Hotel Colorado has quite the suite tooth | AspenTimes.com

Hotel Colorado has quite the suite tooth

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Kelley Cox Post IndependentCathy Jackson, the pastry chef at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, built a giant gingerbread house.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – “Can you smell it?” Cathy Jackson asked.

Approaching the Devereux Wing, on the east end of the Hotel Colorado, comes a waft of holiday cheer across the nose.

“Everybody loves the smell of it down here,” Jackson said. “You can really smell it.”

At the end of the hall a life-sized gingerbread house – complete with royal icing between the gingerbread bricks – emits its fragrant aroma strong enough to catch the attentions of Hansel and Gretel.

However, this is no fable. And Jackson is no witch, such as the old tale goes.

Jackson, the pastry chef for the Glenwood Springs hotel, was given the task of creating the nearly 8-foot-tall gingerbread structure as part of the hotel’s annual holiday display – a task that took nearly three weeks for Jackson to complete.

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“I was doing my other stuff, but at the same time I would make a bunch of these bricks,” she said. “Then I’d do a bit more the next day.”

Jackson baked so much gingerbread she lost track of how many ingredients it took to complete the project. And while she had help from the hotel’s creative department in finishing the final details of the house this past week, she did all the baking herself.

Hotel Colorado General Manager John Burns said that Jackson makes all the hotel’s pastries, and it was quite a sight to see her making all the gingerbread bricks individually.

“She had gingerbread bricks stacked everywhere,” Burns said.

And while it’s obvious that she knows how to build a gingerbread house, she said that this house was actually her first attempt.

“I’ve never made a gingerbread house before,” she admitted. “To be honest with you, when we discussed that we were going to do a gingerbread house, I had no idea it was going to be this big.”

Jackson said that when she saw the wooden frame that she had to build around, she said, “They want me to cover that in gingerbread?”

But she stepped up to the challenge, and the house turned out magnificently.

“That’s a real gingerbread house down there,” a lady mentioned to Jackson in passing. “I thought, oh isn’t that cute, it’s a little fake building. And then we walked up to it and said, ‘oh my gosh.'”

“We’ve already had someone try to eat a piece of it,” Jackson replied.

The gingerbread house is the main attraction in the Devereux Hall in the hotel, where around 20 other gingerbread houses are on display as part of a gingerbread house contest. Burns said that the idea for the huge gingerbread house sparked the idea for the contest, which was kind of a last-minute idea.

“We actually didn’t start until October,” he said. “We were just sitting around, thinking of what can we do here in the Devereux Wing that would be kind of different.”

Submissions include public entries, and several from local Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops, Burns said. Winners will be announced Friday night at the Hotel’s Annual Holiday Lighting Celebration, which starts at 6 p.m.

He was surprised with all the interest in the contest, considering the short amount of time the hotel had to get the word out.

“It was quite an amazing response with only a month of notice,” he said.

Winners will receive cash prizes, with the grand-prize winner also receiving either an afternoon tea party, or ice cream social with up to six friends.

It’s an event that Burns expects an increased interest in next year. But Jackson has already set the bar fairly high with her first gingerbread house. She’ll have to come up with something even more spectacular next year.

“Next year, we’ll put on an addition,” Burns said.

And maybe a hot-chocolate swimming pool.

jgardner@postindependent.com