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Westin hosts extra-special Passover

April 17, 2014
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village is booked solid with a special Passover event that has attracted attendees worldwide.

The luxury hotel, with the help of its business partner in this endeavor, has been transformed for 10 days into a Jewish Passover vacation site, and has gone all out to make sure the hotel keeps this business into the future.

Legendary Destinations, a New York City-based catering and touring company that specializes in hosting Passover retreats, is holding its annual Passover Pesach 2014 at the hotel now until April 23.

Judging by the nearly 600 people and 200 families that have come from around the world to book the resort solid, it has been a win-win for everybody involved.

Stefanie Eakin, marketing and sales manager at the Westin said all this came about as a result of lots of hard work over the past year.

"We got the information and it was back and forth with co-owner Alan Schoenfeld to see if this was a fit for a resort," Eakin said. "It was a lot of work to make this happen."

For Schoenfeld, who has done Passover programs throughout Florida, it was the location that made the Westin such a good fit.

"We wanted to give the area the opportunity to get on the Passover map. We felt there was a need for a quieter location than the craziness of Miami or Orlando to enjoy the holiday," Schoenfeld said.

The 10-day holiday features a lineup of entertainment including comics, musicians, child-friendly performers and daycamps, and lecturers, as well as upscale kosher cuisine. Special theme nights and parties are also planned, and there's something to do almost around the clock, Schoenfeld said.

As for the food, the company and hotel are promising customers elevated authentic kosher cuisine that "breaks down the barriers and stereotypes of what is expected of Kosher food and takes its cuisine to new levels of taste and sophistication," the company website states.

The Westin has converted its kitchen into a kosher kitchen, and has included a 24-hour restaurant. And to make sure the resort is fully kosher, everything is under strict supervision of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board.

"It's a matter of comfort and trust. It's coming here knowing all aspects of the Jewish holidays are met," Schoenfeld said.

There will be 12 counselors and 10 babysitters on staff, as well as three shuttles a day taking vacationers to and from the beach.

Legendary Destinations has also brought in great entertainment, with bands such as rockers Eig8th Day and Soul Farm, musician Steve Bill, magician Ben Cohen and comedian Freddie Roman. There will even be a radio show done every morning.

The event will feature spiritual programming featuring world-renowned speakers Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg, principal of Judaic Studies at North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, New York, Rabbi Yossi Labkowski, Chabad Jewish Center, and lecturer Mark Weitzman.

People can also participate in daily minyanim and daf yomi.

For the children, there is a fully-supervised camp program with activities for Yom Tov and non-holiday days.

The Passover Pesach price reflects the offerings. It runs about $4,500 per person and $15,000 for a family of four. Schoenfeld said it is like a cruise ship on land, as nearly everything - food, shuttle, accommodations and any other necessity - is included.

Vacationers have been impressed with the accommodations, saying they are bigger than their apartments in New York City.

Schoenfeld said he's been impressed with the Westin, and is working on getting a long-term agreement with them.

"Getting people to come from around the world to see Southwest Florida as a destination and to experience our hotel is a great opportunity for the tourism community," Eakin said. "Passover groups are an option for us in the future, and we're very excited about that."



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