Taste The Coffee

An oasis in Tirat Carmel – Opinion


THE SERENITY of the surroundings leaves you relaxed.


THE SERENITY of the surroundings leaves you relaxed. .
(photo credit: RON SHALAF)


Think spa, Turkish bath, infinity swimming pool, guests in the lobby in white terry cloth robes, and your mind – at least in Israel – wanders to places like the luxurious Beresheet hotel overlooking the Mitzpe Ramon crater, or the Cramim Spa nestled in the hills outside of Jerusalem.

But Tirat Carmel? The one-time ma’abara (tent city for new immigrants) within eyeshot of Haifa?

For some the name Tirat Carmel might conjure up images of a drab, hardscrabble, formerly economically depressed town at the foot of the Carmel. For others, it might bring to mind native sons such as soccer star Reuven Atar or Kiss front man Gene Simmons. But as a location for an upscale hotel? Not likely.

Until now.

Last month a 61-room hotel and spa – the Kedem Hotel – opened on the edge of town, overlooking the forested Monheim Park on one side and a few steps from the pastoral path leading to the Galim Stream on the other.

To get to the hotel you drive through Tirat Carmel – where new, tall apartment buildings have risen high above the 1950s-era long, somewhat dilapidated, apartment rows – and you wonder how exactly a hotel in this one-time development-town can be relaxing, let alone luxurious.

Until you arrive.

The hotel feels like a little island cut off from the mainland.

Rooms on one side look over the hotel parking lot toward wooded hills, and those on the other side look toward the Carmel and Haifa, with the tower of the University of Haifa in the distance. You feel secluded, in nature, even though you are actually on the edge of town and next door to a school.

Gil Ron, the director-general of the hotel, explains that the idea of owner Shalom Shitrit was precisely to put the hotel in this setting, to give a boost to the area and employ people from the town, as well as from neighboring Arab and Druze villages.

And also to create a hotel where it will be possible to relax.

The ambience of the hotel does just that. The wooden décor in the lobby and the rooms, and the smell of the wood itself throughout the facility, creates a feeling of being at one with the forest visible through the windows. The hotel describes itself as “nature friendly,” meaning that the surroundings become an integral part of the experience of the hotel. And they do.

The surroundings are green and beautiful. The hotel is just a few steps – through the patio area and swimming pool – to a path that leads one past dozens of grazing cows to the Galim Stream. And sitting by the small pool itself, which looks with its clean lines as if it just floats off into the horizon and blends with the Haifa skyline, the serenity of the surroundings leaves you relaxed.

The hotel has a wide range of health and relaxation services, providing massages for those interested, and both hot and dry saunas. There is a room for yoga and Pilates, and a newly planted garden area just below the pool, which – when in full bloom – will create even more green space around the hotel. The designers of the facility have strategically placed benches around the grounds where it is possible to get away from people, read, talk privately or just be alone.

The hotel rooms are larger, more spacious than usual, and come equipped with a high-definition television, coffee maker, inviting sitting area, comfortable beds and expansive shower.

The highlight of our particular visit was dinner. The Kedem’s kitchen – which is dairy – provided a buffet that included Druze pita with za’atar made fresh on a poolside tabun oven, a sushi bar and salads that could convince even the most ardent carnivore that it is possible to live on salad alone.

There were nearly a dozen salads – not just the standard lettuce or cut-up tomato, cucumber and carrot ones – but salads that featured nana, or mushrooms, or lentils or fennel. Each was distinct, unique and provided a symphony of flavor.

The hotel boasts that it provides a healthy, relaxing and pampering experience. It could add something else: a culinary treat.

Prices at the Kedem Hotel range from NIS 950 per couple with half board during the week, to NIS 1,200 per night on the weekends. Children under 12 are not admitted.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.


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Taste The Coffee 2019