April 3, 2017

Passover Programs: a Tale of Two Cities

New York - With Passover now only a week away, some hotel programs are still fielding inquiries and taking reservations in a season that was a mixed bag in some areas, particularly Florida due to the Zika scare. An estimated 300,000 Jews will be spending either a part or the entire holiday in hotel programs throughout the world that some experts say has been “growing by leaps and bounds.” Some 200,000 Israelis go to hotels, mostly in Israel with as many as 20,000 believed to travel abroad. Estimates are that 80,000 American Jews participate in one of 70-80 programs in the US. An additional 20,000 are believed to come from Europe, South America, and Australia. While most programs reported at least 70% occupancy, there were several programs that floundered, including the program in La Jolla CA sponsored by the Prime Hospitality Group that was cancelled. Sources say that Prime is locked in a battle with the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines to recover some of the money deposited there. Florida was particularly hit hard as many would-be vacationers were warned to avoid the popular Passover destination because of the ongoing Zika scare. Several programs were cancelled in the Miami area. Kosher Today has learned that physicians have subsequently distinguished between South Florida (largely the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale) area and Central Florida (Orlando). More than 1,000 villas and homes were rented in the Orland area for the holidays. Perhaps most intriguing is the scope of the Passover hotel program which now includes luxury hotels in Mexico, Morocco, Africa, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Australia, Brazil, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, French Riviera, and Croatia. In additions to programs in luxury hotels, many smaller programs take place in other countries, including the US and Canada. Travel agents and other experts told Kosher Today that for most people “going away for Passover is more than avoiding the strenuous efforts to prepare a home for Passover. It is a combined holiday/vacation opportunity that many families take advantage of.”