There is no shortage of opportunity to check out holiday decorations in Uptown. The Panthers, NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Trade and Tryon plaza all have trees to check out within blocks of one another. Romare Bearden Park looks amazing gussied up in the park-decorating equivalent of a sharp Armani suit. If modern glitz is more your holiday style, you can go to EpiCentre for all kinds of decorations, exactly of the ilk you have come to expect from the EpiCentre.
But I’m here to tell you that the best holiday decorations in Uptown are in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. The only drawback with their set-up is that there are no window displays, so the decorations aren’t visible from the street, a la Macy’s/Lord and Taylor in New York. But they are on that level.
The best way to check out the decor is to plan a stop at Bar Cocoa, the hotel’s chocolate and dessert bar on the corner of Trade and College. That way, you can browse the decorations free of any guilt or imagined suspicion because you aren’t a guest at the hotel. If it’s unseasonably warm, grab some gelato. If Brad Panovich has blessed us with an actual winter chill in the air, Bar Cocoa serves up one of the best lattes in town, in addition to having fancy candy for those of you in the mood to splurge.
If you can’t make it into Uptown to check out this winter wonderland, you’re in luck. Your pal TW is here to take you on a photo adventure full of whimsy and holiday cheer:
How many trees do you have in your house? One? Pfft. This display hits you hard with TEN trees as soon as you walk in. And one looks like it’s made out of macarons. The rest are real. Your decorations are inadequate, and the Ritz wants you to know that from the jump.
Remember that awesome tree made of macarons you just saw? Well guess what? That tree stinks. Look at this tree, a taller, more impressively-lit tree literally feet from that one you just thought was nice. And that’s not all. This tree is so impressive it needs its own fence. Why? To house all the toys that surround it. We are 9 feet into this journey and your socks have already been knocked off.
Slightly to the left of that tree I was just raving about is a life-size gingerbread house. You can drive 40 minutes to wait in 90 minutes of traffic and pay $45 to see the holiday lights at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, or you can pay zero dollars to check out this awesome house the Ritz built just for the holidays. Life is full of choices.
I see all these characters milling about this gingerbread house and I can’t help but ask a bunch of questions. Do they all live there? There are like 12 characters. Is this a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs situation? What kind of rent do they pay? I don’t trust that one near the front door.
Remember that gingerbread house from two nanoseconds ago? Well, you turned around and now you’re in a bar where James Bond just finished playing the piano with his bow tie coyly undone as he scanned the room for the billionaire playboy who is secretly trying to poison Monaco’s water supply during the G8 Summit.
Photographing the Ritz for promotional materials must be the easiest job in the world. I took this picture on a terrible iPhone 5c with a smudged lens.
I like this display, but I can’t help but have a few more questions. Is the big teddy bear meant to be Santa? Why is he sitting on another teddy bear? Is this a Goofy/Pluto situation?
You’ve just bought a delicious coffee and some sort of delectable cupcake at Bar Cocoa and you turn to pay and HOLY CRIPES ON TOAST. You see this thing. It’s horrifying. Is this a Krampus? Or was this the result of some well-intentioned artist gone horribly wrong? Either way, I’m getting away from that thing.
This tree appears to be made of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Could I eat this entire tree? Yes. Yes I could.
Our photo tour comes to an end with this tree. I guarantee you’ll see this picture or one like it at least 10 times on Instagram over the next three weeks. There are three reasons why:
(1) Location – it’s right at the corner of Trade and College, where there is plenty of foot traffic.
(2) Timing – since it’s on the corner, if you’re trying to cross the street you’ll inevitably be waiting to get a walk signal to cross to Founders Hall or the EpiCentre. This means you’ll think to yourself, “Hey, I have 15 seconds, and this tree is right here. I can snap this picture and put it on Instagram to make it seem like I am having a fun holiday adventure in the city even though I’m walking to the CVS in EpiCentre to buy zit cream on my lunch break.”
(3) Implied Earth-Consciousness – “It’s a totally environmentally-friendly decoration!” you say to yourself. Of course the bottles are recycled. They’re empty. By definition they are being recycled since they now have a use other than containing Mountain Dew. Also, I don’t think anything can “soar” 17 feet into the air.