From ancient times to the founding of Israel in 1948 to the present day, people from all over the world have been drawn to the Dead Sea and its mystic shores. The area has fascinating historic ties to the Bible going for it while the healing water is rich in magnesium (believed to improve circulation and skin hydration while reducing inflammation and alleviating arthritis), sulfur and other minerals. There’s also the simple pleasure of effortlessly floating around and taking in the otherworldly scenery.
Until a few years ago, however, the quality and amenities of nearby hotels were afterthoughts. In response to increased international interest in the Dead Sea’s therapeutic effects, increased spa and medical travel, and the more demanding standards of international travelers, the Ein Bokek district blossomed. Unlike the utilitarian hotels used by past generations out of necessity, newer hotels like the Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel and Spa transform a visit to the fabled beach into an all-encompassing experience that complements the austere-yet-sparkling beauty of the saltwater body and Moav Mountains.
The hotel, expressly designed to appeal to family groups and business conferences alike, is a welcoming presence with its sculptural contemporary architecture and a cool color palate of pale green and turquoise hues. The color story flows into large, well-equipped rooms with balconies that overlook the Dead Sea as well as an attractive outdoor swimming pool and its private beach. Public areas include a kids’ club game room, fitness room and a simple but elegant spa for adults offering a nice variety of home grown (or should we say “mined”) treatments and products that take full advantage of the area’s natural attributes. The facility is flanked with an indoor sulphur pool, Jacuzzis, sauna and steam bath.
Like other hotels in the 4- to 5-star class, there is a fine dining/steakhouse restaurant along with an all-day restaurant, Zer Hazahav, which features a buffet that can be worked into a half- or full-board stay. While buffets often get a bad rap, many of Zer Hazahav’s breakfast and dinner offerings — particularly the Israeli and Mediterranean dishes — are surprisingly fresh and nicely presented.
While crowded Eilat had traditionally been the prime destination for Israeli resort vacations over the decades, hotels such as Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel and Spa helped shift that paradigm, thanks to fewer crowds and a modern rethinking of the area’s attributes. Beyond the real-life oasis of the private beach leading to the Dead Sea, there is easy access to the Ahava flagship factory store (noted for its high-quality beauty products), as well as unforgettable outdoor and cultural activities including visits to the historic Masada or Qumran Caves and hikes in Ein Gedi or Nahal Arugot. All of this, meanwhile, led to the staging of numerous festivals and mass concerts (such as the Israeli Opera Festival) in venues in The Dead Sea area and in Masada. The hotel offers packages encompassing these special cultural events as well as family packages and others integrating spa treatments.
Thanksgiving is the one annual long weekend when most families want to — and can — make time to spend together. “At home” may be your most typical choice, but it’s not the only option. There are lots of appealing places for your family to gather. Here are just a few to prompt your search for others, whether near or far from home.
If the hardest part of planning your vacation is worrying about leaving your family pet behind, DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, Myrtle Beach Oceanfront feels your pain. This season the hotel offers a Puppy Love package designed just for you and Fido.
While most travelers know Lake George to be a bustling lakeside beach town in the summer, it’s actually a true stunner in the fall and winter also. With warm-weather seekers and summer crowds heading home, Lake George stays open for business well into the fall and offers even better deals for traveling families looking for a budget — without having to compromise.