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From twinkling lights to holly wreaths, decorations are all part of the Christmas magic. We catch up with The Grove’s Executive Housekeeper, Amelia Lawrence, to talk about this year’s festive style.
When C.S Lewis dreamed up Narnia, his creation went down as one of the greatest winter wonderlands in the history of fiction. Remembered by adults as a place of adventure, The Grove will be recreating its magic for the next generation, bringing the mythical country to life in its Christmas decorations. “Every year we have a décor theme,” explains Amelia. “This year we’ll recreate scenes from Narnia in our lobby, as well as theming the decorations around the rest of the hotel. From a lamppost in the reception, right through to our full-scale woodland installations, we’ll be pulling out all the stops to keep the magic alive.”
The perfect tree
Of course, no Narnia would be complete without trees, and luckily Amelia has been dedicated to the search. Along with the Head Gardener David Roberts and Deputy Head Gardener Natasha Geldenhuys, she’s helped to select 45 Christmas trees from Littlefield Farm near Harpenden, which specialises in the production of beautiful trees for luxury venues. Every single one is unique, and the trees are carefully selected based on size and shape. “Our largest tree is our 20 foot (6m) showstopper in the formal gardens. It has to be a perfect 360 degree tree, as guests will be able to view it from every angle,” she explains. “The farmer we go to has been in business for 30 years. He is absolutely passionate about his trees and believes in energy lines within the forest, which just adds to the magic. He understands what our hotel needs and helps us deliver this every year.”
The process of creating a winter wonderland isn’t without its challenges, but Amelia says it’s one of the most enjoyable jobs of the year. “We head out to choose the trees at the end of October and it takes a long time to find all the trees we need of varying shapes and sizes for different parts of the hotel. For example, some need to be completely round, others can be a bit less symmetric, because they’re going next to a fire.”
Festive style doesn’t stop with the trees, and every area of the hotel features Christmas decorations- all tailored to different rooms. “For example, the lobby will feature lots of silver and frosty colours, with fawn decorations to reflect our Narnia theme. In our meetings and event spaces, you’ll come to an area that’s decorated with blues and turquoise to match the interior of the rooms.”
As a family hotel, all the décor schemes are created with children in mind, and Amelia loves to add little touches she knows they’ll love. Every year more than 5,000 gingerbread hang from the trees, each with little ribbons individually tied on by the hotel’s florist. “We spend a lot of the Christmas season replacing the ones on the lower branches as they can get broken easily. Plus they must be very tempting for children- we often find some gingerbread men with a missing leg where someone has taken a bite,” says Amelia, who appoints herself as ‘gingerbread watchman’ during the festive season.
It takes a full five days for a specialist team to put up all the installations and decorations, but Amelia says it’s worth the wait. “In December people travel to the hotel just to come for lunch and see our incredible decorations. Over the years we’ve become famous for them- they’re a feature that’s unique to the hotel at Christmas time.”
Visit The Grove to see our spectacular decorations from 1 December. Those who want to indulge with a luxury break can also check out our Christmas, Twixmas and New Year packages here.