Before and after at the Bellagio Conservatory’s holiday transformation

My time with Jerry Bowlen, executive director of horticulture at the Bellagio went something like this: “Please Jerry, lemme hang just one ornament, just one.” NO. “I promise, if you let me hang one ornament, I won’t touch anything else.” NO. Then he stopped me from being squished by a crane hauling a colossal rocking horse. Despite Jerry’s lack of sleep and my double shot of espresso, I’d say we got along smashingly. Check out the before and after shots of the Bellagio Conservatory holiday transformation:

Before1

Before: Baby bear awaiting carnation application. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

After: 5,000 carnations in each baby polar bear. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Everybody knows Jerry. He’s the most popular guy in the building, and not just because of his beaming personality. His team is responsible for the legendary design and execution of the Bellagio Conservatory each season, and they are friggin’ rockstars. After lots of sucking up and a little bit of begging, he was cool enough to toss me a hard hat and let me tag along during the holiday installation. Let me be the first to tell you, this has got to be one of the most elaborate holiday displays anywhere, let alone Vegas. The conservatory was buzzing with action and the team worked like a well-oiled machine.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Before: Jack-in-the-Box being unpacked. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

After: Jack-in-the-Box stands 12 feet tall & 6 feet wide. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

It’s all hands on deck when they tear down the previous display and install the next. About 75 people work around the clock for a week to make the transition happen. The holiday display is the toughest for two reasons: It’s an insane amount of work for a display that lasts less than 30 days and probably because they have to wrestle the 42-foot tree through the hotel doors and hallways. It’s also one of the most popular displays throughout the year so Jerry shrugs off the complexity and says they’ll do whatever it takes to make it an unforgettable experience for guests.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Before: Rocking Horse craned into place above a bed of mulch. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

After: The animated rocking horse stands 9 feet tall & 10 feet wide. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

The design’s centerpiece is, but of course, a 42-foot White Fir tree from Mt. Lassen, in Northern California. Each year, Jerry and his team go to the alpine forests near Mt. Shasta to find the star of the show. Then they haul all 6,800 pounds of it back to Vegas. It took 64 hours to decorate the Christmas tree with more than 2,500 ornaments and 7,000 lights. Be happy you’re not paying the electric bill. The tree is flanked by wrapped gifts, 14-foot-tall twirling toy soldiers and 10-foot-long stockings that are suspended from the ceiling.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

The live 42-foot White Fir tree. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

But what you really want to know is the fast facts, I get it:

Total flowers used: 34,000

  • 28,000 Poinsettias
  • 2,000 Azaleas
  • 2,000 Cyclamen
  • 2,000 Ottowa mums

Total plants and shrubs: 750
Total trees on display: 25

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Holiday Tree

White Fir from Mt. Lassen, California
Height: 42 feet
Diameter: 18 feet
Weight: 6,800 pounds
Number of lights: 7,000
Number of ornaments: 2,500

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Mother Polar Bear: 12,000 carnations

Polar Bear Cubs: 5,000 carnations each

Rocking Horse: 9 feet tall and 10 feet wide

Snow Globes: 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Snow Tunnel: 14 feet tall and 12 feet wide

Stockings: 10 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep

Illuminated Moon: 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com.

Toy Soldiers: 14 feet tall

Jack-in-the-Box: 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide

Snowflakes: 10, 8 and 6 feet

Ornaments: 10 feet in diameter

Before: Baby bear awaiting carnation application. Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Photo by Ashley Oñoz-Wright/Vegas.com

Jerry and I are now best buds, even if he doesn’t know it. I made him pinky swear he’d take me through the floral warehouses in the spring so stay tuned for more Bellagio behind-the-scenes action. Hope your season is merry and bright.

Comments

Born a Buckeye - raised a Hoosier. I grew up in a one-horse town that straddles the Indiana/Ohio state line and until 2006, was in two different time zones. There were three stoplights and a whopping 48 students in my graduating class. Fast forward a few years later, I was bitten by the travel bug and decided to head west. It seems like no matter how long I live here, there’s always something that still makes my jaw drop. That’s what I love about Vegas; you never know what you’re going to see next and that’s what makes living here so much fun. Basically, if you’re bored in this town, there’s something wrong with you…not the city. I’m an avid traveler with an incurable case of wanderlust so stay tuned for all the tours, attractions and shopping adventures that Sin City has to offer.