Despite the scourge of on-again, off-again missile attacks from Gaza on the Ashkelon and Sderot regions, the terror chieftains have failed to make a dent in Israel’s tourist industry, which has remained resilient throughout 2012. In fact, Israel’s ministry of tourism is predicting a record-breaking year for incoming tourism that could eclipse 2010, when 3.3 million visitors entered the Jewish state.
The increased growth in tourism has created some unique challenges within the local tourism industry. During the past year, Israeli hotel managers have discovered that legions of upscale tourists are now booking their reservations much closer to their arrival dates than in the past.
“Globe-trotting customers want quick check-ins, fabulous food, Wi-Fi capability, immaculate rooms and friendly service,” said Bruno DeSchuyter, general manager of the five-star Inbal Jerusalem Hotel.
“Jerusalem is still a prime destination for American tourists, and the landscape in and around our facility is an attraction as well. However, we endeavour to always be prepared to handle large numbers of last-minute bookings, while maintaining high standards of personalized services… In the Internet and smartphone age, it has become tougher to forecast what is required, so we always make sure that our staff is ready to meet any challenge,” DeSchuyter continued.
“And most importantly, as more and more people are booking their reservations direct via their laptops and smartphones, we are constantly featuring special deals on our website. The fact that the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine selected our hotel to be placed on the ‘Gold List’ of elite hotels around the world, means we have absolutely succeeded in adapting to the changing needs of upscale tourists.”
Rafi Beeri, the Dan Hotels’ vice-president of marketing and sales, reported that American tourists are searching for both premium hospitality, as well as a myriad of travel experiences. “Jerusalem is still a prime focal point for American tourists, especially during the summer months, when many families look to celebrate bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall etc. But more and more couples and families are booking reservations in places other than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” Beeri said.
“American tourists are booking reservations in what I would call high-quality, off-the-beaten track hotels in Herzliya [Dan Accadia], Caesarea [Dan Caesarea] and Haifa [Dan Carmel]. In fact, the Dan Carmel is well on its way towards becoming the King David Hotel of northern Israel, as we have completely renovated the hotel from top to bottom and transformed it into a luxury facility. The Dan Carmel also provides tourists with easy access to various attractions in metro Haifa and the Galilee region.”
Beeri said that American tourists come to Israel in search of something more than being greeted by a bowl of fruit in their rooms. “Both Americans and global travellers in general are looking for the quality hotels to create a ‘wow’ effect. This does not have to mean that hotel managers must add another apple to the fruit bowl in their room, but rather personalized services, fast connectivity via Wi-Fi, true hospitality and yes, colourful displays of delicious food in the dining room and restaurant.
“With many Americans, having a good time is not just defined by the physical amenities, either. It could also encompass who is sitting next to you in the dining room or out by the pool, where you can engage in pleasant conversation and shared experiences.”
Even though the calendar says July, there are still a variety of summer deals available at many of the top hotels in Israel. Following is a listing of some of hotels that offer packages for couples and families.
Rimonim Hotels, http: English.rimonim.com
The Royal Rimonim Dead Sea recently opened its plush Royal Lounge. The lounge is situated one floor above the lobby and boasts panoramic views from a large terrace overlooking the Dead Sea. The lounge offers private breakfast and dinner, as well as light snacks and drinks throughout the day. Wine, soft drinks and hot beverages are served throughout the day and during dinner. Children are allowed to enter the lounge during meals when accompanied by their parents. The use of the lounge is offered to guests staying in the hotel’s Royal and Deluxe suites. Guests staying in the hotel’s Panorama rooms, Deluxe rooms and Family rooms may purchase a VIP package, which includes use of the Royal Lounge and the hotel’s private VIP Spa.
Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, www.inbalhotel.com
You can book a number of summer packages via the hotel’s website. July rates begin from $160 per person in a double room, based on a minimum three-night stay, while August rates vary from $160 per person in a double room based on a minimum five-night stay. There are also a variety of enticing bar/bat mitzvah packages for the entire family. In August, the hotel’s popular Kid’s Club will feature a supervised multimedia game room and a host of round-the-clock activities. The hotel’s renowned Sofia Restaurant serves up a variety of fish and pasta dishes, as well as an assortment of unique summer dessert delicacies, prepared by executive chef Moti Buchbut.