Christmas Showcase: The Story of a Centrepiece

on Tuesday, 19 December 2017. Posted in News

At The Landmark London by the Frosts Christmas Team


Background and creative concept
The Landmark London is a 5 Star luxury hotel and Frosts have had the privilege of designing and installing their Christmas decorations for several years. Last year the brief was to streamline the components of the scheme so that each one stood out and gave the maximum impact to guests and visitors while also working to a reduced budget compared to previous years.

During the briefing early in the year it was clear that the client wanted to make an even more special feature of the 23ft hand-manicured Nordmann Fir tree centerpiece in the historic ‘Winter Gardens’. The tree is greatly appreciated by guests and visitors so the whole installation process was going to be recorded for a time lapse video for their hotel electronic Christmas Card and for use on social media.

Foyer 3

We have great experience in choosing and installing hand-manicured trees and understand the challenges in making them look perfect so we were confident that we could meet the client’s needs. We also appreciate the strict requirements of the hotel that mean it is essential to install the tree with as little disruption to the guests as possible. Accordingly, the decision was taken to carry out the moving and lifting tasks during the night when there were the least people around, while the lighting and decorating of the tree could be completed in the daytime.

The decision to decorate during the day created a great deal of interest and a bit of theatre for the dining guests.

The restaurant

1 x Hand Manicured 23ft Nordmann Fir tree

We personally select our hand-manicured trees to ensure that they will give the impact that our client’s understandably insist on. This tree was grown by an approved supplier who we have worked with for many years

Unlike normal naturally grown trees, a hand-manicured tree will have been hand-pruned twice per year from when the tree was about 10ft tall. This care means that the tree will have the fullness and symmetry associated with a Christmas Card tree.

It was also essential for this installation to have a hand-manicured tree due to the tight width restrictions when accessing the building and the limited space in which the tree was to be positioned. We searched carefully to find what we believed to be suitable trees and then sent pictures to the client so that they could approve our selection. The chosen tree was then reserved until the time was right for it to be cut.

The tree

A 23ft tree, such as the one chosen for The Landmark, would be approximately 35 years old.

In addition to the centrepiece tree we also provided 6 x 14.5ft artificial trees with lights for the exterior balconies, 2 x 12ft hand-manicured trees with lights for the rear entrance and a 7ft fully decorated artificial tree for one of the bars. A 60” wreath and 4 x 9ft garlands were installed on the front canopy and their existing buxus balls were also lit.

Picture 2

It is often very difficult to install large trees indoors as, although there will be a suitable space to house such a feature inside, the access to that location might be quite difficult for 8 people man-handling a 23ft tree that weighs close to one tonne. Hand-manicured trees are far denser and heavier than their naturally grown equivalents.

As ever the key is to have a full understanding of the site and the route in advance so that everyone is in the right place at the right time and fully understands what is required of them. Ultimate care must be taken to ensure that no damage whatsoever is caused to the client’s site e.g. we have to move a large glass table to make way. The tree is then carried up two flights of ornate steps to the tree’s eventual location.

Decorating Landmark

The tree is laid on its side and the netting is removed from the top half. It is then lifted onto builder’s trestles so that the top 8ft can be lit and decorated. This is done as this task cannot be carried out when the tree is upright and the top of the tree will be out of safe reach even from the decorators’ ladders.

The tree is placed into the custom built stand and secured with locking bolts and lifted upright. This is where the maximum amount of manpower is required. Once upright, the tree is checked to ensure that it is perfectly straight when viewed from all angles. This is verified with the client as the tree is being positioned and once agreed the packing is placed in the stand and final adjustments of the bolts are made.

There is very limited space around the tree when it is upright so the area is cordoned off with barrier cord to provide a safe working area and to give a clear route for guests & staff.

The team then continue to light the tree from the top moving down. In total nearly 5,000 individual bulbs were be installed on the tree.

Foyer 2

When the two experienced decorators arrive the tree is upright and their colleagues will be finishing putting the lights on. This gives the decorators chance to sort out the 40 containers and 6 large sacks of decorations that they will require and to store them in a way that makes them accessible while not being an inconvenience to the guests and visitors.

Once the lighting is completed the decorators will continue to dress the tree from the top down as the lower branches need more time to settle once the tree is upright. We use large platform ladders to reach these areas and the team will make many journeys up and down as there are only a limited amount of decorations that can be taken up the ladder at any time. It has been estimated that there are about 600 journeys up the ladders meaning that 4,800ft will have been climbed. That is greater than the height of Ben Nevis!

When decorating such a large tree there is always the challenge of making sure that the decorations are even across the tree and indeed that each decorator is working the same so that the tree looks consistent from every angle. The decorators also have to work under the scrutiny of the guests who enjoy watching the process from their dining tables.

The restaurant 3

In total it takes 24 man hours for the decorating to be completed. We will have initially set out to install approximately 1500 decorations but that number may increase due to the individual nature of each tree and also any feedback from the client as the installation takes place. Each decoration has to be securely wired on for safety reasons.


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