How to develop a kosher hotel

When Sharon Sharaby, developer and owner of Boca Raton real estate firm BSD Capital, moved to Hollywood, Florida about 40 years ago, an Orthodox Jewish community was thriving, largely clustering around the synagogue. Young Israel. Today, Sharaby suspects, there are as many Orthodox Jews in Hollywood as there are in Miami Beach.

Sharaby had this in mind when she envisioned a new Wyndham hotel in the western part of town – on US 441, directly across from the Seminole Hard Rock Resort & Casino – and decided to turn it into a hotel. kosher, with development and offers. in accordance with Jewish law.

In a tumultuous time for hospitality development, creating a niche hotel doesn’t limit its scope, Sharaby said. It does the opposite.

“We did our market analysis and realized that we were at 88% hotel occupancy in that particular area,” Sharaby said. “It actually gave us an additional 6% occupancy. “

Courtesy of the Wyndham Dolce Kosher House Hotel

Wyndham Kosher House Hotel

There are similar concerns regarding the use of electronic keys to enter hotel rooms. Sharaby said his Wyndham Dolce Kosher House hotel – under construction with an opening date slated for next October – will have Bluetooth inputs on its 100 rooms, but residents can request a standard physical key to replace the electronic key. And the food on site will be kosher.

“Anyone who is not Jewish can obviously enjoy the kosher flavor, which is no different from a non-kosher restaurant, in addition to where we buy our meat and produce,” Sharaby said.

His hotel will also have a synagogue hall dedicated to prayers.

“It will dramatically improve the hotel experience when a person with orthodox requirements can just have breakfast in bed and be fully kosher, and go down to a cafe and have it fully kosher,” Joseph said. Landsberg, director of capital advice for Franklin Street. , who helped organize funding for the hotel. “They can invite their whole family to dinner at the hotel and stay [at] the hotel and it’s a completely different experience. It really adds a few more stars to the experience that the Orthodox community will have. “

Casey Crane of Franklin Street, a chartered financial analyst on the company’s capital advisory team, also helped organize the $ 10.2 million loan for the property at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as there was a cautious lending environment for hospitality projects.

When considering financing for properties that cater to niche markets, it’s important that they don’t exclude potential clients, he said.

“This is something anyone in a hospitality business should keep in mind when looking to serve a specific community,” Crane said. “You cannot do it at the expense of the community at large. Especially in this market in which we are.

Sharaby’s project was attractive, Crane said, because it would be Florida’s first Wyndham Dolce and one of the only fully kosher luxury hotels in the world. Its location near the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Resort, which includes a casino and hosts conventions, makes it well positioned to attract guests.

The city of Hollywood has approved three more casinos on 441, according to Sharaby, who expects the area to experience a boom in the years to come. Its other projects include a 5-star Wyndham Grand one block away, as well as two nearby mixed-use projects with residences and retail, and a free streetcar service that will take passengers to casinos, hotels and resorts. stores.

Is gambling acceptable in the Orthodox community?

“Totally cool,” Sharaby said. “In the Jewish religion, if you play, you cannot be a witness; it’s like the only thing. But God allows us to do anything. That’s why he put him on earth.

Reserved area

Kosher food and Shabbat elevators are part of the allure of a kosher hotel.

Travel can be difficult for Orthodox Jews. To comply with religious requirements, they must eat in kosher establishments, or prepare kosher meals, and be within walking distance of certain places of worship.

Continental breakfasts at traditional hotels are like landmines: “Pre-cut fruits or vegetables should be avoided, as they may have been cut with a knife that was used for non-kosher foods. Cooked eggs, even in their shell (hard / medium / soft), are prohibited ”, according to Jewish travel website.

Some niche travel sites, like Kosher Without Borders, direct readers to places where they can find suitable hotels, synagogues, restaurants and shopping centers grouped together. But having all of their needs met under the roof of one hotel could make travel easier.

The idea of ​​a kosher hotel is popular in Israel, which has formal guidelines for hotels to be kosher certified. There are 168 rules, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. For example, figs cannot be served because they are prone to insects and could cause someone to break a rule against eating insects; cabbages should be examined in good lighting conditions; and a full time inspector must be on staff to enforce all rules.

In the United States, the concept of a kosher hotel is still gaining ground, with much more flexible hotel guidelines. Sharaby said a typical hotel only needs a few tweaks to qualify as kosher: a special elevator, a kosher food and drink program, and traditional analog room keys.

Kosher hotels are rare but can be found in places like New York City, Los Angeles, and the Catskills. In Bay Harbor, near Miami, the 96-room Altair hotel in October open as a kosher establishment, with kosher food served throughout the property.

During Shabbat, the Sabbath – a day of rest that lasts from sunset on Friday until three stars are visible on Saturday evening – Orthodox Jews are not supposed to work or use electrical items. They generally don’t drive, make calls, use lights, or fire. This includes pressing the buttons on an elevator. Orthodox families could carry their belongings up the stairs instead.

To comply with the requirements, in the early 2000s, Shabbat elevators became popular. They could be programmed to stop automatically at each floor so cyclists don’t have to press buttons.


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