Stein Eriksen Lodge Takes Their Gingerbread (and Their Guests) Seriously

My friend Stella, age two and a half, was a little intimidated. She came to Stein Eriksen Lodge for a gingerbread  adventure.  To tell you the truth, I was there for the exact same reason.  I met her and her Nana in the lobby to check out the huge Whoville gingerbread creation and to participate in the gingerbread house making class to bring one home to my family.

When we walked in the room, we noticed lots of kids, moms and aunties all eager to play with the cake, candies and icing.  In front of each chair were gingerbread walls and a roof as well as bags of candy for decoration.    Stella sat down in her chair and Executive Chef Zane Holmquist greeted her with a big smile and asked her how old she was. She looked up at the chef in the Santa hat, and around the room at the pastry chefs and the other kids and suddenly was unsure of herself.  She was not even three years old so when all this attention was focused on her,  her lips started to quiver like she was just on the cusp of starting to cry.

Chef knew just what to do. He gently sat down next to her and started to work on the base of her gingerbread house.  He asked her to put her finger on top of the wall to hold it while he set another in place. She did comply but with a little apprehension.  Once the walls were up and roof on, he did something I found very interesting.  He let her lead.  He simply asked her to point to where she wanted him to place the candy to decorate her house.  She didn’t have to talk: it wasn’t a complex transaction. She just needed to point.


And point she did. When she pointed to the side of the house, he placed a candy in that exact spot and she was hooked!  This lasted until the house had a candy corn hedge against the frame, snowmen candies adorning the house and ribbon candy shingles on the roof. He didn’t miss a beat when she wanted him to double stack candy on candy.  The head chef from this Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel sat with this tiny girl and helped her build the house just the way she wanted to.


When they were done, and he went on to help the next child, she was beaming.  She talked a mile a minute to everyone and literally danced around the room.  When she got home, she talked non-stop about her gingerbread adventure as she proudly showed off her creation.

It took Chef Zane and a team of a dozen pastry chefs three months to build the Whoville gingerbread house which decorates the lobby of the Stein Eriksen Lodge.  It is complete with the Grinch’s mountain hideaway (the Grinch with his little dog looking on) and dozens of marzipan Whoville figures surrounding Christmas tree in the center of their town. It only took him a half an hour to win over a little girl who will now be a lifelong gingerbread house fan.


I wish I had thought to ask him of which accomplishment he is the most proud.

My gingerbread creation

The Santa Stalker

For weeks, Little Guy, age 3, has been greeting us each morning with a query: “Is it Christmas?” then bursting into a medley of seasonally appropriate tunes. Which is adorable, and also hilarious. He hasn’t quite grasped the concept that we don’t celebrate the holiday, per se. Chinese food? A movie? Skiing and gathering with friends? Sure. But we’re Jewish, so Santa’s not coming down our (admittedly too-narrow) chimney.

Still, Little Guy’s been persistent in his desire to meet the Bearded Wonder. So, imagine his delight when he learned that Santa himself would make an appearance at Deer Valley Resort on the 24th. We planned the entire ski day around the intel that St. Nick would turn up at Snow Park Lodge about 1:30. And, yes, that was my crabby voice you heard resonating across the dining room at Snow Park restaurant at 1:00, after Little Guy acted the part of petulant, exhausted three-year-old and kicked a friendly member of the Deer Valley marketing department. Sigh. 

And those were his shrieks you heard ringing through the plaza after we traded his skis for a claim tag at ski check. Still, we hung around, hoping to boost his spirits with a Santa sighting. Better yet: we ran into friends (the aforementioned Lisa and Dave; other pals in from Palm Beach, etc) and chatted for a bit before Ski Dad determined we’d missed our moment and headed for the parking lot. 

Suddenly, Big Guy shouted: “Look! Santa’s on Success” and I speed dialed Ski Dad to return with his camera. Big Guy accepted Santa’s handshake (and a candy cane) with a grin. Little Guy did as Little Guy does and played shy.

Santa, for his part, lived up to the hype. I’m telling you: the man knows things. For as we lined up for a photo op, Santa offered a robust “Shabbat Shalom!” After all, this year the 24th fell on a Friday.