While the tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center typically gets top billing when it comes to conspicuous displays of holiday cheer, the lobby at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, North Carolina has something else entirely: a 1500-pound, 140 square-foot gingerbread house, complete with flickering lights (and real moss!). Baked in-house by executive chef Jon Farace and the staff at the BLT Steak restaurant, the 100% organic display hopes to bring some warmth and attention to this LEED-certified luxury hotel—the first of the Ritz-Carlton brand.
As parents check-in, little ones can write letters to Santa (pre-addressed by the service-minded hotel) and sip Jacques Torres hot chocolate with all of the fixings at the front desk. Later, guests listen to live jazz in the fire-lit lobby-lounge and gawk at visiting NBA players or local celebrities who might be ordering artisanal drinks made with herbs and honey from the green roof.
The hotel also brings a bit of the season to its 13,000-foot spa, where they're offering a 75-minute hot stone massage with your choice of peppermint, frankincense, or cinnamon-clove oils ($175).
Once the holidays are over, celebrate a job well-done at the hotel's 15th-floor Urban Sip wine bar, which soft-opens on December 29th. Featuring a by-the-glass menu of 90 wines (starting at $9) and 35 whiskey and scotch offerings, the bar has put together 10 different tasting flights for oenophiles and beginner-tasters alike with easy-to-pair local charcuterie and 21 cheeses (including North Carolina varieties).
Talk about Christmas your spirits.
Charlotte Savino is Travel + Leisure's Listings Editor.