More unique and elaborate holiday displays and decorations are popping up in South Florida hotels, and in some cases, the festive offerings are helping to support worthy causes.
This year's new holiday feature at the Westin Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is a pop-up lobby sweetshop, which opened this month to offer guests seasonal-themed treats baked in-house.
From noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, holiday travelers can satisfy their sweet cravings with delicacies such as gingerbread cookies, peppermint chip biscotti, sea salt caramel cupcakes and assorted fudge and cake pops. Prices range from $2 to $12 per packaged item.
The sweetshop is the brainchild of executive pastry chef Sireena Edwards, who grew up baking with her grandmother during the holiday season and today still prepares cookie boxes for family back in Pennsylvania.
"I wanted it to be a unique holiday experience for our guests," Edwards said. "It's going really well and we're getting a lot of buzz around the hotel about it. People think it's a neat idea."
In its first week, the shop rang up more than $800 in sales. Proceeds from the cookie sales will benefit 4KIDS of South Florida, which finds permanent homes for children in crisis.
"Giving back to the community is essential during the holiday season," a Westin hotel spokesperson said of the 4KIDS partnership.
Pastry teams at the Westin and sister property Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel also created "Santa's Candy Workshop," holiday displays made of gingerbread and other edible ingredients that have become great photo backdrops for guests. Each cost about $500 to create.
View photo gallery of images of the Westin Beach Resort & Spa holiday display.
By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel
1:23 p.m. EST, December 20, 2013