Jewish Journal

Pesach, Matzah, Maror and Massage

by Lisa Alcalay Klug

Posted on Feb. 17, 2005 at 7:00 pm


Thanks to an increasing number of spas offering Passover packages, a Pesach getaway doesn't necessarily have to lead to weight gain. There is no shortage of luxury resorts where you can nourish your spirituality, pamper your psyche and get a workout. In fact, several highly rated wellness centers are hosting seders this year for the first time, including the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Here is a sampling of top spas where you can escape kosher l'Pesach style. Although Passover doesn't begin until Saturday night, April 23, these packages accommodate religious travelers by including Shabbat the night before.

All pricing is per person, double occupancy, plus tax and gratuities and most programs offer a third-in-the-room price as well as children's pricing. To experience a massage or another treatment during your stay, schedule it well in advance by contacting spas directly at the earliest date possible. Otherwise, by the time you arrive, the choicest appointments will most likely be taken. The same is true for any spa visit -- year-round or at Passover.

Back to the Desert

The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa (www.arizonabiltmore.com) in Phoenix is known for its Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture and exceptional customer service. This luxurious desert oasis boasts eight swimming pools, a 92-foot water slide, golf, tennis and a kids' camp. Gardens, towering palm trees, a croquet green and giant chess pieces on the lawn decorate the picturesque grounds. The full-service spa offers an array of treatments and fitness classes. Nearby activities include desert jeep tours and hot-air balloon rides.

The Phoenix Vaad is providing glatt kosher supervision, with catering by Stuart Morginstin of Danziger Caterers. Prices range from $3,299 to $4,899. Contact Sheila Stein at (800) 883-5702 or visit www.VIPPassover.com.

By the Sea

The spa and fitness and wellness center at The Mauna Lani Hotel & Bungalows Resort & Spa (www.maunalani.com), on the Kohala Coast of the big island of Hawaii, incorporates local resources such as sea salt and macadamia nut oil into treatments. Packages include all meals, with supervision by the Vaad HaRabonim of San Diego, as well as entertainment, classes, synagogue services and day camps for preschoolers to teens. Prices start at $3,100 per person, double occupancy, plus 25 percent tax and tip. Call (800) 727-7683 or (323) 933-4033, or visit www.passoverresorts.com.

Packages are also available at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa in San Diego (marriott.com/property/propertypage/SANCI), starting at $3,000; the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa (RitzCarlton.com/resorts/Lake_Las_Vegas/) starting at $3,500. All prices are per person, double occupancy, plus 25 percent tax and tip. For more information about spa and wellness services, visit their respective Web sites.

Staying in So Cal

For the second year in a row, the Rancho Bernardo Inn near San Diego (www.ranchobernardoinn.com) features 12 tennis courts, two PGA-rated championship golf courses and two swimming pools. Its Passover package includes access to whirlpools, steam rooms and more. The spa's menu of additional-fee treatments includes a wide array of spa services.

Prices begin at $3,000, plus 25 percent tax and tips. The early-bird special features 12.5 percent tax and tips for bookings through mid-February. The cost includes three gourmet glatt kosher, cholov yisroel meals daily, a 24-hour tea room, shiurim and entertainment for kids and adults. Children's programs draw kids 12 and under and teens 13 and up. Contact Moshe Wein at Kosher Travels Unlimited (800) 832-6676 or visit www.koshertravelsunlimited.com.

On the Lido

For an international experience, Leisure Time Tours is hosting a Passover program on Venice's Lido Island in Italy. The oceanfront Sheraton Hotel Des Bains (desbains.hotelinvenice.com/) features an expansive pool and lawn area, three clay tennis courts and free shuttle boat service to St. Mark's Square and the city of Doges. Windsurfing, horseback riding and golf are all nearby. The scholar-in-residence is Rabbi Laibl Wolf and the cantor is Shimon Farkas. Prices start at $3,110 per person, double occupancy plus 24 percent tax and tips, and includes all meals, which are glatt kosher, cholov yisroel Italian cuisine, as well as the 24-hour tea room, entertainment, kids' day camp and more.

The Other Coast

New for 2005 is the Passover program at San Juan's Caribe Hilton (www.hiltoncaribbean.com/sanjuan), starting at $2,895. Kosher for Pesach luxury holiday vacations are also available in Florida at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (www.bocaresort.com), starting at $3,370; the Wyndham Miami Beach Resort (www.wyndham.com/hotels/MIAMB/main.wnt), starting at $2,705; and the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach Resort & Spa ("http://www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/palm_beach" target="_blank">www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/palm_beach, starting at $4,500 for a five-star, five-diamond Passover experience.

For more international and Passover options, visit www.totallyjewishtravel.com.

Lisa Alcalay Klug, a former staff writer for the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times, writes for The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times and other publications.


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