What if you were able to check in to a top Israeli hotel this summer, wave goodbye to the kids at the front desk and minutes later find yourself nurturing a fruity Mediterranean cocktail by the sun-kissed pool? A mirage? Nope, it’s the real deal.
A large number of quality Israeli hotels are now offering summertime family vacation packages with perks, including indoor and outdoor happenings for kids, chill-out spa and poolside experiences for parents and sumptuous culinary experiences for the entire clan.
In previous years, hotels had geared their summer business mostly to locals. But as tourism to the Jewish state has risen dramatically during the past few years, 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 awhile now,” says Ilan Brenner, the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel’s assistant general manager. “Based on the feedback that we have received, the hotel’s summer activities have become a key attraction for our guests,”
By combining its unique locale (near the Old City) and striking architectural design, the Inbal has been able to create a checklist of summertime perks to families with children. They include: adjoining rooms and spacious family units, poolside grill bar for adults and children, kids club and pool, state-of-the-art spa and health club for the parents … even a kids TV channel. “In other words,” quips Brenner, “while mom and dad can watch the news or a movie in peace in their room, the youngsters can enjoy ‘Sponge Bob’ next door, without disturbing their parents. We offer a variety of family vacation packages, some of which include freebies to a number of cultural sites, including the Biblical Zoo, which is considered one of the top tourism venues in all of Israel.”
The Fattal Hotel chain, which boasts 29 hotels under various brand names (Herod’s, Leonardo, Le Meridien etc.) across the country, is known for its cultural and culinary family vacation packages.
“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,” says Roni Aloni. “All of these events are offered to guests free of charge, which has made our resort hotels a big hit with families.”
The new Herod’s Tel Aviv (the former Sheraton Moriah) has gotten a top-to-bottom, $20 million renovation to reflect the cultural grandeur of 1930s Tel Aviv, right down to the smart yesteryear uniforms worn by the entire staff. It’s akin to entering an Israeli version of a Hollywood movie set. The hotel, on the Tel Aviv beachfront, showcases luxury accommodations with an outdoor pool, indoor spa, themed culinary offerings in the dining room and ‘30s style restaurants. “In fact, throughout our entire hotel chain, guests will discover a healthy and delicious gastronomic experience, featuring lots of salads and fruits for adults and children,” Aloni says.
Below is a list of top hotels offering summer family packages:
Inbal Jerusalem Hotel (www.inbalhotel.com). There are a variety of family vacation packages to choose from with built-in amenities and discounted rates based on the number of nights stayed at the hotel. The first-class spa and health club highlights dozens of treatments for adults. The menu in the hotel’s Italian-themed Sofia restaurant has been upgraded to include many new dishes prepared by Chef Moti Bochbut’s staff.
David Citadel Hotel (www.tdchotel.com). The hotel’s new state-of-the-art Kid’s Club features Sony PlayStation and Wii video games, a kindergarten with corners for stage performances, arts and crafts center, as well as a large movie screen. The Jerusalem-based hotel is also putting the finishing touches on a series of renovations in the lobby terrace area, breakfast dining room, executive lounge and health club.
Ramada Jerusalem Hotel (www.jerusalemramadahotel.com) The hotel’s “We Love Kids” program features children’s indoor and outdoor activities, as well as discounted children’s room rates. The hotel complex features a large landscaped outdoor pool area, as well as an indoor pool with a health club and sauna. The Ramada has also garnered a reputation for hosting lavish summertime simchas, including weddings and bar mitzvahs in the main ballroom and at the pool.
Dan Hotels (www.danhotels.com). The 14-hotel chain highlights “Danyland” kid’s clubs. The clubs are run by experienced leaders and offer a variety of activities, including puppet shows, arts and crafts, sports, movies and cooking. At night there are discos, talent contests and magic shows. In addition, each child who arrives during the summer receives a gift and vouchers that can be cashed in for a light snack. Teenagers also have access to a Danyland Teen Club for teens and pre-teens, which offers sports activities, movies and more.
Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza (www.afi-hotels.com). Formal and informal entertainment for youngsters will be featured in almost all of the chain’s hotels during the daytime, along with daily evening 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 known for their upscale kosher cuisine.
Fattal Hotels (www.Fattal.co.il). Israel’s largest hotel chain caters to a wide range of local and international clientele, who seek a variety of business and vacation experiences: Herod’s Tel Aviv upscale “1930s theme” hotel; the elegant Leonardo Plaza in Jerusalem (the former Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza); the body- and-soul-healing Le Meridien Dead Sea; the enticing Leonardo Plaza Tiberias; the adventurous Club Med Coral Beach in Eilat.
Prima Hotels (www.english.prima.co.il). Each hotel in the chain highlights a distinctive concept. At the Prima Galil in Tiberias, guests are treated to a “Galilee” experience, which is enhanced by the hotel’s landscape, flavors, products, art and ambience. Recommended activities include: sports, bicycling, jeep trips, visits to local wineries as part of extended day-long culinary tours, as well as the hotel’s own Galilee tastings. Other summer activities include a Kid’s Club, which offers a variety of arts and crafts workshops fun and games in the hotel and pool area, free guided walking tours and discounted admissions to local attractions.
Sheraton Tel Aviv (www.sheratontelaviv.com). The pool deck has been adapted to children’s needs, such as a children’s pool for ages 3 years old and under, sports entertainment and ping-pong. From Aug. 10-25, the hotel will feature a “children’s arena,” featuring free Internet, computer stations, Sony 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 sold. A twice-weekly “jazz night” will take place at the pool area just before sunset, where you’ll be able to enjoy the cool music and revel in the beauty of the Mediterranean coast.
David InterContinental Tel Aviv (www.ichotelsgroup.com). Located directly across from the bustling Middle Eastern Carmel outdoor market, and just a short walk from the entrance to the beautiful port of Jaffa, this upscale facility is a popular venue for families with children, as well as business people who wish to be near the heart of the city’s commercial district. During the summer months, parents can walk across the street and frolic with the kids in the inviting Mediterranean sea. The hotel itself boasts an outdoor pool, spacious sun deck and an invigorating spa/health center. The Inca Cigar and Sports Bar is also one of the city’s hottest gathering places.
Island Suites Hotel (www.islandsuites.co.il). Located along Netanya’s beautiful coastline, this new hotel is offering a variety of affordable family plans during the summer, highlighted by spacious suites (1-2 bedrooms), family rooms, fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. The facility also boasts a large outdoor pool, kid’s pool, gym, spa with facial treatments, as well as wet and dry saunas. During the summer, the hotel will also highlight the debut of the trendy Bleecker Street coffee shop, featuring fresh pastries, as well as lunch and dinner menus. Some of the hotel’s other unique aspects include a shopping service and free bicycles.