Everything's kosher at the Castillo del Mar

MIAMI BEACH -- TravelPax, a local tour operator, partnered with the Castillo del Mar Resort here to package vacations for travelers requiring kosher food. The hotel will be transformed into a fully kosher operation on June 1, when the first arrivals buying the new line of kosher packages are to arrive.

The beachfront property operates as a condo hotel.

At least 222 rooms are in the rental pool, Michael Marzano, director of sales, said, adding that the property can handle conventions requiring up to 200 rooms. Only one convention at a time is accepted, he said. A theater is available for groups.

Until June 1, the hotel will operate as a partially kosher hotel (with the main kitchen for the Europa Grill complying with meat-only requirements).

A dairy kitchen for the Sandcastle dining room will be added when the current round of renovations is completed by June 1, according to Marzano.

The renovations include repainting rooms and adding new bedspreads and drapes as well as irons and ironing boards, hair dryers and in-room safes.

This will be the only beachfront resort in South Florida operating a full Glatt Kosher program 365 days a year, Marzano said, thereby giving it exclusivity in a niche market, he said.

The kosher operations are authenticated by OK Laboratories.

The food preparation is overseen by Michael Rapp.

TravelPax principals include Hal Peschansky, formerly director of cruise sales for ByeByeNow.com, and Robert Plavnick, formerly a land package specialist for ByeByeNow.com. (ByeByeNow.com, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based travel Web site and bricks-and-mortar operation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last January.)

Until recently, TravelPax had been been a Sunrise, Fla.-based receptive operator for French and other foreign arrivals. It has since relocated to the Castillo del Mar.

Its kosher tour offerings are fully commissionable, with optional American bulk air (now being arranged), transfers or car rentals, Peschansky said, in addition to room and meals.

The hotel's nightly value season American Plan rates, booked through TravelPax or with the property, are from $158 per person, double, for a bayview room and from $170 for an oceanview.

Over the Jewish High Holidays, Sept. 13 to 30, a seven- night minimum stay ranges from $1,260 per person, double, land. For oceanfront, the cost is $1,344.

For the regular New Year's period, Dec. 27 to Jan. 3, seven-night stays cost the same.

For Passover, March 26 to April 5, there is a 10-night minimum, priced from $1,800 per person, double, for a bayview and from $1,920 for an oceanfront room. Rates include seders (traditional Passover meals).

The daily charge for an extra child (ages 13 and older) or adult sharing the same room is $95 each. The charge for children ages 2 to 12 is $65.

For more information, call the operator, (888) 654-0117; Web, www.travelpax.net, or the hotel, (888) 35-BEACH; Web, www.castillodelmar.com.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI