Gingerbread house wows hotel guests

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guests at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Suffolk have been greeted by quite a treat this week.

Visitors entering the lobby are immediately greeted by the strong smell of gingerbread, icing and all sorts of sweets, but cannot see past the large Christmas tree until they get further into the lobby.

It is there guests realize where the smell is coming from — a gigantic gingerbread house, almost completely handmade by hotel employees.

Maricris Farrington, a bartender at the hotel, conceived the idea and did the majority of the work — about 12 hours a day for a week.

“It was fun,” said Farrington, who has worked at the hotel since it opened. “It was a lot of baking, because I did small cookies.”

Farrington estimates she baked approximately 400 gingerbread cookies, “not counting mistakes.” Round cookies became the shingles of the roof, and squares and rectangles were cut from other cookies to become the bricks on the walls. Farrington also used square cutouts for the bricks on the walkway, and even crafted a gingerbread reindeer to stand by the side of the house.

“This is Ms. Perfectionist herself,” said Gena Albright, Farrington’s boss.

Farrington bought plywood to form the base and frame of the house. The rest of the house is made of edible materials — besides the glue in the icing.

“There’s a little bit of everything in there,” Farrington said.

The house only required three bags of gumdrops and other sweets for decoration, Farrington said. The house, which ended at about four feet by two and a half feet, got bigger and bigger as she got more and more ideas, Farrington said.

“It can never be done,” Farrington said.

Brian Williams, the hotel’s general manager, said the gingerbread house has attracted the cameras of dozens of guests.

“It’s been in a lot of pictures,” Williams said. “It’s been pretty popular. We’ve had to put signs up that say, ‘Do not eat.’”

Some of the guests even got involved with the construction of the house, giving Farrington pointers on how to construct the frame, Williams said.

The staff already is thinking of ideas for next year’s house, Williams said.