Wonderful program for families
This was an amazing program that was really well thought out, well communicated and loads of fun. I thought this was ideal for families with kids.
COMMUNICATION – we received a brochure upon our arrival that contained daily schedule, information about the team running & participating in the program, a list of & description of excursions, and miscellaneous information about the program that was helpful. When there were changes to the daily schedule, they were posted in the elevators, by the cafeteria and by the front desk in large print, so you wouldn’t miss it.
FOOD – we thought the food was delicious and plentiful. Reading some of the reviews here, there were some people whose expectations were not met, but for us, there was more than enough food and most importantly, today’s dinner wasn’t recycled into tomorrow’s lunch, as it happens on other programs. All food was made fresh daily and there was always something new and exciting each day. Breakfast was always dairy, with the most amazing quality lox and out of this world cheesecakes, my two personal favorites. On days when there were boiled eggs, they were always perfectly cooked, none of that blue stuff around the yolk or rubbery protein. Lunch and dinner always had a variety of salads, make your own salad bar, and perfectly cooked meat or chicken, as well as sometimes lox and sometimes fish.
Our kids, ages 7 and 4 never went hungry (and we didn’t bring a single snack from home with us). There were plenty of snacks around, the kids’ dinners were always fries and a choice of either really delicious shnitzels or sausages. There were always usually either sausages or shnitzels at adult meal times, so kids always had food and always had something that they would eat. I realize that if you’re young and single or have kids out of the house and are a “foodie”, this was a negative, but for the majority of us who had kids, this was a well thought out and well planned part of the program.
The meal times on non chag days were as follows: 7:30-10:30 breakfast; 12-2:30pm lunch; 5pm kids dinner; 7-9pm adult dinner; Also on non chag/shabbat days, there was a pool side shwarma bar from 12-5pm; Tea room was 10:30am-midnight and was stocked w/ crackers, matza, tuna salad, cake, cookies, tea, juice, alcoholic beverages, chocolate bars and potato chips. They had fruit in bowls scattered all over the lobby through out the day and loads of bottled water was always available in the lobby. So in my opinion, even if you wanted to go hungry, meal times were every few hours and there was plenty of food in between.
KIDS CLUB – it was run by Northwest London’s Dancing with Louise, a very well run and experienced kids’ activities operator in London. My kids came to the program hating the idea that they would be going to kids’ club, but from the first day, they couldn’t wait until the next scheduled program would begin. They begged to go and kept asking us what time it was and how long until they could go back. Kids club was run by very fun madrichim, who had loads of energy and excitement and had super fun games and programs that they were doing with the kids. Kids club hours were also fantastic. They were as follows: 10-12pm; 2:30-5pm; in the evening they had activities & shows, which i’ll mention in a little bit and on shabbat & chag days, also kids club around 7-9ish approximately. They had a garden with inflatables and outside games, the madrichim always had water on standby & made sure that kids drank, the rooms where kids were playing were always tidied up after activities, and kids were fed snacks and other delicious goodies such as ice pops from time to time.
ENTERTAINMENT – every single day there was something. For kids, they brought in outside companies to run the following programs: silent disco, superhero’s show, carnival (where they brought in outside jugglers and after the show, let the kids play with the juggling equipment), a magician and a reptile show! One night they also had a PJs & movie night. For adults, there was a disco night, a karaoke night, and a super fun mimouna party, complete with a photo booth. During dinner, several nights there was a band playing. There were several shiurim during the day, for men, women and both and also shiurim at night. The subjects were fascinating and very diverse.
HOTEL – hotel was very nice, and staff were very friendly and super helpful. We really enjoyed both the accommodations and the level of service we received.
PHOTOGRAPHER & DOCTOR – there was a photographer on staff who took pictures at the events and ran personal photo sessions at a very reasonable price. We ended up booking a photo session and couldn’t be happier with the results. Thank GD we didn’t need to use a doctor, but it was nice to know that one was available for consultations at scheduled times and on stand by for emergencies in case we needed one. This information was provided in the brochure, so it was good to know how to reach the doctor should we need him. FITNESS – on chol hamoed, there were daily zumba classes and an available personal trainer if you wanted one HICCUPS – there were some issues, and we personally were happy with how they were resolved. For example, on Friday before the chag began, which was the first meal service, kids’ meal was chaotic. They kept running out of food and the parents were kept waiting until new batches of food were made. That took some time as organizers didn’t anticipate the demand it seems. The next day, they came in with pre-plated meals and just handed them out, which was great, but the food got too cold for people who came in late. So the next day, they kept making batches of food at regularly spaced intervals and kept bringing the pre-plated food to the tables where kids were seated, which allowed virtually for no waiting time and warm meals. We personally were very impressed with the organizers’ quickness to respond and iterations to make something run smoothly. The desserts were out of this world. You couldn’t tell that they were not dairy or KLP. They were just amazing. So what happened with the first dessert spread is there was a mob that totally demolished everything that was laid out. So going forward to prevent the mayhem, organizers decided to do plated desserts for the table, but you had to ask for it. Some people really didn’t like that, but we really enjoyed the fact that we were ensured that we’d try the desserts without experiencing the mental & physical anguish of procuring it. One last negative thing that i’ll mention, that really put a damper on things for us, was the controversy surrounding food. As one of the reviewers mentioned here, she was really unhappy and decided to post about it on facebook on the Passover Reviews program group. She, in my opinion, unjustly so, dragged the program through the mud on a public forum because it didn’t meet her expecations. Those of us that were very happy with the program and really enjoyed the food were really angered by the amount of mud slinging that was put out there, unjustly so in our experience, and we expressed our opinion. So those that were unhappy started critisizing us, saying that those that were happy were either familiarly linked to the organizers or worked for them, and for me what was really ridiculous and out of line, was the critisism of my parenting, which was completely uncalled for. Furthermore, those that were unhappy, decided to go around, asking people their opinions and if they were unhappy, urging them to post on facebook. I was approached several times where I as a participant, had to defend my reasoning for really enjoying the program and listening to other people complain about their experience. On top of that, there was a really ugly incident with with unsatisfied customer aforementioned here that I and my little kids witnessed as we were coming out of the cafeteria. It was a physical altercation with name calling and men had to step in to pull women apart. I saw it as it unfolded, and it was UGLY. There was absolutely no need for that, and all parties were equally guilty for this ridiculous incident. My 7 year old had follow up questions as to why there was fighting among jewish people who were in line to make hamotzi…… Overall, I would highly recommend this program. We really enjoyed the location, the food, the programming, and if the organizers were to do it again next year, we wouldn’t hesitate to sign up or to recommend it to other people.