Hol­i­days at the Ar­ling­ton

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Front Page - By Don Thoma­son, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

The up­com­ing hol­i­day sea­son is “a very big deal” for the Ar­ling­ton Re­sort Ho­tel & Spa, be­gin­ning with Thanks­giv­ing and con­tin­u­ing through New Year's Eve.

The up­com­ing hol­i­day sea­son is “a very big deal” for the Ar­ling­ton Re­sort Ho­tel & Spa, be­gin­ning with Thanks­giv­ing and con­tin­u­ing through New Year's Eve, says Gaye Hardin, ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to the gen­eral man­ager.

“It is some­thing that is steeped in tra­di­tion at the ho­tel. As long as I've been here, we've had a lot of hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on,” she said.

Hardin said many of the ho­tel's guests dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son are peo­ple who re­turn year after year for one or all of the events.

Scott Fran­cis, Food and Bev­er­age di­rec­tor, said the Thanks­giv­ing Day events ri­val Easter for the num­ber of peo­ple at­tend­ing.

Fran­cis said that at most places he's worked Mother's Day is still the largest “din­ing out” day of the year, with Easter be­ing No. 2 and Thanks­giv­ing usu­ally a dis­tant third, “but here at the Ar­ling­ton, Thanks­giv­ing holds its own. We take reser­va­tions for 600 to 650 so if we have 550 to 600, then that is usu­ally where we're at for Thanks­giv­ing,” he said.

The Thanks­giv­ing Day feast will be an hour longer this year, Fran­cis said, run­ning from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and in­stead of a full buf­fet for the evening meal, a tra­di­tional plated Thanks­giv­ing meal with turkey, dress­ing, stuff­ing, cran­ber­ries, and sweet pota­toes will be served.

“Usu­ally guests stay­ing in the ho­tel will eat the evening meal, and the com­mu­nity will come in for the noon meal,” Fran­cis said.

Reser­va­tions for the Thanks­giv­ing Day meal are not

re­quired, but Fran­cis said they “are ex­tremely rec­om­mended.”

“We tell peo­ple that they can come in and if there is a ta­ble open, we'll be glad to seat them, but I can't guar­an­tee an open­ing,” he said.

Another Thanks­giv­ing week­end tra­di­tion at the Ar­ling­ton is a din­ner theater in the Crys­tal Ball­room, and keep­ing with the hol­i­day theme, the pre­sen­ta­tion will be the Nun­sense Christ­mas Mu­si­cal “Nun­sense,” per­formed by the Com­mu­nity Theater of Lit­tle Rock, Hardin said.

“This is a tick­eted event, and reser­va­tions are re­quired,” she said, not­ing that the meal will con­sist of a salad, en­tree and dessert.

With Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas less than a month apart, the ho­tel staff will be­gin some of its Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions prior to Thanks­giv­ing, in­clud­ing the popular ginger­bread house that is pre­sented in the ho­tel's main lobby each year.

“The down­town light­ing cer­e­mony will take place just be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, so we start dec­o­rat­ing out­doors and the culi­nary team should have the ginger­bread house com­pleted be­fore then,” Hardin said.

“We'll prob­a­bly start work on it the sec­ond full week of Novem­ber, and it takes about two weeks to do the house, so you'll start to see Christ­mas tak­ing shape in the Ar­ling­ton around mid-Novem­ber,” Fran­cis said.

“The goal is to have the ginger­bread house done and com­plete for the Thanks­giv­ing brunch, and the Christ­mas tree will be up by then, too,” he said.

Fran­cis said the ho­tel chefs bake about 40 ho­tel-size sheet pans of ginger­bread, which takes about a week and a half, and it is then cut to var­i­ous sizes and placed on the frame of the house. Then the ho­tel's ad­min­is­tra­tive staff and em­ploy­ees be­gin dec­o­rat­ing the cake and putting the candy pieces on the house. He said ev­ery­thing on the house is edi­ble, but it is built for dec­o­ra­tion, not for taste.

Fran­cis said a fork­lift is used to move the house, which mea­sures about 5 feet by 5 feet by 6 feet high, into po­si­tion in the lobby where it is then as­sem­bled.

“The guests can watch it be­ing built. There's no hid­den tricks to it,” he said, but would not di­vulge the num­ber of candy pieces placed on the house.

“I was sur­prised last year when the win­ner came within five pieces of guess­ing the ex­act num­ber of to­tal pieces of candy. I was the only one who knew the ex­act amount, but we're talk­ing thou­sands of pieces of candy,” Fran­cis said.

Hardin said many of the ho­tel's guests at Christ­mas are in Hot Springs to visit fam­ily, and many will bring their fam­ily to the ho­tel to see the dec­o­ra­tions or take ad­van­tage of the Christ­mas Day feast from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hardin, who has been at the ho­tel for 30 years, said the hol­i­day sea­son cul­mi­nates with the New Year's Eve fes­tiv­i­ties, which be­gin with a cel­e­bra­tion buf­fet from 5:30-9:30 p.m., or guests can take part in the Gala Din­ner Dance in the Crys­tal Ball­room from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with big-band mu­sic pro­vided by the Star­dust Big Band. A New Year's Eve Fes­ti­val Party will also be held in the Con­fer­ence Cen­ter from 8:30 p.m. un­til 1 a.m. with White Choco­late pro­vid­ing the mu­sic.

“I think this year is es­pe­cially ex­cit­ing be­cause it is the 90th an­niver­sary of the ho­tel fol­low­ing the 1923 fire. The grand open­ing was a New Years Eve dance that year,” Hardin said.

The Ar­lin­gotn Re­sort Ho­tel & Spa holds nu­mer­ous hol­i­day events in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a ginger­bread house and a New Year's party.

The Ar­lin­gotn Re­sort Ho­tel & Spa's Scott Fran­cis, left, and Gaye Hardin work tire­lessly to or­ga­nize the many events held at the ho­tel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.