ORLANDO – There are a lot of ways to conjure up the spirit of the holidays, and the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort has just about all of them.
There’s the tall nutcrackers in the lobby of the resort at 9939 Universal Boulevard in Orlando, the large Christmas tree nearby, and the gingerbread men that look awfully tempting to eat.
But what may really draw in the crowds, Amy Leniz admits, is the Holiday Chocolate Making Class with Chef David Ramirez which is going to be held on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
For $15, it’s an opportunity to join a creative holiday chocolate class – and then take home what you made, said Leniz, the resort’s director of catering and special events.
“It’s been a huge success,” she said.
A lot of that, she adds, owes to the popularity of the chef who has been featured on The Food Network and won numerous awards. Ramirez is the executive pastry chef for Rosen Shingle Creek, and prior to that, he worked at Loews Hotels Universal Orlando as executive pastry chef and Universal Studios as pastry chef running the production bakery that serviced more than 30 restaurant outlets.
Not a bad resume, Leniz said, for drawing in the crowds. And he was only too happy, she added, to be leading the resort’s guests on a special holiday class that focuses on a real treat: chocolate.
“It’s a holiday chocolate-making event, and it originally started out as a kid’s event,” she said. “But we got so many responses from adults that we changed it and it started to evolve to include adults as well.”
The holidays are big business this time of year, as the major theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld roll out holiday-themed special events.
The region’s resorts do this as well, and it extends well beyond simply putting up an immaculately-decorated Christmas tree in the lobby or out front.
Rosen Shingle Creek is now celebrating its Fourth Annual “Enchanted Evening” Holiday Showcase that celebrates Central Florida’s performing arts with special events.
“It’s a tradition,” Leniz said. “It started out very small, and it’s become a huge success, and it’s grown by leaps and bounds over the years.”
On Dec. 4, Rosen Shingle Creek had some holiday fun with a Sugar Plum Fairy Tea celebration, a meet and greet with the Sugar Plum Fairy from the production of “The Nutcracker,” with tea service and an appearance by the fairy in the lobby.
Valerine Pernice entertained the crowd on Thursday, playing the violin while leading a chorus of singers who performed Christmas carols.
“We need everybody’s help on this one,” Pernice told the audience, as she asked them to tap their feet when she gave the cue.
“What it comes down to,” Pernice said, “is instead of saying ‘click, click, click,’ we click our feet.”
As she started playing, she gave the crowd made up of folks of all ages the signal.
“Okay, everybody, click your feet, okay?” she said. “Louder! That will do. You get to sing, too.”
Leniz said Pernice has been a big hit with the resort’s audiences.
“She does strings, she does Christmas caroling, she is very talented,” Leniz said. “She found me. She called me out of the blue last year and said ‘This is what I want to do.’ ”
Pernice is not alone. Santa Claus will be making an appearance at the resort on Dec. 10, 16, and 17, from 6-7 p.m., and local schools and church choirs will be showcased there on Dec. 15.
Then on Dec. 16, “The Nutcracker” will be narrated and performed there by the Elizabeth Parsons School of Dance, Windermere Ballet and Community Dance Theatre at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby by the fireplace.
“Every Friday and Saturday night we have live entertainment in the lobby,” she said, adding that tomorrow night, the Sanford Pops would be performing
“We have school choirs and church choirs that perform in the lobby, too,” Leniz added. “We’ve got everything here.”
Best of all, she added, these activities are not limited to the resort’s hotel guests.
“We open it up to the general public,” she said. “We wanted to do something nice for the community.”
But if people want to book a weekend getaway at Rosen Shingle Creek, she added, the resort is offering some special package deals this month.
“We try to make it attractive for them to stay for the weekend,” she said. “That’s been happening a lot, and people are making a weekend of it. You can get a discounted room rate online. They start at $99, but today we have a special going on for $59.99 on certain days.”
The holiday activities continue now through Saturday, Dec. 17.
“It ends on December 17 in the lobby,” she said. “We do a finale. Usually what happens is the dance troops will do an extra number that they don’t usually do. Then on New Year’s Eve, we’re offering a discounted room rate, and we broadcast the ball dropping from Time Square, and we have champagne.”
To learn more, call Leniz at 407-996-9939 or email her at email@example.com or log on to Rosen Shingle Creek.
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