By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – For the first time, The Brown Palace is offering its annual holiday tea experience as a take home event with a virtual piano performance. The COVID-19 pandemic and current restrictions in the city forced the hotel to make an adjustment to the tradition that dates back more than 30 years.

(credit: The Brown Palace)

“We’ve never seen anything like this, this is truly unprecedented,” John Kite said on a video conference call with CBS4 on Wednesday. “We have an empty lobby, we have a Christmas tree, we have a piano, we have lights everywhere, and here we sit.”

Kite has played the piano for The Brown Palace for decades, including during the holiday season for its lobby tea experience. He recorded a 30-minute session guests can watch on YouTube while they enjoy the take-home set, which includes tea bags, tea sandwiches, desserts, scones, and other accompaniments you would find if you dined at the hotel.

(credit: CBS)

“It wouldn’t feel like the holiday season without our teas at the Brown,” said Amie Morozs, sitting with her daughter in front of a take home set on Wednesday. “It’s a special time because of those traditions that we have continued with the family and it’s not just the two of us who enjoy tea together.”

Morozs attended holiday tea at the historic downtown hotel for years as a child. She remembers the experience of dressing up with her grandmother. The tradition continues in her family with her daughter, who first went to The Brown Palace for tea at the age of three.

(credit: Morozs family)

“Every time we go during Christmas, they have the beautiful tree up and they have the piano player John playing, and it’s just so magical,” said Tinsley Morozs, 12, on the same video conference call with her mother. “It just makes it so special to know that I’m able to continue on our Brown legacy.”

Kite says he loves the connections he builds with families year after year, as children get older and they have their own children to create new memories. He says the virtual experience will help them keep that bond when everyone must stay home because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“You just have to know that it’s the kids, you just can’t help but feel the spirit of the holiday season at The Brown Palace Hotel when there’s kids that come up and they want to sing ‘Frosty The Snowman’ again,” he said.

While speaking to CBS4, Kite had the traditional holiday tea spread next to him and shared some of his favorite items in the package. Kite says Blood Orange is his favorite tea blend. Customers can choose which one they want to bring home.

“I want to tell you about this butterscotch and pumpkin scone, it’s to die for,” he said. “The fact that it is sitting this far away from me and I’m not eating it is a miracle.”

(credit: The Brown Palace)

The Moroz family usually spends multiples afternoons at The Brown Palace scheduling numerous holiday tea reservations with family, friends, and business clients. They have already tried the take home experience once and plan to order it again.

“It’s been great, they do such an amazing job, everything is so fresh, it is as fresh as it is inside the Grand Lobby,” Mrs. Moroz said. “We’re making new memories at home, I think this is a great new tradition for us this year.”

She says that during such an unusual time, any sense of normalcy can help their family get through the difficulties and appreciate moments together at home. Her daughter agreed, saying it is even more special because they’re having the tea at home as a family.

“If you can keep experiencing this magic, then when we get back, it’s going to be a real treat,” Moroz’s daughter said.

Staff at The Brown Palace keep busy putting together the sets, a way for more people to stay employed during the pandemic when they cannot serve guests at the hotel. Kite knows how hard it is for families to not see each other in person if they’re not living in the same household. He was emotional when promising the traditional tea experience will return in 2021.

“I want you know to know that we plan on being here for everybody, we plan on keeping this tradition alive,” he said.

You can order a “Piece of the Palace Tea To Go” by calling 303-312-5924 and select option 2 to make an order. The hotel is also hosting a photo contest on Instagram. Each Monday through Jan. 4, they will give away an in-person tea experience for two when dining can resume at The Brown Palace. A grand prize will be chosen from the weekly winners offering tea for four, a one night stay at the hotel and breakfast for four.

“The way that it is packaged, you can tell they’re putting the same care into it that they are when they serve you in the lobby in person,” Mrs. Moroz said. “I just think that we’re all going to be so grateful for all these experiences and really hold them close, much closer than we did before.”

Fore more information about specials at The Brown Palace, visit their website.

Shawn Chitnis