The Loveliest Gingerbread Village Open To Visitors

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PHOTO BY JOHN HILLSMAN / FOR THE OBSERVER

 CONTRIBUTED BY
KATY  DOSS / HERE MOLLY GIRL

One of the area’s favorite holiday traditions is back for 2021 and opened this weekend.

 The Hotel at Auburn University’s Auburn Gingerbread Village opened to the public on Dec. 5 following the Auburn Christmas parade. The display will run through New Year’s Day. During the unveiling, guests enjoyed complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, as well as a performance by the Auburn UMC handbell choir. 

 The Hotel’s 12-building Gingerbread Village showcases an array of recognizable buildings from around Auburn and Opelika. Hotel team members — including chefs, pastry chefs and the culinary team, to housekeeping, front desk and executive members — have contributed to the Gingerbread Village to spread Christmas cheer to all this holiday season. 

 “The annual Gingerbread Village really is impressive, and we’re honored to welcome guests to our Hotel to enjoy it,” said Hans van der Reijden, hotel managing director. “Our team members have created one of the most extraordinary holiday ‘must-sees’ in the Southeast, and I couldn’t be prouder. I’d like to personally invite everyone in our community to experience the Gingerbread Village this year.” 

The Gingerbread Village is the annual kick-off to the holiday season, featuring prominent Auburn University buildings crafted out of gingerbread, candy and icing. The Village, named one of the Top 20 events in the Southeast for December, is a crowd favorite, delighting more than 2,000 guests annually. Crowds gather around the village to take in its sights, hunt for hidden figures (including favorite characters from Star Wars and Disney movies) and enjoy Christmas carols with friends and family.

Adam Keeshan, managing partner of food and beverage, is responsible for the creation of the streetscapes, which change each year as the setup is slightly altered to offer a new, fresh take on the existing buildings. Pastry Chef Dallas Kee ensures all the gingerbread is affixed to the superstructures that are created by Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction Professor Paul Holley. Team members work together in the Hotel’s “Santa’s Workshop,” and the finished product culminates in a “best in show” building contest — judged by Auburn Downtown Merchants’ Association celebrity guests — between Hotel teams, for a year of bragging rights.

The Hotel’s chosen nonprofit, Storybook Farm, is represented in gingerbread, and for the first time ever, the building will have a QR code for anyone who would like to donate to the charity.

ABOUT THE HOTEL AT AUBURN UNIVERSITY AND DIXON CONFERENCE CENTER

The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, located just a short walk from downtown Auburn and Auburn University, is a AAA four-diamond facility boasting 236 guestrooms and suites, as well as 27,000 square feet of newly renovated meeting and event space. Additionally, the Hotel is located adjacent to the new South College parking deck. The Hotel was one of 29 hotels globally to be ShareCare Verified property, ensuring the highest safety practices.

The Hotel at Auburn University is managed by Ithaka Hospitality Partners, a hospitality management company focused on all aspects of hotel, resort, restaurant and food hall management as well as special event and catering management. Ithaka consults with owners and developers to deliver strategic and tactical methods to achieve overall profitability, guest satisfaction and employee engagement. Additionally, Ithaka is proud to partner with the Hospitality Management Program at Auburn University to assist in educating the next generation of leaders in our industry. For additional information, visit www.ithakahp.com

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