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How Honolulu's hotels get decked out for the holidays

How Honolulu's hotels get decked out for the holidays
A 50-foot-tall three is the centerpiece of the Honolulu City Lights festival held in downtown through Jan. 1. (Tammy Seymour)

As Christmas approaches, not all of the sand in Waikiki will be along the beach. Honolulu hotels show their holiday spirit with sand sculptures, the aroma of gingerbread and sightings of Santa.

A massive sand sculpture depicting a Christmas tree and a menehune, a mythical Hawaiian pixie, adorns the lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki.
A massive sand sculpture depicting a Christmas tree and a menehune, a mythical Hawaiian pixie, adorns the lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki. (Sheraton Waikiki)

For the 12th straight year, the Sheraton Waikiki is treating guests to seasonal sand sculptures with the theme"The 12 Days of Sheraton Waikiki Christmas."

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Forget the five golden rings and a partridge in a pear tree. The resort's take on the holiday tune instead features island icons, such as hula dancers, floral lei and roasted kalua pig.

A roasted kalua pig, a staple of luaus in Hawaii, is the centerpiece of one of the Sheraton Waikiki's holiday sand sculptures. (Sheraton Waikiki)
A roasted kalua pig, a staple of luaus in Hawaii, is the centerpiece of one of the Sheraton Waikiki's holiday sand sculptures. (Sheraton Waikiki) (Sheraton Waikiki)

The sculptures, crafted by Florida-based Sandsational Sand Sculpting, are massive and took several weeks to create. The one of a mai tai-sipping Santa, located in the hotel's porte cochere, contains 50 tons of sand.

Standing 10 feet tall and coated in pink-colored icing, the replica of the Royal Hawaiian's bell tower is a twist on the traditional gingerbread house.
Standing 10 feet tall and coated in pink-colored icing, the replica of the Royal Hawaiian's bell tower is a twist on the traditional gingerbread house. (Royal Hawaiian Resort)

Holiday sculpting takes a different form nearby at the Royal Hawaiian Resort. There, travelers are being treated to a 10-foot-tall replica of the hotel's bell tower, with gingerbread as the building blocks.

Executive pastry chef Carolyn Portuondo used 80 sheets of gingerbread to build her tasty tower. She covered it with 200 pounds of icing – pink, just like the hotel's exterior – and 50 pounds of chocolate.

Royal Hawaiian Resort's bakery sells kits for a gingerbread house for $30.
Royal Hawaiian Resort's bakery sells kits for a gingerbread house for $30. (Royal Hawaiian Resort)

For those who want to build their own gingerbread masterpieces, Portuondo has created kits that contain all the ingredients families will need. The kits sell for $30 in the hotel's Royal Bakery.

Not wanting to be outdone, the creative bakers at Waikiki's oldest hotel, the Moana Surfrider, have built a gingerbread hotel 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall.

Pastry chefs Carmen Montejo, left, and Nanako Perez-Nava stand beside their miniature replica of the Moana Surfrider, Waikiki's oldest hotel.
Pastry chefs Carmen Montejo, left, and Nanako Perez-Nava stand beside their miniature replica of the Moana Surfrider, Waikiki's oldest hotel. (Moana Surfrider)

Pastry chef Nanako Perez-Nava and her assistant, Carmen Montejo, built a miniature of the oceanfront hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1901.

The duo spent 60 hours crafting the replica, using 20 pounds of gingerbread dough, 25 pounds of royal icing, 300 macaron shells and 8 pounds of candy.

The intricate display includes penguins arriving at the front door and Christmas trees in the lobby.

Roughly four miles from Waikiki, downtown Honolulu beckons visitors with its long-running Honolulu City Lights celebration.

Through Jan. 1, colorful lights and holiday displays can be viewed along King and Punchbowl streets, with free parking nightly at the Fasi Municipal Building, 650 S. King St., Honolulu.

Tourists and locals alike are invited to toast Christmas with free cookies and milk 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 22.

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