Memphis doesn't see much snow, and its December temperatures tend to be brisk rather than chilly. But step inside the historic Peabody Hotel - also known as "The South's Grand Hotel" - and you're instantly transported to a holiday wonderland filled with the sights, smells and sounds of the season
At the Peabody Memphis, putting up a tree just doesn't fly. This is the hotel with resident ducks, which parade in and out of the lobby bar twice a day with much fanfare and photography. So basic decorations simply won't do.
The two-story lobby of the Peabody Hotel is bedecked for Christmas, with a 30-foot tree and lighted garlands — Photo courtesy of The Peabody Hotel Memphis
The work on creating a magical Christmas experience begins in September, when Chef Konrad Spitzbart and his elves in the hotel's pastry shop begin work on a sweet project - a massive gingerbread village display.
This year's theme may be the most fun yet. Spitzbart and his team have created a giant Whoville, putting their creative touch on all things Dr. Seuss and replicating "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
It required 400 hours of work and countless hundreds of pounds of sugar, flour, frosting and decorations to complete the display, which is almost too tempting not to touch.
Chef Konrad Spitzbart puts finishing touches on the Grinch — Photo courtesy of The Peabody Hotel Memphis
At one end of the lobby area, a 30-foot tree is the backdrop for many a family photo. The rails of the mezzanine above are festooned with lighted garland swags, and a piano merrily plays holiday music.
The festive atmosphere is a fabulous setting for a romantic drink, especially after 5:30 p.m., when the crowd gathers to watch the famous duck march itself off. The lobby bar then becomes a nice escape from the world.
Throughout the holiday season, the hotel hosts themed events, including a Nutcracker Tea, complete with dancers from the Memphis Ballet, and other special dinners. Christmas morning brunch is a glorious affair - with omelette and Belgian waffle stations, arrays of fruits and hand-carved meats, salads and pastas.
The most memorable station, however, is the over-the-top dessert bar, with stacks of brownies and cookies, jars full of candies and many more sweets. Reservations are absolutely necessary for this holiday treat, which takes place throughout the mezzanine level of the hotel.
Closing out the holidays, the Peabody hosts a massive New Year's Eve party, with most of the hotel's event space dedicated to the bash. Tickets start at $45, and room packages are also available. The event usually sells out.