Gingerbread hotel takes the cake, and $200 cash prize
Contest inspired by five-star Phoenix resort
The eight gingerbread houses on display at the Best Western Plus Midway Hotel and Suites on Moorland Road each had their impressive elements, but it was a candy-and-cookie replica of the hotel that took the top prize in the employee contest.
Scot Muehlmeier, general manager, came up with the gingerbread house building contest after seeing a similar display of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired gingerbread houses at a five-star resort in Phoenix.
"I wanted to make things fun around here for the holiday season, and after seeing that display in Phoenix, I knew this was the perfect idea," he said.
Muehlmeier passed out contest invitations to the hotel employees in November, with all participants receiving $20 just for entering the contest.
Employees had until Dec. 10 to create a gingerbread house of any size and decor, then they were put on display so guests could vote on their favorite.
The grand prize was $200, the second-place prize was $150 and the third-place prize $100.
Eight houses were entered, with some employees building their houses alone and some teaming up with other employees for a shot at the grand prize.
The houses, decorated with frosting, gumdrops, pretzels and candy canes, were on display through Dec. 21.
Muehlmeier said he was surprised at how quickly the participating employees signed up for the contest.
"The turnout was better than I expected," he said. "Some of the participants aren't even bakers."
Beth Marx, an employee at the hotel, teamed up with a colleague to create a small village display, with a gingerbread house decorated with M&M candies and peppermints surrounded by smaller gingerbread buildings and a candy cane Christmas tree.
"My display took four hours, and I spent $60 total on the ingredients," Marx said. "I told all of my family to come and vote."
Marx won the $100 third-place prize.
"This $100 will cover some of the money I spent on the house, and I still come out ahead," she said.
Taking care with details
First place went to Alicia Orwal, a server at the hotel, who received 58 of the 108 total votes.
Orwal built a gingerbread replica of the Brookfield hotel, complete with a parking lot and peppermint pillars.
Orwal was not available for comment before press deadline, but other employees said she was thorough in her creation.
"She was measuring the building and took count of all of the windows," Marx said of Orwal's efforts.
"I would have given her a floor map of everything had I known," Muehlmeier said.
Marx said this year's contest was fun, but she's already preparing to take the first prize spot next year.
"Now that I've done it and seen how others do it, I can better prepare for next year," she said.
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