The current worldwide health crisis has caused international tourism to come to a halt, and 95% of Israel’s hotels have been closed since early March as a result. However, Israel’s quick and far-reaching response to the pandemic has meant its tourism industry is now able to begin returning to a “new normal”, beginning with the reopening of hotels under new public health guidelines.
The increase in tourism activity is enabled by the measured return of air travel to Israel, which comes as Ben Gurion Airport announces that it is in the midst of preparing a plan for a “return to operation”, by implementing a wide range of measures to prevent disease infection amongst departures and arrivals, in an effort to safeguard public health and safety, and create a “Coronavirus Free Zone”. As a result, hotels and accommodation in Israel have begun to open their doors again, by following guidelines provided by International and Israeli authorities and regulators.
Indeed, whilst Dan Tel Aviv has remained open during the entire period, the Dan Hotel chain has announced it will be taking guests at Dan Caesarea and Dan Eilat from this week. Other hotels in the chain will resume operations within the coming months after undergoing thorough disinfection and cleaning in all areas of operation, from areas where there is frequent contact, through to laundry procedures, cooking and eating utensils and sanitation – however, buffet style restaurant offerings will be replaced with table service. On arrival, guests will have their temperature checked and receive a care package containing a face mask, sanitising gel and wet wipes. Social distancing will also be introduced in all the hotels’ public areas, allowing guests to relax and enjoy their stay.
Dan Tel Aviv
The Isrotel chain has said its first three hotels to reopen will be the Royal Garden in Eilat, the Beresheet in Mitzpe Ramon and the Mitzpe Hyamim in the Upper Galilee. The hotel chain has published its internal guidelines for the safe running of its facilities and stated it is “complying with and exceeding Ministry of Health guidelines… to ensure your continued peace of mind as you enjoy a safe, relaxing vacation experience with Isrotel Hotels.” Guests will also be able to cancel bookings up to 24 hours before arrival without the need to pay a fine.
The Nakash Group will also be opening five hotels next week, on 28th May, including the Setai Jaffa and Herbert Samuel in Tel Aviv, the Reef in Eilat, Milos Dead Sea and The Setai Sea of Galilee. The Nakash Group are also allowing cancellations up to 48 hours before the scheduled arrival and guests will be able to dine in their rooms.
The Efendi Hotel, a 12 room luxury boutique property in Acre, has also announced it will be reopening to domestic guests this week on 22nd May, following the Ministry of Health’s official guidelines.
Likewise, Brown’s Hotel Collection of boutique properties will be opening back up for business, with Brown TLV and Brown Beach House among the hotels re-opening for guests in the coming weeks.
Finally, now that the Tel Aviv coastline has reopened to travellers, the Hilton Beach is back open for guests of the Hilton Tel Aviv and The Vista at Hilton Tel Aviv to enjoy.
Israel’s zimmers (country lodges) have also been given the green light to reopen under certain conditions, as outlined by the Ministry of Tourism. Tourists can now visit zimmers which follow guidelines around the cleaning and disinfecting of their facilities and operations, the protective equipment and safeguarding measures for their staff, the maintained closure of public water facilities and public activity facilities, and limiting guests to families who’ve been together for 14 days prior to their arrival at the zimmer.
Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director of the Israel Government Tourist Office UK: “We are thrilled to see the Israel tourism industry begin to open up again – seeing the smiling faces of Israel’s people back on the beaches sunbathing or swimming is priceless. We’re also celebrating the arrival of the first visitors to the City of David and Mount Carmel, to Caesarea, Megiddo, Masada and the Dead Sea. The future of travel is bright – we are currently working with industry partners and friends to make sure the travel in Israel is even more exciting and enjoyable for our UK travellers and we look forward to welcoming them back soon.
The reopening of Israel’s accommodation offerings is a positive sign for the number of properties currently under development, with plans to officially open in the coming year.
Indeed, the highly-anticipated Six Senses Shaharut is now scheduled to open in September, in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert. Guests will be able to enjoy Jeep or camel safaris through rugged desert landscapes, archaeological expeditions, dune walking, or excursions to the Red Sea. If they want to stay in, guests can indulge in an abundance of spa treatments, or, enjoy delicious Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine, made with fresh ingredients sourced from the resort garden.
Six Senses Shaharut
In just a few months time, on 1st August, the much-awaited Kedma Hotel by Isrotel will open its doors for the first time. Located in Sde Boker, the Negev-inspired, 163 room desert oasis is walking distance from the desert home of Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding natural landscapes, the history of the spice route on which it is situated, or take on exhilarating ATV, jeep or dirt bike rides, stargazing expeditions or camel-riding escapades. The serene, open-air, desert-khan inspired hotel also offers spaces to relax and unwind away from the heat, including an expansive spa and gym with 8 treatment rooms, a Turkish bath, a heated indoor therapy pool and dry sauna. After a spa session, guests can indulge in local cuisine at the 180-seat restaurant with a pool-view terrace, the lobby bar overlooking the pool, the ChillOut pool bar and restaurant or the wine room for workshops and meetings.
The renowned hotel concept Nobu is on track with its expansion to Tel Aviv, confirmed to take place in the near future. All of Nobu’s properties are designed exclusively with an overall feel of Japanese minimalism, and every hotel’s design is inspired and characterised by the local surroundings of the city. This provides guests with a unique experience regardless of which Nobu property they visit in the world. Once finished, the Tel Aviv hotel will have 38 rooms, a beautiful garden, a pool, a private rooftop, and will be situated on Tel Aviv’s iconic street Rothschild Boulevard.
Nobu, Tel Aviv
Brown Hotels is also set to open its biggest boutique hotel yet, Hôtel Bobo in Tel Aviv. Situated on Yavneh Street, the new property boasts 200 unique rooms and suites which combine Bohemian and artistic design with luxurious comfort and quality, and will offer breath-taking panoramic views over Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean.
Another upcoming opening is Selina, a hotel-come-hostel concept, which was set up in order to give back to local communities. The idea for Selina was developed in 2014 in a small Panamanian town by the Israelis Rafael Museri and Daniel Rudasevski, and is finally starting to become a reality. Through the initiative “Selina Gives Back”, all employees will spend 2% of their working hours volunteering for a range of causes, and the guests are of course also welcome to join. Selina will open its doors from 15th June.