with its joyful holiday festivities and seasonal ambiance in the “The City by the Bay.” One of the hotel’s most-spectacular annual traditions is its stunning gingerbread house. At the end of November each year, the hotel lobby transforms into one of the world’s most beloved holiday destinations, where cherished memories for locals and visitors alike are created. The highlight of this awe-inspiring exhibit is the glowing, two-story Victorian-style gingerbread house, adorned in hundreds of pounds of See’s Candies® iconic sweets, located in the hotel’s grand lobby. Lovingly built with a completely edible exterior, the delectable abode was constructed by the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco’s talented culinary team, led by Executive Chef Michael Quigley. The house stands at over 22 ft. high and 23 ft. wide and includes thousands of baked gingerbread bricks. The hotel partnered with See’s Candies to decorate its gingerbread house and holiday displays this year. Hundreds of pounds of See’s Candies—including their iconic lollypops, sour candies, and chocolate confections—were artfully placed on the breathtaking build, creating a true work of art. The house itself contains more than 7,750 pieces of gingerbread, 1,500 pounds of royal icing, and hundreds of pounds of candy. The culinary team spent approximately 375 hours creating the gingerbread house and the engineering department worked 520 hours to construct its framework. The hotel, which was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2001, maintains its commitment to the environment each year by ensuring the display’s framework is recycled and the edible ingredients are composted. Guests and visitors are invited to come experience the aroma and vision between November 26, 2022, and New Year’s Day 2023.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel (1909) Cooperstown, New York
Located within the Cooperstown Historic District in Cooperstown, New York, The Otesaga Resort Hotel (1909) is a historic seasonal resort that exudes elegance and authenticity. This holiday season, Cooperstown history is brought to life within the resort hotel’s 2022 gingerbread village display. Described by staff as a “Norman Rockwell-style, all-American village,” the display is 4 ½ ft. wide and 7 ft. long, weighing about 100 pounds that includes 26 pounds of gingerbread dough, 44 pounds of powdered sugar, 1 gallon of egg whites, and over 600 candies, cookies, and decorative cereal pieces. Five people were involved in making the gingerbread village, and it took them 16 hours over three days to mix, cut, roll, cut and bake the pieces. It took them another 32 hours over two days to assemble and decorate the village. The display is set up in the main lobby. The holiday gingerbread display has been a tradition at The Otesaga Resort Hotel since the early 1990s. This December, the resort offers gingerbread house decorating and cookie decorating activities for guests both young and young at heart.
JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District (1912) Savannah, Georgia
Located in a fabulously repurposed power plant in Savannah, Georgia, the historic and elegant JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District (1912) is a contemporary riverside retreat. In December, visitors can discover the holiday spirit in the hotel’s magnificent gingerbread display as well as its Savannah Christmas Market®, holiday dinners, and cookie decorating. The hotel’s magnificent gingerbread display is an annual tradition, with a fresh design each year. This year’s display is a frosty white and gold Victorian cottage, complete with golden floral designs and fluffy, icy snow. Production required eight members from the pastry team, to work on it for over 120 hours. The team began baking in October and completed assembly on November 19. The Victorian gingerbread house is 12 ft. tall and 11 ft. wide. It is decorated with 288 lollipops, 20 pounds of rock candy, 36 pounds of gumballs, 750 gingerbread roof tiles, over 1,000 sable bricks, 5 pounds of gold dust, and 25 pounds of M&M’s® to decorate. Construction required over 500 pounds of flour and 480 pounds of powdered sugar. The JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District’s gingerbread house display is located off the main lobby of the powerplant building in front of the historic smokestack.
The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina
The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) in Asheville, North Carolina, not only displays a magnificent gingerbread display in its lobby this December; it also hosts The 30th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition™ in November 2022. The hotel’s singular magnificent display is The Great Gingerbread House, which is modeled after the historic resort’s exterior and reaches from floor to ceiling in the hotel’s Great Hall. It consists of 400 pounds of powdered sugar, 64 pounds of egg whites, and 160 pounds of bread flour. The display is the result of a team of 15, including executive chefs and a carpentry expert, working a combined 500 scheduled hours over the course of 25 days. Guests can walk through the Inn to admire the intricate details of the life-size display, as well as browse the displays of entries from The 30th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition, including winning creations. The displays are featured beginning November 28, 2022 and continue through January 2, 2023. Guests not staying at the Resort are invited to view the display after 6 p.m. on Sundays or any time Monday through Thursday, based on parking availability and excluding holidays and select dates.
Chatham Bars Inn (1914) Chatham, Massachusetts
The town of Chatham, Massachusetts, comes to life in the sweetest way through the Chatham Bars Inn (1914) seaside resort’s gingerbread village this December. The gingerbread display is 16 ft. long by 8 ft. wide and features significant landmark buildings from the town of Chatham in addition to the hotel, including the Train Museum, Chatham Bars Inn, The Chatham Squire, Chatham Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station, Orpheum Theater, church, and fish pier. Molded waves lap sugary sand at the edges of the gingerbread village and fondant evergreens dot the candy landscape. It has built-to-scale cars and boats in the landscape, and a working train on a track throughout the gingerbread display. The gingerbread village is displayed in the hotel lobby across from the front desk. The gingerbread team spends an estimated 250 hours working on the display each year, to mix, bake, and set it up. During the holiday season, the inn hosts several Gingerbread Workshops where the award-winning pastry team bakes and assembles gingerbread houses and guests have the fun part, decorating them with an array of edible frosting and candy, making the experience fun, easy and delicious. Guests also enjoy complimentary cookies, cocoa and coffee while creating their masterpieces. Over 20 gallons of royal icing, 1,000 gingerbread shingles, and 10 pounds of fondant — all created with over 70 pounds of powdered sugar and more than 100 eggs — turn a tabletop into an ocean-side winter wonderland. The gingerbread display at Chatham Bars Inn is a beloved time-honored tradition cherished by all guests of the Inn and visitors of all ages.
The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado
Magnificent gingerbread displays have been a grand holiday tradition at The Broadmoor (1918) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, since 1964. This year, instead of a traditional gingerbread house or building, the 2022 display has wheels: a vintage car made of gingerbread and chocolate that might make Santa want to reconsider his sleigh. Visitors can find the display parked in the resort’s main building mezzanine. The headlights and windows are all sugar, and, except for the car frame, tree topping, and Santa, this gingerbread display is completely edible. This year’s life-sized gingerbread display drew inspiration from The Broadmoor’s founder Spencer Penrose and his 1937 Flathead V-8 Cadillac Touring Car. The automobile was initially purchased as a part of the hotel’s separate fleet of limousines and served two purposes: transporting Broadmoor guests to and from the hotel and sightseeing excursions. Today’s sugary-sweet version of the car will remain parked at the resort for all to enjoy through New Year’s Day. Previous gingerbread displays have included edible versions of the resort’s intricate Pauline Chapel, a giant train car (the “Cog Railway”), and The Broadmoor Special, a 1918 Pierce Arrow Touring Car. For those interested in learning about the resort’s historic collection and real-life vintage vehicles, the Penrose Heritage Museum has Mrs. Julie Penrose’s 1928 custom Cadillac limousine on display.
Ingredients Spotlight: The Broadmoor (“a breakdown of parts”)
- 958 lbs. of powdered sugar
- 475 lbs. of flour
- 1,801 eggs
- 3 “ho’ ho’ ho’s!”
- 19 lbs. of holiday spices
- 200 lbs. of granulated sugar
- 128 lbs. of molasses
- 2 “shakes of a nutcracker!”
- 164 lbs. of dark chocolate
- 89 lbs. of butter
- 6 “uh ohs!”
- 10 lbs. of heavy cream
- 160 chocolate bars
- 40 lbs. of silver chocolate
- 1 dark chocolate steering wheel
- 6 sugar hubcaps
La Fonda on the Plaza (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico
Every year in mid-December, the decorating masters at La Fonda on the Plaza (1922) roll out a majestic 2 ½ ft. by 2 ½ ft. gingerbread replica of the adobe hotel to display in the lobby. For decades, the masterpiece was spearheaded by the Santa Fe, New Mexico, hotel’s former purchasing manager, Gil Mesa (b. 1949 – d. 2021). La Fonda continues the tradition of honoring Mr. Mesa’s legacy during the holiday season. In honor of this year’s 100th anniversary of La Fonda, Chef Lane Warner carried on Mr. Mesa’s legacy with a decked-out stucco structure, sporting traditional décor and details inspired by the hotel’s past. With artistic nods to famous railway hotelier Fred Harvey, pioneering designer and architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, architect John Gaw Meem, and the famous Harvey Girls, the sweet scene harkens back to the early era of La Fonda hospitality. After assembly, the culinary crew spent hours crafting powdered sugar tipped pine trees, glazed sugar-painted windows (in tribute to artist Ernesto Martinez, best known for his whimsical paintings on the windowpanes in La Plazuela), and finishing with stiff royal icing, depicting the frosty high-desert snow of New Mexico. Finally, no La Fonda gingerbread house is complete without traditional farolitos (paper lanterns) illuminated with LED lights to celebrate the season. La Fonda debuts the gingerbread hotel mid-December for guests and locals to enjoy.
Historic Americus Hotel (1926) Allentown, Pennsylvania
Built in 1926, Historic Americus Hotel (1926) in Allentown, Pennsylvania is a Jazz-Age hotel boasting rich details and historic features in the heart of Lehigh Valley. Meticulously restored to its glory days., the hotel was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2022. This December, its gingerbread display is a replica of the historic hotel, and it is displayed in the hotel’s lobby for guests, associates, and visitors to enjoy throughout the holiday season. The gingerbread hotel was designed and produced by Chef Ken Bozzi, with help from the hotel’s managing director and general manager. It took them a week to complete. The display required 16 pounds of powdered sugar, 25 pounds of brown sugar, 100 pounds of flour, 2 cups of cinnamon, 2 cups of ginger, 2 cups of cloves, 2 cups of baking soda, 6 pounds of gum drops, 1 dozen sugar ornaments, 3 pounds of Rice Krispie Treats™, 1 pound of fondant, and 24 pounds of butter. The final display is 3 ft. long, 16 in. wide, and 3 ft. high. Except for the lights, this gingerbread hotel is completely edible. The staff at Historic Americus Hotel are proud to introduce the display as the first gingerbread creation in a new annual tradition.
Hilton Chicago (1927) Chicago, Illinois
The Hilton Chicago welcomed guests and locals to the unveiling of its magnificent holiday gingerbread hotel on November 18, an event that was part of the Chicago, Illinois, hotel’s annual lighting ceremony of the majestic holiday tree in its Grand Hall. Lovingly crafted by Executive Chef Mario Garcia and Pastry Chef Wing Au, the holiday gingerbread display pays homage to the city of Chicago and incorporates a stunning gingerbread replica of Hilton Chicago, Soldier Field, and more. Standing over 6 ft. high, it took three pastry chefs nearly 300 hours to create and includes 380 pounds of flour, 16 pounds of ginger, 16 pounds of cinnamon, and 16,000 gingerbread bricks. The sweet historic hotel is placed near the lobby’s 24 ft. holiday tree, which is decorated annually with thousands of metallic ornaments, and which both together are the centerpieces for the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling décor with 2,000 inches of decorated garland, a 2 ½ ft. poinsettia “kissing ball,” and 60-ft. wreaths. The Hilton Chicago welcomes guests and locals to visit the lobby area and make the gingerbread hotel and skyline the ultimate backdrop for seasonal holiday photos and Instagram-worthy moments.
Hilton Milwaukee City Center (1928) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Hilton Milwaukee City Center’s distinctive Art Deco architecture has graced the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, skyline for over 90 years, and this year, that skyline can be viewed in gingerbread miniature in the hotel’s lobby. This year, the display is an homage to the vibrant revival of the city after the pandemic. The gingerbread display is an annual tradition that was on hold for the past two years, but it is back in 2022. The Hilton Milwaukee City Center (1928) magnificent gingerbread display features some of the most recognizable buildings in the city of Milwaukee: the Fiserv Forum, The Milwaukee Art Museum, the US Bank Building, and the historic Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel. The display weighs 25 pounds, composed of 18 pounds of gingerbread, 2 pounds of royal icing, and 5 pounds of candy. It is 4 ft. tall at its highest point, the gingerbread-gumdrop radio tower atop the hotel. Around the iced gingerbread buildings is a snowy cityscape of gnomes, elves, reindeer, LEGO® people, and frosty pine trees. The display is in the hotel lobby through the end of the year.
Skytop Lodge (1928) Skytop, Pennsylvania
The magnificent gingerbread hotel display at Skytop Lodge (1928) in Skytop, Pennsylvania, measures 19 ft. wide by 12 ft. deep and reaches a height of 11 ft. from its base. Production on the gingerbread hotel began in early September 2022, and lodge staff began assembling the display in late October. Once the frame was erected, the entire bakery team—led by Executive Chef Matthew Klutz—labored to attach the gingerbread and then the candy decorations. The icing used in the Skytop Lodge gingerbread display required 400 pounds of powdered sugar. Containing 720 pounds flour, 11 pounds gingerbread spices, 90 pounds shortening, 825 eggs, 180 pounds molasses, and over 10 pounds of candies, the total weight is 2,301 pounds. The display required over 257 hours of labor by the hotel team. This holiday season, Skytop Lodge guests are invited to join in holiday activities including gingerbread cookie decorating, a tree lighting ceremony every Saturday, with Santa’s arrival by horse drawn sleigh and opportunities to take photos with the man in red himself in front of the magnificent gingerbread hotel.
Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection (1939) Williamsburg, Virginia
The Williamsburg Lodge (1938) at the Colonial Williamsburg Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, created a gingerbread Holiday Ski Resort for kids of all ages during the 2022 holiday season. This gingerbread village is a landscape of frosted seasonal activity, where visitors can see the village miniatures caroling, skiing, and choosing their holiday tree. Elves and chefs are hard at work within frosted gingerbread walls, and, just like guests can do in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square, figurines skate on the gingerbread village ice rink. At least six gingerbread pastry experts worked over 300 hours, collectively, on this detailed gingerbread fantasy world. The village required 90 pounds of icing, 5 pounds of gum paste, 125 pounds of flour, 30 pounds of butter, 28 pounds of brown sugar, 2 cups of ginger, and 4 cups of cinnamon. It includes nine buildings, and the height of the largest building is 17 inches. The display is in the lobby of the Williamsburg Lodge and will be there through the end of December. Visiting this display is one of many ways to celebrate the holiday season in Colonial Williamsburg. Visitors to Williamsburg Lodge also can send letters to Santa and purchase tasty holiday treats from the bakeshop.
Alisal Ranch (1946) Solvang, California
Alisal Ranch (1946) in Solvang, California, partners each year with Solvang Bakery to create charming gingerbread replicas of the ranch’s barn, front office, library, boat house, and a guest cottage. The houses are each about a foot wide and they are arranged in a display of fluffy “snow,” illuminated with fairy lights, and embellished with sparkling baubles and fir boughs. The houses are accompanied by charming ranch details, such as miniature hay bales, horses, friendly golden retrievers, and barn cats. These ranch-inspired gingerbread houses are on display in the resort’s dining room starting December 12. For construction, the Solvang Bakery used approximately 100 pounds of gingerbread dough and 75 pounds of icing to produce the display, which involved the labor of six people who worked for about three weeks to produce the sweet, miniature dude ranch. In addition to an eye-catching festive display, each guest staying at Alisal Ranch between December 23-25 will also be gifted a personalized gingerbread house decorating kit, providing a fun family activity to do on-site, or to take home as a celebration of holiday memories made at Alisal Ranch.
Rancho Bernardo Inn (1963) San Diego, California
The magnificent gingerbread house display at Rancho Bernardo Inn (1963) in San Diego, California, is a relatively recent tradition for the 58-year-old retreat, but it has become much-beloved part of the resort’s annual celebration since 2009. While the gingerbread house is a little different each year, with its own style and delights, the display is always built with the mission of bringing whimsy and joy to the hotel staff, guests, and visitors around the holidays. The 2022 gingerbread house was designed to illustrate the magical, over-the-top joy and fun of the holidays through a child’s eyes. Playful pinks, blues, and yellows dominate the decoration color scheme. The house is a perfectly over-the-top exhibit of colorful dessert walls and candy-crusted gables. The gingerbread is decked with ice cream cones, candy canes, lollipops, and pinwheels, and other fanciful sweets—all surrounded in fluffy white cotton snow. Streamers hang around the display to simulate snow falling. Over 400 pounds of candy, fondant, meringue, and food decorations are used to adorn the display. The total estimated weight is 2,828 pounds. Construction of this eccentric display required a team of about six, including bakers, pastry cooks, and resort engineering team members working over 300 hours. Construction took four days. The edible house is off-limits to hungry visitors, of course, but the public is invited to purchase “gingerbread bags,” samples of treats from the house, at Café Granada. The Rancho Bernardo Inn gingerbread house is centrally located near the main lobby and the resort’s two main restaurants, AVANT and Veranda Fireside Lounge & Restaurant.
Hotel Captain Cook (1965) Anchorage, Alaska
The creator and designer of the annual Gingerbread Village at Hotel Captain Cook (1965) in Anchorage, Alaska, has been constructing and designing gingerbread displays for over 38 years. Pastry Chef Joe Hickel’s gingerbread village is now on display at the Hotel Captain Cook through the end of the year. Comprised of over 50 structures and utilizing 1,000 pounds of icing, 900 pounds of powdered sugar, 800 pounds of gingerbread, and 125 pounds of chocolate, the village is approximately 4 ft. high atop a 16-by-16 ft. table. Joe Hickel and three pastry chefs started creating the parts of the village in mid-July and worked on the project for 30 hours a week until November. Construction began in mid-November and was completed on December 5, 2022. Visitors and guests can see the Captain Cook Gingerbread Village just outside the Whales Tails restaurant located inside the hotel. Can’t make it to Anchorage? Hotel Captain Cook takes the cake for digital savvy: view the gingerbread village through live camera streams and see a time-lapse video of its construction at CaptainCookChristmas.com/.
The Lodge at Nemacolin (1968) Farmington, Pennsylvania
The grand gingerbread holiday display is a long-standing tradition at the Nemacolin resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, where guests at the historic Lodge at Nemacolin (1968) enjoy the charm and festivity of gingerbread each year. In past years, cottage-sized gingerbread houses have graced the lobby in the resort’s The Chateau, an award-winning hotel whose architecture was inspired by European palaces. This holiday season, Nemacolin features a candy-covered model replica of The Chateau. The hotel replica is a sweet-laden, frosted creation with gumdrop windows and candy cane colonnades. Guests can do more than marvel at this yummy masterpiece: Nemacolin invites guests to join in the sugary fun this season and decorate their own gingerbread house. On Saturdays in December before Christmas Day, guests—the resort’s star amateur gingerbread designers—are invited to work under the guidance of Nemacolin’s expert pastry chefs and decorate a delicious domicile to take home after their stay.
“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, travelers can view life-size historic hotels, national monuments, historic buildings, and historic main streets made of gingerbread. A large party of people can dine in the more-than-life-sized gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Vice President, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Congratulations to the hundreds of people that worked to create the 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gingerbread displays. This holiday season, ‘run, run as fast as you can’ and catch the most magnificent gingerbread houses and displays at many Historic Hotels of America.”
About Historic Hotels of America®
Historic Hotels of America® is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing, celebrating, and promoting the finest historic hotels in the United States of America. To be nominated and selected for membership in this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historical significance. Of the more than 300 historic hotels inducted into Historic Hotels of America from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, all historic hotels faithfully preserve their sense of authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity. For more information, please visit HistoricHotels.org/US.