NEW YORK -- The year 2000 will be a "rare time" in the Holy Land,
according to Omri Krongold, general manager of the Laromme
Jerusalem Hotel, a premier property in Jerusalem.
"I expect it to be a unique situation, the first and only time
many Christians will visit," he said on a visit here.
About 20% of Laromme Jerusalem Hotel
guests are Christian pilgrims, but that figure is expected to jump
to as high as 45% for 2000, Krongold said. The property's principal
market is Jewish, and he said families celebrating a bar or bat
mitzvah (a Jewish teenager's coming-of-age ceremony) is a growing
The hotel has been redecorated and it smoke-free, Krongold said,
but a Cuban cigar smoking area is located near the new 14 Martinis
bar. Renovations to kitchen and ballroom facilities are due to be
completed by September and will provide facilities for groups of
between 10 and 1,000 people, he said.
But "the most important thing is the staff," Krongold said,
adding that personnel training began last January to facilitate
requests by pilgrimage groups with which the employees might not
have experience. "Priority one for 2000 is to shape the attitudes
and service of the employees, from housekeeping to management.
"Some [of the pilgrims] might feel lost," he said. "We will help
make them feel at home and make sure everyone gets special
attention." Training has focused on increasing awareness and
service to guests who come from all cultures, including American,
French and Spanish. As head of the staff, Krongold said, he makes
it a point to be available personally to any guests who need him.
All guests get bottled water, a fruit basket and a robe "to help
them feel important."
The property adjoins Liberty Bell Park, with its replica of the
symbol of U.S. independence, and is in walking distance to the Old
City. The Laromme's guests frequently include diplomats and
dignitaries from around the world.
Special attention also is being given to making the facilities
accessible to travelers with disabilities, he said, noting that the
entrance to the hotel is at street level.
Some industry people in Israel are concerned about having too
many pilgrims during the turn of the millennium -- some are
predicting as many as 6 million in a country accustomed to
receiving 2.5 million annually -- but, Krongold said, roads have
been improved and the country is ready.
Regarding concerns over the Y2K computer bug, Krongold said all
the Laromme computers will be ready by May.
He added that Israel, which has achieved worldwide prominence in
the software field, will be ready as well.
Of the hotel's 294 rooms, 16 are suites. Rack rates start at
$163 for a double room, with a full Israeli buffet breakfast for
two. A child up to age 18 can share the room without extra charge
and pays $16 for breakfast.
A Boutique package will be available during the summer high
season, from April 28 to Sept. 21, with rates starting at $225 for
a double room, with breakfast for two. Agents earn a standard 10%
Laromme Jerusalem Hotel, Address: 3 Jabotinski St., Jerusalem
92145. Phone: (011) 972-2 675-6666; Fax: (011) 972-2 675-6777; Web:
www.laromme-hotel.co.il; E-mail: [email protected]