Israel: Accommodations Choices

For centuries, pilgrims to the Holy Land could only pray they would find hospitality when they got there. But since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Israeli hotel chains have blossomed and now compete with international giants.

Homegrown Hospitality
Predating the birth of the state by a few months and paralleling its history is the Dan chain, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

The chain started with the Kaete Dan Pension on Hayarkon Street, facing Tel Aviv's Mediterranean beach. By 1953, the modest accommodation had become the deluxe, 492-room Dan Tel Aviv.

Three years later, the chain added the Accadia resort on the Mediterranean in Herzlia.

The group's crown jewel is the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which was built in 1931 as the Holy Land's first luxury hotel and reopened as a Dan property in 1961.

Over the next 36 years, the chain grew to a total of nine deluxe properties, all with meeting facilities. The other member hotels are the Panorama in Tel Aviv; the Dan Caesarea, the Carmel and Panorama in Haifa; the Dan Eilat and the new Pearl in Jerusalem.

The Kibbutz Hotels chain was formed 20 years ago to represent guest accommodations in rural kibbutz communities, where stays once meant sleeping in the beds of members who were away. The chain now includes 18 modern, first class hotels and seven more modest holiday villages.

Isrotel, a chain that is also native to the Holy Land, has ridden the wave of development, mostly in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. It started 15 years ago with the King Solomon and now has the Sport, Lagunna, Riviera and its newest, the posh Royal Beach on the shore not far from the Jordanian city of Aqaba.

Also a pioneer is the chain of Moriah hotels that two years ago became Radisson properties.

Radisson Moriah recently completed a $17 million renovation of the Plaza Tel-Aviv along that city's seaside promenade. A $7 million refurbishment of the chain's Plaza Jerusalem and $6.5 million facelift of its upscale Plaza Dead Sea resort are expected to be completed within the next couple of years.

The group also has properties in Tiberias, Eilat, Zichron Yaakov and a more modest hotel at the Dead Sea, the Radisson Moriah Gardens.

Among other international chains, growth has also increased each year: Here is their news:

ITT Sheraton
The Sheraton Tel Aviv, one of the Holy Land's early big-name hotels, plans to celebrate Israel's jubilee year with special events. The hotel recently completed the first stage of renovations, which will continue into next year.

The Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza, a landmark in the center of the capital, has updated rooms, lobbies and restaurants.

A luxury property is under construction in Eilat and will open in late 1998. The chain recently introduced the mid-priced Four Points brand in Tiberias, Jerusalem and Eilat.

Hilton
The Tel Aviv Hilton, which opened in 1965, has finished most of a $40 million renovation.

In January, the chain opened a hotel in Beersheba after a $36 million investment.

A Jerusalem Hilton is under construction on King David Street near the Old City and is due to open next January. A second Hilton is planned for Jerusalem, just outside the walls of the Old City, by the turn of the millennium.

In Eilat, a Hilton is due to open by the end of 1998 and a David Dead Sea Hilton is planned for completion in 1999. The Haifa Hilton is to open in 1999 atop the new Haifa Convention Center.

Hyatt
The 10-year-old Hyatt Regency Jerusalem Conference Resort will begin a major renovation in November.

The Hyatt Regency Dead Sea Resort & Spa will celebrate its first birthday in July and plans to open a private medical center as part of its Mineralia Spa.

Holiday Inns
The 302-room Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Dead Sea, is the newest deluxe property in this chain.

Others in the group include Crowne Plaza hotels in Jerusalem, adjacent to the International Convention Center; in Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean; in Herzlia, also on the shore, and in Eilat overlooking the Red Sea.

Holiday Inns brand hotels include the Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee and the Eilat Patio near the Red Sea.

Days Inns
A division of HFS Inc., Days Inns chose Israel for its first example of a worldwide Plaza brand that focuses on higher quality and improved amenities. The 160-room Days Inn Plaza opened near Tiberias amid the picturesque hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee.

This property is the seventh Israel location for Days Inns; the first six are the all-suite Lev Yerushalayim in the heart of Jerusalem and first-class and tourist-class hotels in Eilat, Metulla, Nahariya, Tel Aviv and Gush Katif.

Howard Johnson
The latest hotel chain in this ancient land is Howard Johnson International, also a division of HFS. Four Howard Johnson Plaza properties opened on May 26; the chain added two during the summer and is building yet another.

Under construction and scheduled to open next summer is a 207-room Howard Johnson Plaza Jerusalem on Jaffa Road downtown.

The 86-room Optima, which opened last spring in Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan suburb as a business hotel, this summer also became a Plaza property.

Also this summer, the chain opened the 44-cottage Howard Johnson Hermon Heights Resort overlooking the Hula valley in the Golan Heights.

The chain launched its Israel presence with the Ruth Rimonim in Safed; the deluxe Neptune and the more affordable Galei Eilat at the Red Sea, and the renovated Galei Kinnereth in Tiberias.

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Hotel Reservation Numbers

Dan Hotels: Contact the Israel Hotel Representatives at (212) 752-6120, (800) 223-7773; fax (212) 759-7495. Web site www.danhotels.co.il.

Days Inns: The agent hot line is (800) 633-1414; reservations: (800) DAYS-INN. The U.S. representative is Yigal Yaari (718) 338-6537, (800) 538-4683. Web site: www.daysinn.com.

Holiday Inn: (800) HOLIDAY. Web site: www.holiday-inn.com.

Howard Johnson: Agents should call (800) 654-4656. Web site: www.hojo.com.

Hyatt Regency: For groups, call the Jerusalem Hyatt Regency Conference Resort property at (011) 972-2 533-1234; fax (011) 972-2 532-6873. Groups should contact the Dead Sea resort at (011) 972-2 544-5234 or fax (011) 972-2 544-5226. In the U.S., call Hyatt International at (800) 233-1234, e-mail hyattjrstrendline.co.il. Web site: www.intournet.co.il/hyatt/.

Isrotel and Kibbutz Hotels: Call the Israel Hotel Reservation Center: (201) 816-0830, (800) 552-0141; fax (201) 816-0633. For the kibbutz hot line, call (888) KIBBUTZ. Web sites: www.isrotel.co.il and www.kibbutz.co.il.

Radisson Moriah: (212) 541-5009; fax (212) 649-1745. Web site www.radisson.com.

Sheraton: (800) 325-3535. Web site: www.ittsheraton.com (click on the Sheraton icon and enter "Israel" in the search box).

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