Apart from the ubiquitous Christmas tree decorations and lights, there's another thing to look forward to in hotels - their Christmas pastry shops. While most are content to display their seasonal wares in garden variety chiller or shelf displays, there are those who go all out to create a mini fantasy land filled with fragrant gingerbread and yule logs.
Shining brightly this year is the Candy Sweet Christmas tree of Shangri-La, Singapore, which combines Christmas decorations and festive treats - make that 150 candy arrangements and lollipops - in one impressive 5m tall tree.
The brainchild of Reto K Klauser, vice-president and general manager of Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, it took a total 16 hours of work to decorate the majestic tree that stands in the lobby, not counting the time it took to create the structure of the tree. Made of galvanised steel, it took more than one month to create, after which the hotel's engineering team spent 11 hours setting up the structure in the hotel lobby, while the placement of the floral candy arrangements and giant lollipops took the pastry team and florists five hours.
Their arrangements, such as their "Winkle Stalk Loli-Poppin", a vibrant crimson and pink piece with shimmery stalks atop a lollipop cupcake; or their "Tutti Fruity Cage" made of candies in cactus flora inside a bird cage, are designed and hand crafted by well-known floral designer Brenda Lee Montiero of Fiore Dorato together with the pastry team at Shangri-La. Selling at a minimum donation of S$250 and S$50 respectively, proceeds go to the VIVA Foundation for Children with Cancer.
Another hotel playing up the fantasy element is the Orchard Hotel, with its Christmas glass house. Known for their extravagant houses, this year it has created a one-storey see-through glass Christmas House, complete with (fake) falling snow.
"We wanted a modern spin to the classic fairy tale house, which has always fascinated both young and old. Orchard Hotel's Christmas Glass House definitely draws people to it with its delicious aromas of Christmas treats while sporting a classy see-through facade with falling 'snow' all day long," said Raiz Mahmood, general manager of Orchard Hotel Singapore.
Inside, the glass house is filled with festive treats and goodies, like their Snowy Durian Alaskan with Burnt Italian Meringue, all created by the Orchard Hotel pastry team.
If glass houses aren't enough to get you into the Christmas spirit, how about one made of chocolate? Cafe Mocha of Marina Mandarin has taken decorating for the holidays to a whole new level by completely transforming into a chocolate house.
Marina Mandarin director of marketing communications Patricia Yong says: "It has been a tradition for Marina Mandarin Singapore to transform Cafe Mocha into a Santa House during Christmas and embracing different themes each year. Deviating from the gingerbread theme last year, the hotel has undertaken a bolder move this year by using real chocolate and candies to design the Santa House."
The house is coated with a protective layer which ensures the chocolate that covers it does not melt on unsuspecting patrons.
Inside, the Cafe has been converted into a cosy cottage, complete with a Christmas decorated table next to a fireplace (fake, naturally).
Of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without a gingerbread house...or village. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore has created a gingerbread mini-village, crafted by the hotel's pastry team, which took over two weeks to complete, with 68 handmade gingerbread houses.
"To bring the warmth, joy and splendour of this beautiful festive season to our guests at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, we have taken special efforts in handcrafting and customising our festive decorations," said Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Heritage.
Sitting on a snowy bed, the village resembles the wintry Swiss Alps, with the gingerbread houses that look like cosy cabins surrounded by snow, and gingerbread men and bears dotted around the display.
To complete the alpine feel, there is even a toy railway and train that passes through the village, and nutcrackers standing guard by the houses.
This article was first published on December 20, 2014. Get The Business Times for more stories.