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Apr 21, 2009 10:06 PM

Paradise Kosher In Scottsdale - A Review

We spent Pesach in Scottsdale at the Raddison Ft Mcdowell resort. Here is my review, I'd appreciate anyone elses opinion on this program and any others.

A caveat- My wife loves to try new places, and we wanted warm weather, and of course, price is always an issue. My needs were more complex, I wanted a good reliable Hechsher, and some good lectures, and I love nice Baalei Tefilla.

When we kept on seeing the Ads for the PKT in Scottsdale, (warm) under the OK, (Supposedly reliable Hechsher) and with a famous Chazzan, for a cheap price together with some encouraging posts in this forum, we made the reservations and sent the check. (no CC's).

truth be told, I had been on other programs and intuitively knew that i better lower my standards, and thats what I did, I just wanted the family and kids to enjoy, and hoped for the best.
as a result of this non expectancy policy, we in fact had a very pleasant time, and although there were many glitches and bumps, (see below) the family enjoyed ourselves.

Now for the critique.

FOOD- while plentiful at times, it was just plain OK, I dont believe there was any fresh (other than the 2 BBQ's, ) food cooked in Arizona. It tasted like everything was prepared off-site and trucked to A. and warmed up. certainly the breakfasts and pastries and almost all the side dishes were processed pre-prepared bought foods, in fact some (pancakes!) were very tasty but after a few days everything was just old, and by the end it was not too appealing, especially by the last day and Shabbos when they just hauled out all the leftovers, it was not good.
I have been to many programs and the chefs tried their best here, no chefs just warmers and carvers.
shabbos was just a plain chutzpah, doughy rolls, reheated meat and chicken and kishke, not fully cooked cholent, pesach noodle (non gebrokt) kugels etc etc.

The food was ok, but barely so, and at the end there simply wasn't enough.

Wine was plentiful but again, uninspiring.

No kiddush cups, first night of seder severe shortage of the seder neccesities, howeve on second night they did a nice thing that i never saw, they put a huge area in middle with tubs of eggs, potatoes, marror, mataza wine etc so that there was plenty, wish they wouldve done it first nght

The lines were horrible, many people just gave up, there were 2 carving stations for so many people, the lunches were very uninspiring and many complained that even on yom tov there was not a meat meal.

KASHRUS- very disappointing. way below the standards I and many others expected. The organizer (Chein) had his way with the kitchen, seemed like very few mashgichim on staff, certainly not enough for the 700 plus people that were there, I heard that the non-jewish staff had their dining room with complete bread nearby. Also, quite surprising that on the first night, the night before Pesach they served a complete chometz meal. it seemed so ridiculous to endanger the entire hotel chometz cleanliness for a couple of hamburger rolls.

AMBIANCE- the guy that runs the program, Mr Chein, looked like he was on a perpetual warpath, stalking thru the Dining room with a constant scowl, only greeting selected guests, i though tI was imagining it, or just too sensitive, until I overheard a whole group of people commenting on it. Someone must have told him Cuz on the last day, he made a point of going to every table to say hi. Too late.
There was a HUGE issue with the pool, that ruined the mood of many many people, of the type that I wouldnt think cared, it seems that he told everyone what they wanted to her, its separate swimming, its mixed swimming, its family swimming, you can swim on shabbos and Yom Tov anything, so on the first day of Pesach when people swarmed to the pool and others were (justifiably, at this was billed as a non-gebrokts, entire hotel kosher etc. all the buzz words) very upset, words flew, curses flew it was ugly,
The Rabbi, a nice elderly south African, totally ineffectual, it was a pity to see whole rows of people pack out of the shul as he got up to speak, tried to give a fiery speech but it was too late, and this marred the chag for many.
the crowd was a MO five towns crowd, a few black hats, some chabadniks, just very laid back.

Hotel- the accomodations were very nice, large rooms,helpful and friendly staff, absolutely no complaints there. although it is in middle of nowhere.

Speeches, lectures, chazonim , camp - everything mentioned was sub par except for the Baalei tfila which were superb.

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  1. Is it an inappropriate question to ask what this cost? I am just curious, as I have no experience with this type of thing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: queenscook

      He did advertise it at $5500 per room.

    2. We were guests at Paradise Kosher Tours and I agree with everything you said, except about Mr. Chein. He didn't come over to our table or greet us at all, even on the last day. As far as the swimming goes, I was told that the people who wanted mixed and swimming on Yom Tov had been with this program last Pesach and there was a problem as well. To the people who were upset about it, he promised that things would be different this year and to the others, he told them that they could do whatever they pleased. Regarding the food and the service, it was just awful.

      1. i was there as well and i agree with your assessment on many of the issues however you did omit some failed to mention that the chometz meal before pesach was not served in the dining room but out by the pool so the rolls really never endangered the pesach eating area. i have been to many program before where chometz meals were served prior to pesach and i don't think the way this was handled inapprpropritely and you knwo that when jews get off a long flight and coming to a program they want to be greeted foodwise with a bang and not with a container of orange juice and cookies.
        yes the swimming was an issue which i believe for the most part settled itself skipped mentioning that there were in fact 2 pools so eventually the mechitzas were set up and there was swimming to accomodate everyone. do i agree he made a mistake telling everyone what they wanted to hear whe nthey asked about swimming,absolutely!!
        should the mechitza have been up and standing when people arrived at the hotel? for sure!! i believe that was part of the problem people came there was no mechitza and then when they put it up they had to push the modern group to leave a certain area. the people that were raising their voices are the same people that always want things their way and see the world as black and fact some of the people that were upset about the lack of separate swimming actually said when they go away themselves somewhere on vacation they do what they pleased as far as swimming but since they have their children with them things have to be different.the usual hypocritical standards.
        truthfully people that don't want to leave room for human error should stay home.
        seder- yes ,the first seder night was a disaster as it is in many hotels that never had a pesach or kosher program before the wait staff which are generally not trained can't understand why the meal is running w/o a set one sitting a waitress told us she was called from the local emplyment agency and told they need as many people as possible to report to the hotel to help serve. i personally know that after the first night someone that is close to mr. chein told him" don't make yourself look cheap and stupid on stuff that you are going to have to supply anyway.make sure that there a several bottles of grape juice on the table not just one,give extra romaine and potatoes so instead of the wait staff running in circles to the kitchen to bring stuff that should be there to begin with they can focus on real requests and the guest will not have to be impatientwaiting for what should have been on the table to start. i agree the second night was much better and the waiters said there was a big meeting in the kitchen w/ mr. chein on how to improve the service.
        day camp-sub par-agreed.while i have children of day camp age my son refused to go .though i tried to take him several times and the camp staff did attempt to cajole him to stay the toddler group was very understaffed.i spent some time sitting with my son trying to coax him to stay and ended up reading books to 8-10 five year olds. the day camp director says he was told very late about the amount of children registered in the program.what i heard from several guests is that thety literally booked the last week.when we arrived with teenage children and friend they were immediately approached if they would consider working in the camp.
        mr.chein had his own issues to deal with on the side as the behavior of some of the guests children left alot to be desired.recreation games were destroyed,hotel property defaced.when i asked him towards the end of the program if the hotel would take him back next year he replied he hasn't had that meeting yet with them. someone told me the damages were in the range of $30,000. unfortunatley the behavior of few reflected on all of us as a group
        this was the first program that i've been at where all the meals except seder were buffet and i've been going away for 27 if very hard to do buffet for a large group.some lunches were very lacking in variety.overall the food was okay some days better than others. either way i gained 10 lbs. for many years our group was at the crown in miami-talk about sub par and every year we complained about the waiter ,the food ,the plumbing etc... when it closed we were all devastated because we lost a moment in our lives where the same group of friends spent time year after year we never made reservation we were just told call if you aren't coming,we never gave a deposit,the night before you left you went to the office and negotiated your bill based on the previous year's price...but alas those days are gone,so we deal with what is available. we went to pkt for the price and the company and a change of scenery. we heard that the bonaventure w/ lasko{a professional caterer and program operator} had many issues.people complained about the quality of the food or lack thereof. there is no way to make jews happy. overall we were very satisfied. we enjoyed the hotel,the company,the food and would consider returning next year for the right price as we didn't do any sightseeing because of some of our younger kids

        4 Replies
        1. Correction to my post. Mr. Chein did not stand behind his promise of aseparate swimming. And I beg to differ to Mr. Gleibler. As for the meals being all buffet except for the two seders, that is absolutely not true. Only the lunches were buffet and all the evening Yom Tov meals were sit down with waiter service. We've been going away for over twenty five years and this was the worst.

          1. re: magsm

            Thanks magsm, you saved me the need to correct you re the swimming and the buffet.

            i'd like to round out some of the above comments. Im happy gleibler had great memories of what was probably a dump in Miami, I've been to those hotels, but that has nothing to do with what we pay for and expect today. good luck showing up at a popular program without a reservation you'll be laughed out of the hotel.

            I stand behind the following statements.

            1) for the most part there was no such thing as separate swimming, most of the time the mechitza wasn't up and even when it was there were so many females etc. in the mens side it was worthless.

            2) the bread at the Bar BQ was in the pool area but i was told kids were seen taking out rolls, and anyways it makes no difference, there should not have been bread, in cases of need ie pesach on shabbos some places only had egg matza and i have NEVER seen a program with Bread. I was told that Chein planned to serve bread Erev Pesach breakfast and the mashgiach stopped him.

            3) The lunches were all buffet, and they were not tasty. The box lunches were a joke and they ran out.

            4) Chein knew how many people were coming at least two weeks in advance he aslo knew how many kids there were as this is an obligation for the hotel to know the beds etc.
            so the day camp thing is a lie, he was cheap in getting counselors just as he was cheap in getting games etc. and the reason kids destroyed things etc and were seen throwing rocks etc is mostly due to boredom and no supervision, something I never ever saw in another quality program. kids that have a good program are happy and dont destroy things, thats a fact.

            The pity is, the program couldve been nice, it had the "bones" of a nice program but he was an arrogant lying bum, good luck to anybody foolish enough to go to him next year.

            1. re: Cholent Fresser

              My family and friends feel the same way.

          2. re: gleibler

            hi gliebler, tyring to reach you to see where you heading this year? you were in orlando with york what is your take.

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