The New Spin on our Holiday Gingerbread Tradition

You can apply any number of adjectives to French Lick Springs Hotel. Beautiful. Historic. Mysterious. Distinct.

Now we can add a new one: Delicious.

One of our favorite holiday traditions here at the resort has a new twist this year, as in place of the enormous gingerbread house displayed in the upper level of the Event Center — in the past it’s been one of the biggest gingerbread houses in the entire Midwest — we’re rolling out a gingerbread hotel.

Our hotel.

The resort’s pastry team has been working at a feverish pace the last few days to apply to bring a gingerbread replica of French Lick Springs Hotel to life. The creation will be displayed in the Event Center starting this weekend and running throughout the resort’s entire 50 Days of Lights, which run from November 16 to January 6.

The gingerbread hotel is still crafted the same way as the gingerbread houses from prior years, as everything you’ll see on the exterior is edible — from the real gingerbread made from scratch in the bakery, to the sugary stained-glass windows and snowflakes and other adornments that make it sparkle.
The cardboard shell of the hotel, complete with cutouts of the
gingerbread hotel's 264 windows. 

Dalyn Roney is our pastry chef and the mastermind behind the annual gingerbread project, and after last year’s grand Tudor-style gingerbread house (“my favorite house ever,” by her assessment) she wondered how can we possibly top this? Plus, with the resort continually breaking business records this year, the bakery staff has been kept busier tending to guest needs. And the gingerbread house is their “side” project anyway, if you can consider something that’s taken 500-600 combined work hours a side project.

So all that prompted the push to create something new.

It’s still a feat of architecture and craftsmanship that started with translating Google Earth satellite imaging of the hotel into a 5-foot-long scale model. This is just the main front section of the hotel, as it appeared from about 1898 to 1905 before various other wings of the hotel were built on.

You’ll notice the tri-colored windows with the stained-glass effect (clear windows would just be kinda boring, after all), and the gingerbread is dark brown just as a reminder to guests who pass by that it’s a real gingerbread house – sometimes it blends into the landscape since that area of the Event Center is bustling with Christmas decorations.

The gingerbread process takes shape, from the chunks of pre-baked dough, to baking and shaping the sections of the hotel, to adding the colored sugar for the windows. 

But that distinct French Lick Springs Hotel look is still unmistakable, complete with the middle terrace and the octagonal shaped rooms that protrude from both ends of the hotel.

It’s still been hours upon hours of work, but it’s all what makes the end product so satisfyingly thrilling.

“It’s been a challenge all around, but that’s why I love it here. That’s why I’m here,” Dalyn says.

“We wanted to give people something that I’m sure they’ve never seen before. And still fill it with lights and fill it with magic, and there are going to be so be so many other things going on this season with the new light show and other things. I hope everyone will keep finding something new to enjoy.”

Candy holly and snowflakes are yet to be added among the scores of decorations (all edible) that go on the gingerbread hotel.