Trips being planned to India, Norway and Greece, thousands from Brooklyn’s Syrian community are in Aruba now
By Adam Pincus
It’s cold and rainy in New York City today. Clear your mind and take a look at vacation destinations industry professionals are planning to visit later this year, along with some pictures from their recent trips.
And as for travel partners consider this — Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community is vacationing this week as a large group in Aruba. That’s right, not just family, or friends, but thousands of people from the wider Flatbush neighborhood are together on the Caribbean island.
Taking time to travel is not just fun, enlightening or good for bonding. To relax and recover from the stress of work is valuable for workers, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2018 Work and Well-Being Survey. Report participants said vacations improved their productivity and work product. Furthermore, the U.S. travel industry’s trade group designated this coming Tuesday, January 29, as its official National Plan for Vacation Day.
I mean, if a trade group has spent the time to designate a special day in the year to plan a trip, how can you resist.
India — On the “bucket list”
“I have been trying to schedule a purely pleasure trip, without any provocation of doing business while on travel,” said Robin Abrams, a broker with Compass.
She is planning a trip for mid-March to the country’s “Golden Triangle,” including Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and also expects to visit the revered city Varanasi, located on the banks of the Ganges River. She will be traveling with her husband and their grown daughter.
Abrams typically travels with her husband or friends and maybe one of her two adult children if possible. Two years ago, she traveled to Norway, Sweden and Denmark with her husband and friends including Compass agent Rebecca Olshan, but on that trip, they did some canvassing and held business meetings.
India is by no means the farthest Abrams has traveled. She’s been all over the globe including China, Japan, Indonesia as well as Italy, Spain, Portugal and many other European countries.
As for future trips, she’s got her eye on Dubai to see the retail, Cuba, a safari in Africa, and other destinations.
One vivid memory from a trip to Florence decades ago illustrates the value of the ask. She was with her two children, husband and some friends when they arrived at the Accademia Gallery to see Michaelangelo’s famous sculpture David. The gallery was closed.
“But my daughter, then about five years old, convinced the guard to take her and her older brother on a private tour to see the sculpture, while the adults were told to wait outside. My kids will never forget that,” she said.
Norway — Because Iceland is “played out”
“I feel like Iceland is played out. Iceland is the new Las Vegas. We are looking to do something different, where we have not seen a million Instagram photos,” Ryan Condren, an agent with CPEX Real Estate, said.
He is planning a trip with his girlfriend to the Scandinavian country to see the fjords, the cities and the famed natural beauty. This will be a tamer trip compared with his recent ski adventures.
The native Brooklynite said he has been skiing since he was two. He has the chops and desire to go heli-skiing, in which a helicopter drops the skier on remote mountain tops, instead of relying on lifts.
He heli-skied in Whistler in British Columbia in February 2017, and more recently in August he skied the Cerro Catedral Bariloche in Argentina’s Patagonia region.
He too is a voracious traveler, starting from when he was as a child. He’d go on family trips around the United States led by his parents who ran a travel agency during the 1980s and 1990s.
Greece — Far from Disney World
“Now that the kids are going to camp and we don’t have to schlep them with us we might as well enjoy ourselves,” said James Famularo, a broker at Meridian Retail Leasing who is planning a trip in August to Greece or the South of France.
“When the kids were younger we just vacationed in one place — Disney. I stood in those lines too many times.”
Famularo recently traveled with his wife to Greece and they loved it, he said. If they return he wants to see more of the 6,000 islands.
“I’d like to get a little boat and bounce around to the different islands,” he said.
As for timing, he follows the pattern of the slow seasons for the business, which is why he takes the big trips in August.
“To go away any other time is a waste because you can’t enjoy yourself. The phone is going off, the emails are still flooding the inbox,” Famularo said.
Aruba — Thousands from Flatbush
Thousands of members of Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community have landed on the Caribbean island of Aruba in recent days, where they will stay for a week or more of relaxation and socializing during elementary, middle- and high-schools’ winter break.
The community famed for its cohesion has been taking this trip since the 1990s, according to one person who is there now, who asked not to be identified.
The trip is mostly for the benefit of children.
“I don’t see them for 10 days, from the time they run off with their friends,” this attendee, a New York City real estate investor, said.
Even as many American families can barely manage to coordinate a dinner together, thousands of parents and children within the approximately 100,000-person Syrian community of Brooklyn fly to a remote island to spend a week or more as a group. And while the temporary transplant will hardly register in the massive New York City economy, there is an impact of some kind as calls get re-routed to the beach or returned later in the day.
The travelers make the trip as the grade schools known as yeshivas have their winter session, known as the intercession. For example, the intercession at the influential Yeshivah of Flatbush started last Thursday and runs through this Sunday. Most vacationers stay at one of two Marriott hotels on the island, insiders said, where some own timeshares.
The huge trips have not been without their critics. Reviews on TripAdvisor from several years ago warn hotel guests to prepare for this annual week or avoid it all together. However, more recent reviews note that the hotel put in place protocols to manage the influx of New Yorkers.
The Syrians, known as the SYs, are influential players in the New York City real estate industry. Some, such as Jeff Sutton, are billionaires, while many other families own stakes in portfolios valued in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, such as the Cayres, Sitts and others.
PincusCo Media communicated with a half-dozen sources, and all declined to speak on the record about this trip.
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