Theres a Small Hotel ... In Israel?
by Linda-Marie Singer
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|Tel Aviv, Israel: WHEN RODGERS and HART WROTE
Theres A Small Hotel, the chances are they werent talking about Israel. Leave it to a travel writer to bring
up this subject, because, like many of you, I often prefer the out of way but still
luxurious places to stay. Comfort is never an issue to be
compromised. Nor is safety.
For first timers to the Middle East who believe Third World
is synonymous with Israel, brace yourself. The country has become a mini USA with a Hebrew
accent. Youll see more people wearing Levis, while cell phones keep ringing on every
This means that the advanced system of communications spills over to the
business traveler. No trouble connecting to AOL GlobalNet, and since the hours are
reversed, there will be no trouble with those frustrating busy signals. All this is a far
cry from other Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan where hooking up depends on viable
outlets. Surprise? There arent any. Try your luck in Egypt, and youll find the technology
And yet with all the modern day conveniences that Israel has to offer, the Land of Milk
and Honey is fast becoming the Land of Milk and Money. Walk along any fashionable street
in Tel Aviv, and youll find
boutiques chock full of designer labels. Its little wonder that the suburban malls
are looking more like middle America instead of middle Israel.
With so much westernization, expect to find an abundance of Holiday Inns, Sheratons and
Hiltons, all good chains, but hardly Israeli unless you count the signs posted in Hebrew.
Comfort, Whimsey and Congeniality in Jerusalem
However, if you are only comfortable in familiar places and find yourself in Jerusalem, the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza Hotel is located
in the heart of town, a short walk from the Old City, and a few blocks from the main
shopping and business district. With 300 comfortable rooms, it may not be your idea of
intimacy, but the ambiance is friendly, plus youll find two of the best restaurants there: The whimsical Cow on the Roof and
Moriah Plaza Hotel Jerusalem doesnt have cows on the roof, but does
have the congenial general manager, Hayim Haviv. We hadnt been
together five minutes, when he invited me to view the Presidential Suite and see the view
from the private terrace. Although you wont find it in any guidebook, the panorama
rivals any sweeping vista of the City of Gold. Perhaps, though, its had time to
flourish, as the hotel began in 1936 as a private villa with only 20 rooms. Today there
are 292 guest quarters.
Theres nothing similar to what we have, Haviv relates. Credit the
mid-1960s when tourism to Israel caught on, in part due to the popularity of Leon
Uris Exodus and movie starring Paul Newman. Suddenly everyone
wanted to discover the Holy Land.
We find that people want to experience the real Israel, Haviv explains,
and thats what we offer. You know, the King David is the most famous hotel
here, but its not the best.
Where to Stay in Tel Aviv, a City that Never
If youre still after that authentic taste of Israel and you happen to be in Tel
Aviv, I would head for the Dan Hotel
and the Radisson Moriah Plaza Hotel. The Dan is
well suited for business travelers. The rooms are ample but not luxurious; however,
its the amenities that make it worthwhile. The Israeli breakfast is plentiful and
the service excellent. The biggest treat, however, is not the felafel but a man called Shlomi
who runs the beauty salon. Easily one of the most talented hairdressers in
Israel, he doesnt speak much English but studies each customer and then goes to
work. Youll be surprised to pay $50 in such a small country, but if Shlomi were in a
chic Fifth Avenue establishment or connected to Rodeo Drive, youd be paying him
Up the street from the Dan is my favorite hotel, the Moriah Plaza Tel Aviv.
Radisson has now taken over all the Moriahs that stretch from the northern Tiberias to the
southern Eilat. The change is bound to make the Moriahs more plush and even more
Already cozy and definitively Israeli, the Radisson Moriah Plaza Hotel Tel Aviv
parallels the Mediterranean. Theres nothing more peaceful than awakening to
people jogging along the beach, and watching swimmers darting in and out of the waves. But
the best thing about this venue is its 17th floor accessibility to all hotel guests. The Executive
Lounge features enough appetizers to fill you up for the entire day, and services
include confirmation of airline tickets, international newspapers, and the feeling somehow
that this is your own personal dining area. The rooms are expansive and well appointed,
while the lobby is just right for entertaining or relaxing. Once again, youll find
the abundantly good Israeli breakfast with a myriad of cheeses and yogurts, fresh omelets
and salads. Stay a day or two, and youll find it hard to believe youre in Tel
Aviv, the city that never sleeps.
Feeling Like a Princess at the Eilat Princess Hotel
A city that sleeps well is Eilat on the Red Sea. From the
time Solomon and Sheba held their legendary assignation, Eilat has been a special getaway.
The sun smiles all year long there, making it a haven for Europeans in search of a healthy
glow who dont want to spend their life savings. Eilat offers the Coral Beach
Nature Reserve, glass bottom boat excursions, submarine tours. The Coral
World Underwater Observatory also features special environments for viewing the
rich life of the sea.
Visitors to Eilat prefer dipping themselves in water, and here they have a choice of
parasailing, windsurfing, diving safaris, sailing, water-skiing, and of course swimming. I
found the place to stay was at the Eilat Princess.
Every guest is made to feel like royalty, and the exquisite, decorative lobby will leave
you breathless (click on picture for enlarged view). All this, plus the food is
among the best hotel fare in the country. Whats more, Eilat borders Taba, Egypt, so within minutes you can
and be in another country! You can also go through the Gulf of Aqaba and tour the ancient
city of Petra in Jordan.
Living Well by the Dead Sea
But if its pure relaxation youre after, dont miss the Dead Sea. At
the Hyatt Regency Dead Sea Resort
& Spa, youll find peace, tranquillity...and the Mineralia Spa Club -
rejuvenation for mind, body and soul. The spa is the largest and most lavish in the Middle
East, and pampers and soothes the body and spirit with a complete range of health and
beauty techniques, utilizing the world famous Dead Sea natural minerals and mud. For
instance, the Cellulite/Slimming manipulation, Jet Lag Massage, Seaweed-Mud Body
Treatments are all moderately priced and leave you tingling with good health.
The Hyatt Regency Dead Sea Resort spans 12 acres, and contains 600
rooms -- the largest hotel in Israel. Dont forget to drop the kids off at Camp
Hyatt, while you take off on a desert safari, mountain snappling or archeological
For thousands of years, long before the era of publicists, the Dead Sea had
been famous for its healthy cures. King Herod rejuvenated himself in the mineral water,
while the Queen of Sheeba used the Dead Sea salts for therapeutic bathing. The only thing
they didnt have was . . . a small hotel.