Part 1: Tel Aviv
I recently had the opportunity to play a little game of “tourist in my own country” – I spent two days at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv and one day at the Dan Boutique in Jerusalem. This post is going to focus on my time in Tel Aviv. Now I’ve already been all up and down the country thanks to my duties as a Birthright Israel tour guide. I’ve done the tourist thing – but it’s always been a bit, how shall we say, rough? We never stayed at a top quality hotel and I never felt really pampered. This time around though, I was determined that things would be different!
And as soon as we rolled into the Dan Panorama, things were indeed different. The hotel is located across the street from the beach and a few minutes walk away from some of the coolest parts of Tel Aviv – Old Jaffa, the Carmel Market, Neve Zedek and Nachalat Binyamin. Walk a little further up the coast and you’re in the Old Port area. The Hotel itself has ample parking facilities, conference facilities, a great swimming pool, a Jacuzzi and a rudimentary gym. Our room was on the 16th floor and came equipped with a computer and flat panel monitor, wifi, and an amazing view of the Tel Aviv coast from the balcony. The room was comfortably appointed and I totally fell in love with the fluffy bathrobes and ample towels.
We were totally spoiled! For me a trip to Tel Aviv often combines both fun and business. The 18th floor Executive Lounge was a great place to sit and work while enjoying complimentary coffee, beer, wine and all kinds of yummy nosh from light meals to a great selection of desserts. The Pool and sun deck were simply glorious, equipped with big fluffy towels, ample tanning benches and a really delicious and outrageously luxurious pool. The day always began with the signature Dan Hotel touch – probably one of the best breakfasts in Israel – we needed to stay in Tel Aviv for at least two days in order to get just a small sample of most of what was available.
Throughout our stay, the Dan Panorama Hotel staff were courteous, friendly and efficient. I couldn’t help but contemplate the possibility of having Dan Hotels run various Government Ministries… From an Israeli perspective, the experience is odd. We get used to everything being unduly difficult – from getting on a bus to buying nuts at the shuk to registering an address change at the Misrad Hapnim. Yet my two days in Tel Aviv were super easy – truly a vacation in every sense of the word, where the only things I had to concern myself with were work and play. The experience also gave me a sense of hope because the Dan Hotel chain is the only major chain in Israel that is totally Israeli owned and operated. And they’ve been around a long time too – my Mom worked for a bit as a chamber maid at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv prior to marrying my Dad.
Yes, totally Israeli. How Israeli? When I went to speak to the manager about the Hotel, instead of using the opportunity to extol the already apparent virtues of the Hotel, we chatted about American Jews. She wanted to know why most American Jews still don’t visit Israel and what they could do to get them to come. She didn’t speak like a tough as nails businesswoman intent on filling rooms – she spoke like someone who truly missed her distant family. It was really heartwarming – and you know what a cynical bastard I usually am!
Yeah. It was a great time. Totally awesome. Dan Hotels has 13 properties in Israel – the Dan and the Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv (where my Mom worked), the Dan Carmel, the Dan Panorama and the Dan Gardens in Haifa, the Dan Accadia in Herliya, the Dan Caesaria, the Dan and the Dan Panorama in Eilat, the Dan Gardens in Ashkelon, and in Jerusalem, the Dan Panorama, the King David Hotel and the next Hotel we visited – the Dan Boutique.
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