“ARIA’s Front Desk rings, are you listening; In the casino, snow is glistening; A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight; As we debut our version of a Winter Wonderland.”
ARIA is lighting up the holiday season with its “Winter Wonderland” lobby display. Created by the ARIA Pastry team and on display through Tuesday, Jan. 5, this year’s centerpiece is a custom-designed Sugar Palace, made out of edible ingredients and stands 15-feet high. Led by Executive Pastry Chef Mathieu Lavallee, the skilled team spent more than four weeks crafting the Sugar Palace, showcasing seven types of sugar work techniques in the pressed sugar bricks, snowflakes coated in crystal sugar, blown-sugar swans and blown and pulled flowers, among other sweet pieces.
“We wanted to bring our candy house back this year, but with an exciting new twist so we created a winter wonderland palace entirely out of sugar,” said ARIA Executive Pastry Chef Mathieu Lavallee. “Designing the Sugar Palace was a fun and unique challenge as we utilized several sugar work techniques and it took weeks of dedication and hard work by our wonderful ARIA pastry team to bring it to life.”
The holiday creation required close to 4,000 pounds of sugar which created 1,000 pressed sugar bricks, 500 sugar tiles made of cooked sugar and the Sugar Palace’s beautiful front window, which weighs in at one ton. Additionally, 400 pounds of white royal icing was used to build the structure. Door decorations made from fondant, glistening white meringue drops on the roofline and sugar vines and icicles are a few of the other stunning hand-sculpted items found on the Sugar Palace.
The Sugar Palace is set in a sparkling white and silver winter wonderland, designed and created by the MGM Resorts Event Production team in collaboration with the ARIA Horticulture and Facilities teams. Hand-carved oversized ornaments, including carousel horses, ballerinas, pirate ships, snowflakes, swans and trains, hang from the ceiling. The handmade Palace is surrounded by a glittering winter forest of stacked custom-designed trees, white manzanita trees detailed with white twinkle lights and shimmering angel hair and a 17-foot holiday tree decorated with 500 crystals.
The Winter Wonderland not only creates an idyllic setting for a holiday-themed photo, but also features delicious holiday gift ideas made by the ARIA Patisserie team, including chocolate coffee cups, candied oranges dipped in chocolate, white chocolate & peppermint popcorn, sugar cookies and milk chocolate cranberries, among many other treats. The Winter Wonderland retail area will be open Monday to Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. (open through Tuesday, Jan. 5). Additionally, a physically distanced seating area in the Sugar Palace’s backyard provides guests a respite to enjoy their sweet treats with a warm holiday beverage – or cocktail for those 21 and over!
“Winter Wonderland” By The Numbers
5: ARIA Pastry Chef team members created the Sugar Palace
7: Sugar techniques used – pulled, blown, poured, pressed, sprayed, dipped and piped
1,000: Sugar bricks created from more than 700 pounds of sugar
500: Sugar tiles created from more than 1,000 pounds of cooked sugar
400: Pounds of royal icing used to construct the Sugar Palace
One Ton: Weight of the Sugar Palace’s front window (2,000 pounds)
76: Average pounds of sugar one person consumes in a year
47: MRE team members involved in the display’s assembly
500: Crystals used on the Winter Wonderland forest
7: Types of ornaments hand-carved for the display – carousel horses, ballerinas, pirate ships, musical horns, trains, snowflakes and swans
20: Pounds of glitter
10: Gallons of white paint