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Demand for fat Santa soars as hotels search for ‘perfect’ Father Christmas


For many people around the world, the festive season is simply an opportune time to fill stomachs with delicious foods, bond with family and friends and receive amazing gifts or tours to exotic locations. The festive season is also a serious time for hotels too.

It is not only an occasion to rave in revenue, but also win public admiration through complex decorations and amusing entertainment. It starts with unveiling a mammoth Christmas tree befitting the hotel’s status. The tree is often imported from China or Dubai and top-of-the-list guests are invited to the tree lighting ceremony where special Mulled Wine is sipped over traditional Stollen cake.

Then High Afternoon Tea follows at the hotel’s lobby as a choir entertains guests. At this time, even the meanest hotels suddenly become generous and offer all guests (whether driving or walking to the hotel) some take away pastries and a Christmas card.

But it is the choice of decorations and the selection of a Santa Claus that distinguishes top hotels for lowly pretenders. Take an example of Fairmont The Palm, Dubai. The gorgeous hotel made history recently after it launched worldwide competition to find perfect Santa.

These were the key attributes: “He should have a jolly disposition, must be compatible with elves, have a certain-sized waistline, need a minimum length of his white beard and of course, must ooze festive flair.”

The ideal candidate, says the hotel, must be jolliest, gleaming and red-faced. He will be in charge of checking letters and children wish list, examining Christmas tree decorations, entertaining crowd with loudest “Ho, Ho, Ho-Merry Christmas” and lifting heavy sacks with festive gifts.

Seriously, if that’s your dream job, why not give it a try! While no immediate news is available about the lucky chap whose breakfast will be a glass of milk and a plate of biscuits, a local hotel is running a similar competition amongst its staff, with the lucky winner guaranteed Sh30,000, a shopping voucher and dinner for two in the hotel’s finest restaurant.

“You can’t have hands as thin as toothpicks, tiny waist and diminutive frame and hope to be picked. Santa is big and big is generous,” says the hotel general manager, breaking in an ironic smile.

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