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Westdrift Hotel Honors 'Day of the Dead'

Oct 23, 2019 10:35PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A massive ofrenda, or Day of the Dead altar, is currently on display at Westdrift Hotel in Manhattan Beach. Created by Westdrift staff, the ofrenda is almost certainly the largest and most spectacular in town.

"Día de los Muertos is an important holiday to many of our staff members," said Maureen Leary, director of sales and marketing of Westdrift Manhattan Beach. "We wanted to share the cultural tradition of building ofrendas and nichos - which a large portion of our staff and many people in Southern California hold so dear to their hearts - with our guests that walk through our doors."

This year is the first year that the staff has built an ofrenda. Leary noted that it holds special significance to the hotel. 

"The name 'Westdrift' is inspired by the history of Manhattan Beach and Southern California," Leary said. "During an internal team meeting, our team was talking about how we can continue to reflect the heritage of Southern California and the many cultures that reside here. Día de los Muertos came up in the conversation, and the entire team worked together to build the ofrenda."

The five-tiered display reaches almost one story high. It is filled with flowers, food, drinks, and photos and mementos of loved ones.

About a dozen staff members had a hand in creating the altar, said Leary, from building the ofrenda to creating the drinks, to preparing the food, to contributing personal items.

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is actually a multi-day holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. The holiday involves gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. Traditionally, children are memorialized on November 1, and adults on November 2.

Families make altars to honor those who have passed, creating often elaborate decorations in their loved ones' memory. The altars commonly include photos and shadowbox art (nichos) representing loved ones. Favorite foods and drinks are also placed on the ofrenda

The food and drink that is placed on the ofrenda at Westdrift Hotel was created by in-house chefs. According to Leary, Chef David Hernandez of JUTE Coastal Bar and Kitchen created special dishes that he holds close to his heart for the occasion, such as candied pumpkin. "He placed those ingredients along the ofrenda, so as we invite those who have died to return, they will return to their favorite flavors," she said.

Nicole Colclasure, Westdrift's food and beverage supervisor, also created specialty cocktails including a Spicy Passion Fruit Paloma, Firing Squad, Emerald Sunrise and Electric Margarita, she said.

If you come to the hotel to view the ofrenda, you can have a chance to sample these culinary creations. The special Day of the Dead cocktails and menu items will be available at Jute through November 3.

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