A relaxing Pesach getaway to Orlando has turned into a nightmare for hundreds of folks this year.
Described as “a five-star hotel program without the hotel” on its website, the “A Different Pesach Program” at the Windsor West Side allegedly ran into some serious financial issues, leaving many families without food being delivered timely or a place to Daven. There were all types of claims circulating on social media, including that there is no food whatsoever and that people were threatened with eviction.
The program’s owner appears to have vacated the premises, leaving his remaining staff to contend with hundreds of shocked and disgruntled patrons, according to the Times of Israel.
As our readers are aware, thousands of people rent villas in Orlando for Pesach, traveling there with family and friends. Many join programs like this one, which provide a private villa, meals delivered to the home (villa), as well as common facilities like a Shul.
YWN spoke to multiple residents who said they saw no signs of trouble when they arrived, but the problems began shortly thereafter.
One source told YWN that the Matzah and wine were delivered just an hour before Yom Tov on Erev Pesach, as the delivery company refused to allow the items to be unloaded until they were paid in full. It seems that two guests at the program used their own credit cards to ensure that the delivery was released. On Thursday, staff also learned that one of the property owners was owed $6,000.
On Sunday morning, guests returned from Shul to find a notice on the door stating that the codes to the doors would be changed if payment was not made immediately. Times of Israel reports eviction notices were put on 11 villas, eight occupied by staff and three by guests.
By Monday (the first day of Chol Hamoed), the Sheriff had taken away all common areas being used by the program, including the kitchen, Shul and other public areas. This left hundreds without a place to Daven. It appears the resort and other companies were owed upwards of $60,000.
“We have been informed by the management at Windsor at Westside and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department that we are temporarily not allowed to use the common areas at Westside,” read an email to guests on Monday evening [READ IN FULL BELOW]. “This is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved, and we are banding together in an effort to provide the necessary essentials to our guests through the remainder of the holiday.”
YWN spoke with Sruly Wulliger, who was hired as the Chazzan and entertainment for the program. Wulliger says that contrary to the rumors on social media, there has never been any food not being delivered.
“In fact it has been nothing short of a Kiddush Hashem”, Wulliger said.
“Yes, there is no usage of the common areas such as the Shul, and yes the kitchen is closed, and yes there are no Chol Hamoed BBQ’s, but two employees – Dennis and Brian – stayed behind (despite the owner reportedly disappearing) and are doing everything they can to accommodate everyone as best they can. Many people are getting raw meats and are cooking themselves. Social media is simply lit with fake news regarding this program”, Williger said.
“Despite the rumors online, no one has been evicted from their villas”, Wulliger added.
Times of Israel reports Brian [Goldberg] and Dennis [Ratzker] have paid more than $15,000 from their own pockets to cover costs.
Meanwhile, another company called “A Perfect Pesach Program”, hosted by The Kosher Guru and owned by the Heller and Silverstein families in nearby Story Lake, says they were inundated by hundreds of messages, phone calls and emails. This program has food by Main Event / Mauzone Caterers and the Chol Hamoed BBQ’s are catered by Fuego, a premiere Kosher restaurant in North Miami Beach.
“People were literally crying on the phone to us, begging us for food,” Kosher Guru told YWN.
“We have been helping as many people as possible, and are doing our best”.
Our readers should understand that this is not a large Frum community like Brooklyn, Lakewood etc. The local supermarket can not accommodate the thousands of people who travel from out-of-town, making it unrealistic to just pick up food and cook. There are no Kosher establishments in the area.
Multiple sources have contacted YWN with claims that they are seeking to file lawsuits, claiming that this is not the first time the owner has been involved in a fiasco like this.
(Nat Golden – YWN)
How many times do we read about these kinds of fiascos, express our sympathy to those affected but at the same time ask why go to Disneyworld when you can spend yom tov in Uman…..this time of year, its never really crowded at the normal rosh hashanah Na Na Nachaman crowds are home celebrating the sedorim with their families. Come to think of it, be like the Brelov, and Stay HOME too for the sedorim and then you can post funny comments in September when the Breslov head off to Uman.
This is NOT the first time!! Last year in Mexico the same or similar story happened!!
MESSAGE TO BE LEARNT!!!
PESACH IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME OWN KASHRUS IS BEST!! AND MOST RELIABLE!!
Why would people deal with a company who has done this shtick once before?
A lawyer friend of mine built his career suing phony tour operators who get paid up front for all-inclusive vacations, and their purchasers find that almost nothing is included. I don’t know the details of this case, but fly-by-night vacation and tour operators are a persistent problem.
In case others are feeling as desperately worried for the people there as I was, I reached out to one of the guests mentioned in this article because I wanted to drive in food for the stranded guests, but B”H others already beat me to it. One person may have done something terrible, but so many others pulled together to help. Mi k’amcha Yisroel.
This reminds me of an elteh bachur who messed up his paying customers at the Tamarack Lodge (twice in the 90’s) and then again in the Sans Souci Hotel in Miami Beach. Some gullible fools, in order to save a few pennies, will keep going back to the same abusive programs.
Not sure why Sruly Williger seems to be downplaying things. This sounds nothing short of a horrible Pesach experience. It is not the first time these crazy stories happened, it’s probably more relaxing to just stay home where you know you have food, a bed and a shul!
Disappearing owner of company….hmmmm……sounds like similar Pesach scam last year when some young crook who pretends to be frum and hangs out in the five towns ran away with over 100k. He had a “company” that delivers people’s cars and luggage to Florida for Pesach. He never paid the drivers and no-one could contact him….drivers refused To deliver.
Nothing like conducting my own Seder at my own sweet home
Truly a “different Pesach” experience !!!
I agree with the add ! A HOME best place to be on Pesach! How can anyone trust the food they eating 🍽 !
I feel bad for them but I don’t. I think of all the people who needed Tomchei Shabbes or Masbia to make Pesach.
Look, the pesach getaways have been getting better and better as far as kashrus and programs are concerned. Many use this getaway to be able to have families together without all the difficult work. Some are simply unable to clean,cook etc.Mashgichim and Rabbonim are often paid well. Some vacationers are able to learn more. It has its advantages, is accepted within the Jewish community and therefore yes, if something goes wrong it doesn’t mean throw it all away and we should be concerned. Furthermore, bad PR and court cases can stop these problems from recurring
Yes, the owner of the program did a terrible thing and people were stranded.
I do not understand the negativity in the comments towards the guests. Pesach “programs’ may not be fot you, but others, particularly those who have wealthy grandparents who bring the entire family, often have valid reasons for looking to a provider to help with Pesach. For example, if grandparents ask the family to join them, there are many very valid reasons to go. Personally, i have never gone to a hotel or program, but I understand the appeal.
Let’s also look at the positive. One GANAV runs away, and their partners and staff put in their own time and money, not to mention sanity and yom tov’s to keep things going. AMAZING!
Pardes Program in California that was run out of BMG office in Lakewood canceled and did not return deposits. We’re talking 100’s of thousands of dollars.
how about spending pessach in yerushalyim/ Israel?
then when you sing “leshanah habah byerushalyim”- you actually mean it?
Pesach with Mickey is not what hashem had in mind. He is sending subtle messages but unfortunately people dont get it.
Korben Pesach you can only share with the people you know from before. You can’t go into your neighbor and get a piece.
rabbi dovid if it was run out of bmg office
how come no comment from the rosh yeshivas
reminds me of the other lakewood guy with the cony=tinental ticket scam many years ago where i lost money
today the guy is from the “chashuvim in the ir hateirah”
While the story is terrible I haven’t read one comment that is dan Lekaf zchus. it is possible that the location took advantage of the program director and changed prices or tacked on additional expenses he was unbudgeted for. The fact that he ran away may have been Because he couldn’t handle the failure and pressure. I personally spoke to the owner months ago and asked him to use the Shul because I was renting a unit with air bob and he was very nice about it (I offered to pay a fee for his efforts he said it’s possible and I should call back closer to pesach)There is more to the story and we should be dan lekaf zechus.
Look at the bright side. It is well known that, due to its complexity especially on Pesach, a large percentage (probably a majority) of these Pesach hotels serve treif/chometz despite being advertised as gebrochts-free Glatt Kosher l’Mehadrin.
At least these people were saved from tarfus and chometz.
As someone who stays home, I am unsure why people have to bash those who don’t. Let everyone make their own decisions based on their situations.
L’shana habaha B’wyoming with the Kushners. As YWN has reported for at least two years now, the Kushner mishpacha flies out to Wyoming to celebrate the sedorim with their Rebbe at Jackson Hole. Their plane, a Boeing 757 with capacity for up to 275 close friends only has 5 plus secret service team escorts so lots of room next year for some select yidden who want only the top of the line hashgacha and ruchniyus.
Wow Joseph, so much envy and jealousy from one person! You must live a sad life.
Besides, with the amount of mashgichum the hotels have nowadays, it’s probably a lot kosher than your kitchen.
Anyone see this beauty yet?
Ha we that cant afford it are so happy that you are suffering and were gonna justify it by saying “serves u right for not making pesach like we do” point is if Im not happy with my situation then, thank god right now your not either
Circle: Speak to almost any of the grunt kitchen workers in these Pesach hotels and they’ll relate one horror story after another for every year, where kitchen staff constantly messes up and they yet serve the food despite it, and the keilim, having being rendered unusable for Pesach.
I am amazed by your clarity of thought and your sharpness . Kudos to you for posting your mussar.
The joy and glee with which some speak about the pain of others is appalling.
It’s amazing how some just can’t fargin another yid.
That’s why there is Passover Listings https://www.passoverlistings.com where users post reviews of programs and there is also the Facebook Group Passover Program Reviews which several users post about programs they were on.