Despite the fact that Israel has a perceived “image problem” in the world of global opinion, a growing number of Israeli hotel tourism executives have discovered that luring American Jewish and Christian tourists to the Holy Land has more to do with content and deals than politics.
Recently released statistics from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism show a distinct upward spike in the number of foreign tourists flocking to the Jewish state in 2010. In Europe, where Israel is hammered on a daily basis in the local media, the number of low-cost carriers flying into Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport has actually doubled during the past year.
“Yes, American Jewish tourists are finally coming back to Israel in significant numbers, but people are more price conscious than they used to be, which is not surprising after what happened to the economy in America last year,” said Bruno de Schuyter, general manager of the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem. “The Internet has also changed booking patterns, as consumers will tend to check 10 different hotels for pricing and deals before they finally book a reservation.”
Rafi Beeri, the vice president of marketing and sales for Dan Hotels Israel, one of the country’s largest hotel chains, says that offering promotional plans that rely exclusively on local (Israeli) tourism alone is not a blueprint for success.
“At the current time, the ratio of Israeli tourists versus foreign tourists at most hotels is 50/50,” Beeri said. “Within the Dan Hotel chain, the ratio ... is 65 percent foreign versus 35 percent domestic [Israeli].
In addition, 40 percent of our overall foreign tourism business comes from North America, where we invest a substantial amount of time, money and effort to lure Jewish and non-Jewish tourists. Israeli hotel managers realize that it’s no longer good business to rely on Israeli tourists who will fill your hotel on weekends but [let it] remain almost empty during the middle of the week.”
Both de Schuyter and Beeri put a premium on recognizing emerging trends in the American consumer and hotel marketplaces that can be translated for their own hotels.
“On one of my most recent trips to Los Angeles, I visited a local upscale hotel in Beverly Hills, where I saw a variety of concepts that I found fascinating and adapted the model for the Inbal,” de Schuyter said. “One of the concepts that I had adapted for the upcoming summer season is our newly redesigned Splash Pool Bar.
“In addition, we’ve upgraded our health club and spa that offers a very high level of service. Many of our guests are interested in a vacation that includes pampering for both the body and soul,” he said.
So where are the best places to stay during the summer season? The following hotels offer a variety of amenities and experiences for American tourists.
The deluxe hotel, which highlights 10 different types of rooms for couples, families and business executives, is offering special summer rates, which includes one child staying for free in a double room. The hotel offers a range of amenities including an outdoor swimming pool and a fully equipped health club. The Executive Lounge on the top floor is designed for private business and social gatherings. The completely refurbished spa and sauna offer a wide variety of soothing body and facial treatments. The posh Sofia bistro and the hotel’s sumptuous dining room menu is helmed by renowned executive chef
King David Hotel
The upscale landmark facility, which is also the flagship hotel of the Dan Hotel chain, is steeped in the city’s history. The elegant rooms overlook the walls of the Old City. The King David also features an inviting outdoor pool for guests and their children, as well as a tennis court and state-of-the-art fitness center. The dining room offers a bountiful selection of delectable meals for the entire family.
At one of the city’s most sought-after boutique hotels (only 130-plus rooms), located in the fashionable Talbieh District, each room highlights a quiet elegance that is perfect for young couples and families.
The dining room features top-quality European and Israeli dishes. Business professionals can work in the hotel’s fully equipped business center. The hotel is conveniently located near the Old City and the city’s central shopping district.
Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers
Within the past year the fashionable hotel has completely refurbished its interior and exterior, highlighted by a variety of newly remodeled rooms, as well as a new outdoor pool for children that will open by the end of June. The hotel also boasts a new spa and fitness center. The posh Olive Leaf restaurant accentuates the upscale kosher food trend that has become part of the city’s culinary culture and has become a magnet for visiting American tourists.
Dan Tel Aviv Hotel
The city’s first luxury hotel, built in 1952, is still lauded as one of Israel’s finest. It is a mecca for foreign business executives and politicians who wish to be near everything, as well as families from all over
the globe who want to revel in the luxury. The hotel features a variety of rooms for executives, couples and families. There is a large indoor pool, an outdoor pool with a sundeck, and a spa and fitness center. The Dan chain is renowned for its fully supervised Danyland Children’s Club, where youngsters indulge in multimedia games, creative workshops and competitions.
Prima Tel Aviv
Suites and family rooms are featured in this metro boutique facility that is located just across the street from the city’s bustling seaside promenade and beach. In fact, all of the rooms boast mesmerizing views of the Mediterranean. The hotel is also close to the city’s trendy Dizengoff Street shopping district and the nearby Port of Tel Aviv (Namal Tel Aviv). The hotel’s Shangri-la restaurant serves up a Thai menu for lunch and dinner.
Ruth Rimonim Safed
The only hotel in the legendary town of Tzfat has earned top international ranking for its architectural beauty and personalized service. The rooms highlight a breathtaking view of mystical Mount Meron and the pastoral Galilee region. The hotel promotes itself as a peaceful romantic getaway, where couples can indulge themselves in the beautiful spa and health club. The adjacent Artists Colony is one of the city’s top cultural attractions. The hotel recently added a fully stocked wine cellar, where seminars and other special events can be held in a unique setting.
Dubbed as a “self-contained vacation paradise” that overlooks the Red Sea, this is also one of the most popular hotels among upscale Israeli tourists with children. The hotel highlights large outdoor blue pools with cascading waterfalls. The ample guest rooms and suites overlook the pool or the Red Sea. Parents can chill out in the Turkish and Finnish sauna, while the children can play from sunup to sundown in the Danyland Children’s Club. The dining room, known as Food Fair, features an all-you-can-eat buffet. danhotels.com.
Known for its high standards of service and hospitality, the completely remodeled facility (formerly known as the Neptune) offers a large outdoor pool for adults, a children’s pool and round-the-clock activities for the entire family. The guest rooms overlook the majestic Eilat Bay. As the hotel is located in the center of town, guests can stroll to a variety of seaside attractions, including shopping malls, amusement parks and movie theaters.