PARSIPPANY, N.J.--Between the Dead Sea and Jericho, not far from
Israel's border with Jordan, a stretch of desert has been purchased
for a Howard Johnson property, an official of the project said.
According to Eli Nefussi of the Israel Land Development Hotel
Co., the master franchisee for Howard Johnson Israel, a 50-acre lot
between Jericho and the Dead Sea has been earmarked for
Nefussi said developing the Judean Desert land will take about
one year and construction of the 300-room hotel probably another
Due to the area's proximity to Jordan, he said, and because of
the peace treaty signed with that country four years ago, the
project planners are considering including construction crews from
The Dead Sea has drawn tourists and health enthusiasts since
ancient times. Its position as the lowest spot on earth provides
sunbathing under filtered rays (considered helpful for skin
conditions), and the water's high mineral content has been
designated as therapeutic (especially for muscle and joint
The water is too heavy to support vegetation or animal life, so
it is eerily quiet. The heavy water also keeps people afloat,
providing an exotic experience for many visitors.
The Howard Johnson property will be on the northern shore of the
Nefussi called proximity to Jericho an advantage because a
casino is under construction there, but it is not clear whether the
casino will ever open: Casinos are not legal in Israel, but Jericho
is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.
Even without a casino, the area provides vacationers with
several entertainment options. The property itself will certainly
include a spa, he said. Other hotels have been built along the
southern end of the Dead Sea, and they provide dining and
entertainment venues in addition to spas.
Nearby attractions include the excavated ruins at Herodian
Fortress atop Masada; the oasis at Ein Gedi; the caves at Qumran,
where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; the Attraxia water
park, and the desert, which can be explored by camel or all-terrain
The U.S.-based Howard Johnson chain has opened seven other
properties in Israel in the past year. The former Shalom Hotel in
Tel Aviv became the chain's seventh property in Israel in March.
The hotel faces the Mediterranean in the central business and
shopping district and features modern business services, a
restaurant and a lounge.
The other Howard Johnson properties are the Ruth Rimonim in
Safed in the Galilee; the Optima Plaza in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv;
the Hermon Heights Resort Village in the Golan Heights; the Galei
Kinnereth in Tiberias, and the deluxe Neptune and the
family-oriented Galei Eilat in the Red Sea resort town of
A 17-story property is under construction near the International
Convention Center in Jerusalem and is expected to open later this
A hotel is being built in Nazareth that is due to open in time
for Christian observances in 2000.
Howard Johnson Hotels & Inns, Phone: (800) 654-4656.