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St. Regis Monarch Beach Gingerbread House Academy

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Visiting Santa at the St Regis Monarch Beach

Last year I saw a friend of mine post pictures of this amazing gingerbread house made by her daughter. I was very impressed and asked her how the 4 year old was able to create such a beautiful house. The St. Regis Monarch Beach had helped. Confused I asked her to elaborate. Every year since her daughter was born, her family made it out to the St. Regis to build gingerbread houses. What a fantastic experience I thought, so I booked our seats for The St. Regis Gingerbread House Academy.

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Be sure to book early, seats sell out the closer you get to Christmas. The cost is $70 per house, maximum of 4 people per house which can be a bit pricey but well worth it. You get a foot tall house, made by the chefs at the St. Regis, with all the frosting and candy imaginable. To top it off, after the event, you can also have a special one on one with Santa.

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As you enter the hotel, in the lobby you see a sand sculptured Santa. It’s rather amazing how lifelike Santa is sitting in his chair with a Christmas tree behind him and elf to his side.

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As we walk down a corridor of mirrors to our ballroom, we see the most beautiful holiday decorations. The friendly St. Regis staff checks us in and right at 10, the doors opened with the aroma of gingerbread seeped out. We were taken to our table and along the way, I saw dozens of houses with overflowing bowls of candies. I had forgotten to bring my children’s aprons but for a fee of $10, I was able to purchase one with the St. Regis logo.

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While my children began to frost the house, I walked around the hall and grabbed a mimosa. That’s one of the perks of the academy; champagne, mimosa’s, decadent hot chocolate as well as coffee and teas. My children were on cloud nine, with every gum drop put on the house, one had to be put in their mouths. Even with all the amazing candies in front of us, many patrons brought some of their favorites from home, so if you want your house to have a fudge roof, you can bring your own fudge! Depending on your child, their age and attention span, you can stay the whole 2 hours or just a few minutes. We saw families trickling as late at 11.

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After an hour and half, my children were done so we had our house boxed up and decided to explore the beautiful hotel before Santa’s arrival. The hotel has an exquisite terrace with ocean views overlooking the garden. I recommend reserving a spot for lunch so that you can fully enjoy the view and experience. After a quick bite we headed back to the ballroom and were greeted by non-other than Santa.

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Santa was sitting in a chair much like the one in the sand sculpture and speaking to a group of children. Once the children left, it was our turn. We spent a good 10-15 minutes with Santa. He asked about their holiday wish, told jokes and even staged some cute pictures. He was calm, patient and sweet. The children weren’t rushed and had such a great time with him. Due to the limited number of people at the event, I felt that you could truly have a wonderful one-on-one experience with Santa. The St. Regis Gingerbread House Academy was so much more than just making a house. It was a fantastic experience with memories that will last a lifetime and a part of our annual holiday tradition.

The St. Regis Monarch Beach Gingerbread House Academy December 7 – 22, 2013 Saturday Sessions at 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm; Sundays at 10am to 12pm. Reservations required. call (800) 722-1543.

I’m an OC mom of two and photographer. I love living in Southern California and want to expose my children to all that it offers. I love taking my kids on adventures and capturing their every moment so much so that my kids find it odd if I don’t take their pictures. You can see my work on facebook.com/photosbynaz.
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