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Reviewed July 20, 2011

Believe all the positive reviews. Believe this is where you can jump start your life in every single aspect. It is up to you. Believe that the staff has more knowlege about nutition than almost any place else you will ever go. Believe that the rustic, charming, personalized setting and attention will fulfill your every want and need. Believe that you will lose weight. Believe that you will increase your overall health, vitality, stamina. Believe that you won't be hungry. Believe that you will find exercises tailored to you individual physical wants and needs. Believe that you will meet people who will become life long friends. Believe that you will leave with a personalized health plan. Believe that you will have fun. Believe that the beds are the most comfortable you will ever experience. Believe that the trainers are fun, entertaining, and knowledgeable. Believe that the spa services are out of this world and try all of them. Believe that your enzymes need this (when you are there you will understande). Believe that the negative reviews must be from people who have deep seated emotional problems and should be going to a clinic for an attitude adjustment not a retreat for health. Believe that even if you don't believe, when you leave you WILL BELIEVE.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank zippity143
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 7, 2011

It took me a while to give this review, but time has only made me appreciate the Birchcreek more. I went in with weightloss as my only goal. And sure enough 23 lbs in 28days is a record weightloss for me. I've managed to keep those 23 lbs off and lose a few more. But I have a lot more to lose so that's an on-going process.
More importantly, I used to have pains all over my body when I awaken in the morning and just from sitting for a while. Since my month at the Birchcreek those pains have gone and have not returned. What a nifty side-effect from the detox.
I have made some adjustments to my eating as per the training seminars and that must be contributing to my increased energy as well. My daily energy is no longer fueled by caffeine but by better nutrition, so I'm no longer crashing at 2pm.
My husband and I are more active and he's eating better too. My girlfriends say, I look 10 years younger. But the ultimate is when associates approach me in disbelief that it really is me. They say, you look different but what they really mean is you look better.
Thanks Ron and Julie and the Birchcreek team. I could not have done it without you.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank shelley0314
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2011

You could do a juice fast on your own in the comfort of your own home, lose weight, and save yourself $2000.

I’m a 31 year old female. I did the Bootcamp program for 5 nights in early June. I arrived on Sunday evening and left on Friday early afternoon. I’m pretty athletic and fit, play sports and have worked with trainers before. I had been under a lot of family and work stress for several months and felt deconditioned, so I wanted to come to Birchcreek to juicefast, do the bootcamp program, and relax/recharge.

I researched other similar programs before choosing Birchcreek. I picked Birchcreek because I live on the east coast, so the cost of getting there was cheaper than flying somewhere out west. Also, their prices were significantly lesser than other similar programs(but now I know why!). In retrospect, I should have paid more to go to a nicer resort out west.

This is going to be a pretty extensive review. I hope you find it useful.

Our daily schedule went like this:

9-10:30- green power drink followed by hike
10:30-11 – breakfast juice break
11-12 – strength or cardio workout
12 – 12:30 – break for chia powder shake
12:30-1:30 - strength or cardio workout (whatever we didn’t do in the previous hour)
1:30 – lunch juice + break

During my stay, Jeff was the trainer Monday-Thursday and Kathy was there on Friday. Jeff’s cardio workouts consisted of kickboxing every day (see the “people” and “workouts” sections below for more info). I was disappointed that there was no yoga or pilates while I was there, but other participants asked Kathy to do those classes on Friday (after I left). There were personal yoga classes which you could purchase, but who wants to spend more when you’re already paying so much and getting so little?

Usually nothing was scheduled after lunch and if you requested any spa treatments, you would have them in the afternoon. On Monday, we had a beginners zumba class following lunch, and on Wednesday they asked us if we wanted to do a water aerobics class in the pool, so some of us took them up on those. During the week, I had 2 deep tissue massages with Barbara and a facial with Suzanne.

Accomodations:
(I stayed in the only room on the first floor, which is the biggest room in the house)

o King size bed, but really uncomfortable and lousy pillows
o I killed at least 2 spiders and 2 flying bugs a day in my room
o 2 out of my 5 nights, I had no hot water at night to brush my teeth
o Water backed up in the bathroom sink from day 1, but would slowly drain. On my 5th night, it clogged up completely and wouldn’t drain.
o Really bad shower head in shower. The water didn’t stream out right, it seemed like it only came out of half of the holes. It really doesn’t cost that much to replace a shower head and it makes such a big difference! There are little things the owners could easily fix, but I think they just don’t care to.
o Toilet was up a weird ramp in the bathroom.
o There was a tiled platform (where the shower and bath tub were) that was a step up from the rest of the carpeted area in the bathroom. The tiles were chipped and cracked, and there were also pretty sizeable holes in wall near towel rods that weren’t filled. To me, this just shows laziness and lack of interest on the part of the owners because it only takes 30 seconds to putty holes in the wall.

The people:

Julie and Ron, the owners, do not know how to run a professional business. They seem like they are cheap and cut as many corners as they can. You will lose weight. Almost everyone does. I lost 5 pounds in my 5 nights there. I stuck to a diet of juicing mixed with fruit and raw veggies, but I gained 1.5 pounds back within a week of being home.

Everything is good and fine with Julie until you challenge her on something, and then she gives you a kinda BS response and/or attitude. She doesn’t really take initiative to help you out, but if you say you weren’t satisfied, she’ll say you should have requested that or spoken up earlier. Basically, she relies on you to take any/all initiative to get the most out of your stay.

Ron was occasionally seen doing yard work, but rarely present.

Initially Sophia appeared to have attitude, but she did grow on me after a while. People praised her for her cooking, and she seemed to be the only one to take pride in her work. She was the one who was most often present, and she always responded to requests quickly.

Julie’s daughter gave a juicing lesson, and was pretty unimpressive. See comments on the juicing demonstration below.

Jeff the trainer was equally unimpressive compared to previous trainers I’ve worked with. If you’ve ever been to a real gym, you probably don’t want to come to this place. You’ll be really disappointed.

Kathy taught the water aerobics class and is the trainer on Fridays and Sundays. She was probably the only one I was really impressed with. For starters, she was the only one of them all that seemed fit! She also made the Friday hike more challenging by adding in speed walking intervals.

The juice:

They say they buy as much organic and local as possible, but participants were all skeptical about this. During my stay, one participant told us they snuck into the kitchen when noone was around and saw large bags of carrots marked Mexico. Everyone was very disappointed about this. They could be organic from Mexico, but they were not local.

They post the names of the juices for the day on a chalk board in the dining room, but they don’t tell you exactly what’s in them unless you ask.

Everyone pretty much hated the tomato based juices.

During the juicing demonstration, the daughter used a dish sponge to wipe a bug off the counter (gross!! 1- that there was a bug crawling on the kitchen counter where they prepare our juice/food, and 2 - that’s probably the same dish sponge they use to clean the dishes we use).

Breakfast juices are made the night before and served in plastic bottles*. Some of us did research before coming, and know that it’s usually recommended to drink the juice immediately after preparation since the juice will lose it’s nutritional content over time. Sophia was questioned about this, and she said that that only applies to certain fruits and veggies, and that the fruits used in the breakfast juices made the night before still maintained their nutrition value (I wasn’t convinced by this). When the owner’s daughter was questioned about this during the juicing demonstration, she said that it depended on the juicer you used, and said that the juice made by their Champion juicer could be preserved for up to 3 days. This doesn’t make sense to me, most juicers use the same mechanism of extraction, so why would it depend on the juicer?

*I remember reading another review before I came where the owners commented back with an explanation/excuse and said that all juices were served in glasses. Glasses are available in the dining room if you want to pour your juice from the bottle to the glass for breakfast, but they definitely come in bottles for breakfast. I remember the chia powder shakes being served in paper cups sometimes too.

The workouts:

I had expected the hikes to be more like trail hikes and not on paved roads with cars whizzing by. When I mentioned this to Julie during my talk with her before I left, she said that the trails are rocky/slippery so they have to be dry to be safe. They take participants on once weekly trail hikes (Saturdays) when weather permits. I don’t buy it, and I think that was probably a BS answer she was giving me to encourage me to come back again. (she mentioned “if you come again” several times during our talk).

I was also told before I came that I would get 5 hours of workouts a day with bootcamp, but I was disappointed that most days I only got 3 1/2 (nothing was scheduled after 1:30pm) and the other 2 days we had one additional class (zumba one day and water aerobics the other day).

Other services:

During my stay, I got 2 deep tissue massages from Barbara who was great! These were great, and I really don’t have any complaints about them.

I was less impressed with Suzanne who I got a green tea/clay facial from. She massaged my neck and shoulders as part of the facial, but didn’t seem to have the same knowledge/skill/strength as Barbara.

I requested swimming lesson twice (once prior to arriving and once upon arrival). I was told in email before I came that it depended on the weather (which was supposed to be in the mid 70s to 80s all week I was there). When I got there, I was told that it had been chilly lately and the water was too cold at present. Me: “oh, it’s not a heated pool?” Julie: “It is, but we just haven’t bothered to heat it up. It doesn’t make sense to heat it up when it’s so cold” Julie said it depended on the weather, but noone ever followed up with me when temps were in the 90s later that week. Even after Ron’s grandchildren were seen and heard playing in the pool (totally unprofessional for a place were people pay to come for a relaxing retreat and/or are likely cranky from a detoxify juice fast!). Even after a water aerobics class was scheduled, still noone followed-up with me about my swimming lesson. FYI - this is a small oval pool, not a lap pool. I’m not disappointed that I didn’t have to pay for a $75 swimming lesson given that the pool was so small and it probably would not have been worth $75, but I still think that someone should’ve asked me if I still wanted it once the pool was in use.

Other Considerations:

Must like dogs – Sophia has a small dog, and Julie has a large dog. They let them run around the property. I am not a dog person. On Monday I had just gotten done with a deep tissue massage which was on the second floor treatment room, and I felt really relaxed. When I was heading back downstairs to my room, I was startled because both dogs were running through the “lobby” area. This was the first time I realized that there were dogs here, before then, noone had even mentioned anything about dogs. The small dog ran past me in the direction of the kitchen (hmm, do I want dogs in the kitchen where they prepare my food?). The big dog stopped and was looking at me. I tried to remain calm and walk slowly past it to my room, it passed me but then it stopped and turned back and started growling. Then it started barking. I got scared at this point, and I called out “Hello? Is anyone down here?” Noone responded “HELLO, can somebody help me with this dog??” The dog continues to bark and jump up on it’s hind legs. I call out again a little panicked “Excuse me, can I get some help!?” Still nothing. Then I turn and go back up the stairs, to see if anyone is on the second floor. Once I’m gone up the stairs, I hear someone whistle and call the dog over. Another guest heard me calling for help once I was upstairs and thankfully came running to my rescue. She came back downstairs with me and made sure the dog was gone and I got to my room ok. It’s a shame that the owners don’t have more common sense and that my relaxing massage was ruined with an immediate tense situation that followed. Later when Julie walked by and overheard us talking about the dogs, she said in a cold tone “that won’t happen again” and “some people are just scared of dogs” – a zing back at me. 1) she didn’t apologize 2) don’t make it my fault! and 3) I highly doubt that if I hadn’t told everyone and figured out it was her dog, she never would have said anything. They should let guests know that they have dogs and ask if anyone has any concerns OR if anyone is allergic. Oh, and I saw the dogs out again the following day when she was doing yard work in front of the house. They were not on leashes and the front and back doors were wide open.

Other people will not be juice fasting – If you think this is a good idea because you will be surrounded by other people doing the same thing as you, you should keep the following things in mind:
- Other people will be juice fasting, but won’t necessarily be on the same day as you, or have the same reactions to it or feel the same about it as you do.
- Some people will be eating normal meals while you are juicing
o Most participants who were there for more than a week started incorporating one raw meal a day (salad) into their schedule – so still juicing most of the time, but salad for either lunch or dinner. Some people also got cooked meals occasionally.
o One tall, skinny 21 year old kid was actually trying to gain weight during his stay. He would routinely ask for toast or a banana with his juices. And he would get large meals for lunch and/or dinner. I found out later in my stay that his stay was pretty much a joke. He just wanted to be there to be with his brother, who was a guest there. Way to put a damper on the experience for everyone else juice fasting and trying to lose weight! Why would the owners be ok with this?
o Initially, some participants were so turned off by this that they would take their juices to their room or outside by the pool to avoid being around the other guests salads in the dining room.

Overall:

I wouldn’t go back to this place or recommend it to anyone I know. I would say only go if you want to juice fast and you don’t have the discipline to do it yourself. You can get a decent juicer for about $150 and they usually come with a recipe book. Or you could easily look up recipes and information on juice fasting online. Also, only go if you like dogs, are ok with spiders and bugs constantly being around, and are ok with less than ideal living conditions (particularly the bathrooms) and a really outdated gym (think 1970s turquoise equipment).

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
16  Thank EastCoaster2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
birchcreek, Owner at Jump Start New York, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2011

Dear Reviewer,
I’m glad that you recognized that we are especially convenient to east coasters – although we do have a significant west coast clientele who feel that flying in to New York to visit Birchcreek is well worth the long trip. You CAN juice fast in the comfort of your home, and when you leave Birchcreek we provide all of the information and tools to help you get started juicing and eating right to keep your success going. However, many of our guests prefer to let us do the work while they relax and recharge around the pool, in front of one of the fireplaces or snuggled up in their cozy private room.

To respond to your review:

Schedule: The schedule you posted represented our boot camp program (not our regular Jump start program) and we offer additional classes in the afternoon (no charge, of course) almost every other day. Most of our bootcampers are ready for a long break in the late afternoons after their rigorous daily workout.

Accommodations: If there are any problems with your room, it is our hope that our guests feel comfortable enough to mention them to a staff member while they are here so that the issue can be resolved quickly. Your sink issue was a 1 minute fix to the drain stopper in the sink (nothing was clogged) that was done immediately when brought to my attention by the housekeeper . For the record, we never turn off the hot water at Birchcreek. Hot water is available 24 hours a day. The first person to use hot water each morning usually waits a few minutes ( as described in your check-in info).

We are proud of our pure mountain spring water flowing through the retreats 23 acre estate. Like all of the water in the Catskill Mountains (that feeds all of NYC, by the way!), it is hard water. As such, we are well prepared to replace shower heads regularly, and do so, as soon as water flow in a shower is restricted.

Your weight loss was excellent for the time you were here and you’re right – all of our guests do lose weight in a super healthy way.

Bootcamp is different than our other programs in that it is all about the workouts. When other guests are attending educational nutrition lectures, workshops and behavior modification classes, bootcampers are exercising. So, it is not surprising that you did not see much of Ron – he doesn’t do any of the bootcamp classes.
I’m glad you appreciated Sophia – she is a tremendous asset to Birchcreek and we and our guests love her. I’m sorry you were not happy with your juicing demo – as you know, juicing workshops are not a part of the bootcamp schedule. Our kitchen employee stopped working to give you an impromptu look at the juicer we use because you expressed an interest. It certainly was not a juicing class or formal demo - just an employee responding to a guest request. And, for the record, all glasses, dishware and utensils are run through a high heat dishwasher.

Trainers: Our trainers are all experienced, certified in more than one discipline and extremely well received by our guests. A recent comment about Jeff was “…I owe all of my fitness success at Birchcreek to Jeff. He is far and above any trainer I have ever worked with…”. This is a fairly common reaction to our staff members.

For the record, no ‘sneaking ‘ into the kitchens is necessary! The staff is juicing there daily and anyone can stop in – and they do! Naturally, our produce cannot be all local – the growing season is very short here in upstate NY. We would have no produce at all in the winter! Sweet, delicious (and expensive) juicing carrots, in particular, do not grow here, but in warmer climates like southern California and Mexico. All of this information is discussed, by the way, in our popular ‘Juicing Rocks’ workshop.

Juicers: All juicers are NOT alike! The methods of extraction vary widely and quality of juice is a direct result of the choice of juicer. I would suggest a bit more research in that area. Although Champion juicers produce juice of a very high quality which maintain freshness better than most , all juices are made fresh daily, on site, at all Birchcreek Retreats. At some of our locations, the kitchen staff works right in the hospitality room in full view of guests all day long. No need to sneak, just ask to come in and see!

As posted before, food grade, safe, approved plastic bottles are used only in 2 situations: when guests are not all coming into the dining room at the same time, for example at breakfast so that your juice is available immediately as you come in from your walk. The other situation is when we take juices on a hike or outing to be consumed off site.

Hikes: It is unfortunate that we experienced a very rainy spring and early summer this year. We will never take our guests on a trail hike in the very rocky Catskill Mountains unless conditions are safe. We have been enjoying trail hikes – namely Giant Ledge, Belleayre Mountain and the Mount Tremper Fire Tower hike – regularly now as the weather has been cooperating. It is the highlight of the week for most of our guests.

Pool: Heating a pool in the mountains is very weather dependent. Our pool heater has been on regularly since early June. However, many nights in early summer the temperature drops down into the high 40’s low 50’s overnight. Even with a solar cover, the pool will never be warm enough for most people the next day.

Dogs: Birchcreek is a pet friendly retreat for those who are reluctant to travel without their treasured pets. We do, however, expect a very high level of consideration for our other guests. I can only apologize that you were frightened by a dog during your stay. The two staff owned dogs are harmless pets that I’m sure can be frightening to someone unaccustomed to being around dogs. They are not running free and are not unattended. They stay in the staff office (a separate building). They are moved into a small room off the kitchen in the retreat when housekeeping is cleaning the office. In your case, I was very angry that the dogs were ever in a position to frighten you – hence my comment that it would not happen again. I am well aware that some people are afraid of dogs, as I mentioned to you at the time. The person responsible for the breach was reprimanded and I am confident that the situation will not occur, even accidentally as this was, again.

Other guests: The average length of stay for most of our guests is two to three weeks, although many stay as long as the whole summer and still others take advantage of our ‘Weekend Warrior’ package. Juicing guests are anxious to either experience the transition into eating or to learn how to analyze, prepare and cook healthy meals for when they get home. I can honestly say that no one has ever seen this process as a cause for complaint before. Even our juicing only guests have been able to glean valuable tips about eating better to stay thin and fit by seeing what some of the longer term people are eating.
For the record: In the past, we have provided separate tables and even separate rooms for eating and juicing guests and found that sharing mealtime together has been the overwhelming preference. Happily, we provide a lovely large deck area with tables, overlooking the stream and woods where guests preferring some alone time can enjoy their meals, if desired.

Thin guests: You have stated that a ‘skinny 21 year old’ young man at Birchcreek during your stay was offensive to you and you were surprised we accommodated him.
I must disagree wholeheartedly with you. Contrary to your statement that his visit was a joke, he was actually an intelligent, educated and thoughtful young man who was intensely interested in learning how to eat properly so he could actually be healthy as well as thin. How wonderful that young people are finally recognizing that the standard American diet is not the route to long life and health. We celebrate that here! He was not at Birchcreek to gain weight at all, but to maintain his current weight while building some lean muscle with our boot camp program while detoxing his system. He and his brother were both very successful and will be returning as intern staff next year. (Also, they were guests here for 3 weeks – a lot of time and money to invest in a joke!)

We host all shapes and sizes at Birchcreek Retreats. Whether you have 200 pounds or 10 pounds to lose, detoxing, getting fit and eating properly is the only way to go. Our high referral rate and repeat clients attest to our guest’s satisfaction and success.

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Reviewed May 13, 2011

We cannot say enough good things about Birch Creek. My mom and I went for Mother's Day, expecting a weekend of peace, relaxation, and health. We got that and so much more! First, the setting was incredible, wonderfully serene and peaceful. The house is charming and beautifully restored, and immediately felt like a home away from home. Our room was spacious and comfortable, better than we expected. From the moment we arrived, the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We took advantage of all the facilities, and enjoyed all of the activities that were available. The daily morning walk was a great way to start the day. We both enjoyed the juice fast more than I would have ever guessed - the drinks were delicious! The weight loss was better than expected too, and we learned so much about the human body and how food really nourishes it. Ron, Julie and Sophia taught us so much and were great company throughout our stay. Since leaving, we have continued to live the 'perfect Birchcreek day', and I have never felt better in my entire life! I have more energy, I sleep better, some chronic digestive ailments have improved vastly, and I feel more upbeat and positive about life. My mom has experienced similar positive changes. I never would have guessed that I could make these healthy changes so effortlessly, and it's all thanks to this program. I would recommend Birchcreek to anyone interested in getting a jump start on a new life, and who wants to learn a better way to lifelong health.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled with family
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Thank TravelinFool80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2011

I have just started implementing the diet changes that I learned about through Birchcreek Weight Loss and Health Retreat, but already I am seeing positive results. I did not need to lose weight, but through the encouragement of my sweetheart, I came to Birchcreek to see if diet could alleviate my overstressed system. The funny thing about nervous sytem issues is that they are, in some ways, intangible. The results I have seen so far are very encouraging. The results are a surprise in the sense that there is the absence of agitation which feels different than the absence of pain. The symptoms are so few that I could say they are gone. I just need to stay with the Birchcreek diet principles and see the positive results continue over time. So I will give it another month or two, then I can say "Here's your testiimonial!"

For a more extensive review by my sweetheart, see "angel 418" response.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Nico418
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
birchcreekretreat, Owner at Jump Start New York, responded to this reviewResponded April 21, 2011

I am so glad to hear that you are experiencing great results already! I'm anticipating your feeling even better as time goes on with the Birchcreek Clean Regime meal program.
I recognize this guest as one of the few of our clients who actually did not want to lose any weight at all, but had health issues to deal with. The wonderful thing about our retreat is we can give you a Jump Start with not only amazing weight loss results, but you will greatly improve overall health - recharged, renewed and energized.
Looking forward to hearing from you again!

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