LAKSHMI KOTHANETH –
It’s festive season throughout the world ushering in the New Year. But just before that is Christmas. The winter season is also the peak tourism season in Oman. Making visitors feel at home, the hotels in town have brought in the flavours of the season in their own way: Christmas trees, flowers, colours of red, green and gold dominate the ambience in most of the lobbies around the Sultanate.
At Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel — making a distinct vibe are the ginger bread decorations. Considered one of the holiday’s tradition, the preparation has begun even early week of December.
Making the rounds at the hotel, Christmas music pervades the air and the lights emphasized the season’s vibe. They were just right for everyone especially those who waited for a turn to have their picture taken in front of the hotel’s tall Christmas tree.
From across the tree is the gingerbread display.
This year, it is a replica of Al Bustan Palace Hotel itself. The Gingerbread Palace is made of 300 kg of mixture gingerbread dough, 100kg of honey, 100 kg of brown sugar, 40 kg of icing and some spices.
According to the management of Al Bustan, it took the team a whole week to complete the construction.
Amidst all the excitement were three visitors who were all excited with the gingerbread display. What’s more? They had a story to share originating from a Hungarian tradition– that of ginger cookies.
“We normally make ginger cookies but sometimes we prepare ginger bread. The shapes vary. Sometimes it is a horse and the horse rider, shooting star, Christmas tree, Santa Claus with white sugar decoration on it. When we make the ginger bread horse and the horse rider it can be sort of a gift to the special person in your life. The rider of the horse is coming – a hero from the classics,” explained Esther who arrived in Muscat via a cruise ship.
Gingerbread houses, from their tradition, also comes with a surprise — it comes with a mirror!
Andrash from Budapest shared, “The real experts make the fascinating ones with mirror on them. I have never been so advanced with gingerbread. You have to be really good to make a heart shaped ginger bread with a little mirror in the middle.”
Their companion, Anna, steps in and also shared, “I remember him getting one! From a close family friend.”
Andrash remembered and recollected a unique one he received one Christmas, “It was very interesting because on one side, it had the crescent shaped moon, then the Om and other religious symbols. All religions were put into this piece of ginger bread. Truly unique and universal!”
The trio has been travelling through the cruise ship that will take them to Khasab in Musandam and then they will fly back to Europe.
The trioadmitted that they’ve had created a special memory in Oman and that for them Christmas in Oman is something they will always look back to.
Gingerbread houses are a deep – rooted part of the holiday tradition. For many families, the tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses is an annual holiday event, which started in Germany in the early 1800s.
Gingerbread is also a star attraction at Shangri La Barr al Jizza Resort in addition to its Christmas tree.
Al Falaj Hotel opted to play with fabric for their Christmas tree while Millennium Resort in Musannah went for a Christmas tree with an environmental message.
Starting December 18, 2016, Millennium has been displaying a number of festive decorations including environmentally-friendly Christmas trees made from 5,000 water bottles. They also have environmental-friendly ornaments and lighting in their main lobby, ballroom and all dining establishments. A special 50-minute-long Christmas Tree Lighting event was held on December 18 which featured performance from the resort’s resident choir.
Holiday cheers to fond memories that will be made this season!