What if you were able to check in at a top Israeli hotel this summer, wave goodbye to the kids at the front desk and then, minutes later, find yourself nursing a fruity Mediterranean cocktail by the sun-kissed pool?
A mirage? Nope, it’s the real deal!
A large number of quality Israeli hotels have worked diligently to perfect summertime family vacation packages that highlight a variety of perks, including indoor and outdoor activities for kids, chill-out spa and poolside amenities for parents and, last but not least, mesmerizing displays of sumptuous culinary experiences for the entire clan.
At one time, in the not-too-distant past, this summertime product was aimed at a mostly Israeli clientele. But as tourism to the Jewish state has risen dramatically during the past few years, Israeli hotel managers have tweaked their packages to appeal to American and European families.
“We have been anticipating this demand for summertime fun for the entire family from our overseas clientele for a while now. Based on the feedback that we have received, the hotel’s summer activities have become a key attraction for our guests,” said Ilan Brenner, assistant general manager for marketing and sales at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel.
In addition to its unique locale (near the Old City) and beautiful interior and exterior architectural design, the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel has boosted its appeal by creating perks for families with children, including adjoining rooms and spacious family units, a poolside grill bar for adults and children, a kids’ club and pool, and a state-of-the-art spa and health club for parents.
“Because the hotel is isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city and located next to a very quiet park [Liberty Bell Park], the parents can actually sample a bit of paradise in the Holy City,” Brenner said. “We’ve tried to anticipate every detail, right down to featuring a kids’ TV channel. In other words, Mom and Dad can watch the news or a movie in peace in their room while the youngsters can enjoy ‘SpongeBob’ next door, without disturbing their parents.”
The hotel also offers a variety of family vacation packages, some of which include freebies to a number of cultural sites, such as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, considered one of the top tourism venues in all of Israel.
Four- and five-star hotels within the larger chains invest considerable sums of money toward creating a variety of other fascinating tourism encounters. For example, the Fattal Hotel chain, which boasts 29 Israeli hotels under various brand names (Herods, Leonardo, Le Meridien), is renowned for its cultural and culinary family vacation packages.
“The Fattal chain has built a value-for-the-money concept that is based on a year-round vacation experience, not just summertime, which of course represents the height of the tourism season,” said Roni Aloni, Fattal’s vice president of marketing and sales. “At our resort hotels in Eilat, Tiberias and the Dead Sea, we offer several types of cultural happenings, from in-house entertainment troupes performing for the kids and adults, to headlining some of the top stars in Israeli pop music. All of these events are offered to guests free of charge, which has made our resort hotels a big hit with families.”
The Fattal chain also recently unveiled an ultra-chic business- and family-oriented hotel that highlights a unique time-travel experience. The new Herods Hotel Tel Aviv (the former Sheraton Moriah) has been redesigned from top to bottom to reflect the cultural grandeur of 1930s Tel Aviv, right down to the smart yesteryear uniforms worn by its entire staff. It’s akin to entering an Israeli version of a Hollywood movie set.
The Herods Tel Aviv showcases luxury accommodations with an outdoor pool, indoor spa and themed culinary offerings in the dining room and 1930s-style restaurants.
“We spent over $20 million remodeling the facility, in order to create a true theme hotel. It’s a unique property, with a unique environment located along the beautiful Tel Aviv beachfront that accentuates the best of everything,” Aloni said.
In addition to the Inbal Jerusalem and Herods Tel Aviv, the following are some top Israeli hotels currently offering special summer deals for families:
DAVID CITADEL HOTEL
The hotel’s new state-of-the-art kids’ club is a major feature at the luxury facility. The club highlights PlayStation and Wii games, a kindergarten with corners for stage performances, arts and crafts center, and a large movie screen. The Jerusalem-based hotel is also in the midst of putting the finishing touches on a series of renovations to its lobby terrace area, breakfast dining room, Executive Lounge and health club.
RAMADA JERUSALEM HOTEL
The hotel’s “We Love Kids” program encompasses comprehensive children’s indoor and outdoor activities as well as discounted children’s room rates. The hotel complex features a large, landscaped outdoor pool area and an indoor pool with a health club and sauna. The Ramada has also garnered a reputation for hosting lavish summertime simchas, including weddings and b’nai mitzvah in the main ballroom and out by the pool.
The 14-hotel chain features Danyland kids’ clubs, which are run by an experienced, professionally trained staff. Each Danyland offers a variety of activities, including puppet shows, arts and crafts, sports, movies and cookery. During the evening hours, there are discos, talent contests, magic shows and other entertainment as well. In addition, each child who arrives during the summer receives a gift and vouchers that can be cashed in for a light snack. Dan Hotels hasn’t forgotten about teens and pre-teens. They have access to Danyland Teen Club, which offers sports activities, movies and more.
HOLIDAY INN/CROWNE PLAZA
Formal and informal entertainment for youngsters will be featured in almost all of the chain’s hotels during the daytime, along with nightly musical and stage shows for both adults and children. Guests who stay at hotels in Tel Aviv and Haifa receive free tickets to local attractions. Crowne Plaza Hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are also renowned for their upscale kosher cuisine.
ISLAND SUITES HOTEL
Located along Netanya’s beautiful coastline, this new hotel offers a variety of affordable family plans during the summer, highlighted by spacious suites (one and two bedrooms), family rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a magnificent balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. The facility also boasts a large outdoor pool, kids’ pool, gym, rejuvenating spa with facial treatments, as well as wet and dry saunas. Island also offers a pool bar and a weekly poolside barbecue. During the summer, the hotel will debut its Bleecker Street coffee shop, featuring lunch and dinner menus. Some of the hotel’s other unique amenities include a shopping service and free bicycles.
SHERATON TEL AVIV
The pool deck has been adapted to children’s needs, including a pool for ages 3 and under, sports entertainment and table tennis. From Aug. 10 to Aug. 25, the hotel will feature a Children’s Arena, featuring free Internet, computer stations, PlayStation games, kid-friendly snacks and beverages. In cooperation with the award-winning Golan Heights Winery, the hotel is launching a wine stand in the lobby, where premium wines will be available for tasting and for purchase. As for entertainment, there will be a twice-weekly Jazz Night just before sunset, featuring cool music at the pool area overlooking the Mediterranean.