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A new look at the Holy Land

Few, if any, visitors go to Israel in pursuit of a luxury beach or spa resort. The historical, archeological and religious sites the land of “milk and honey” offers are reason enough for the journey. But after a day of climbing the haunting rock fortress of Masada, hiking the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, or working your way up and down the craggy cliff faces of the Negev there is nothing better than a posh destination where aching feet and weary bones are caressed and revived.

For decades the hospitality industry in Israel could be reduced to a pleasant, clean room where you could get a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast buffet. However, in recent years there has been a call for world-class lifestyle accommodations, exclusive dining and sybaritic spas. These calls have been answered. Visitors to Israel can now enjoy the Holy Land in a style that would make King Herod blush.

Israel is a tiny country (about the size of New Jersey) 60 percent is desert. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, had a dream of making the desolate, yellow-brown Negev bloom. His dream has reached fruition. On the edge of the Ramon Crater set in an amazing natural landscape of incomparable beauty, the Beeresheet hotel in Mitzpe Ramon awaits a jaw-dropping reaction. A far cry from the tents of the nomads and traders who transported aromatic spices along this route, this property offers the ultimate luxury in an ancient, primeval atmosphere.

Scattered among the desert plants and trees 111 chalets each with breathtaking views blend into the landscape. There is also a large and luxurious lounge, a gourmet restaurant, an indoor swimming pool, a world-class spa, tennis courts, and a desert sculpture park that was hundreds of millions of years in the making. The Beresheet Hotel has combined the natural wonder of the Ramon Crater with human ingenuity and brought life and hospitality to the area.

Jerusalem may be the soul of Israel but Tel Aviv is its pulse. This high tech city has a zesty nightlife, sensational restaurants and some new staggeringly beautiful hotels along the beachfront. The Royal Beach Hotel is outstanding. It offers the Carmel Forest Spa with its pampering treatments and its unique fragrances in the most opulent surroundings. The recently opened Ritz Carlton in Herzliya is dazzling. Accomodations are up to the minute with magnificent views of the beach. There is also a state-of-the-art spa and the Herbert Samuel restaurant, the world’s finest kosher restaurant.

Jerusalem glows. It has its own magic. From the bazaars of the “Old City” to the Western Wall, the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre you will rarely be off your feet. How glorious to, after a rigorous day of sightseeing, to call the David Citadel home. This elegant hotel is a harmonious link between ancient Jerusalem and the new modernized city it is today. You can look out the window of your hotel room and see the Wall, stroll down the Alrov and enter the Jaffa Gate or browse the high-end shops and cafes. But when you return to your hotel you can enjoy luxury that requires a sixth sense to absorb.

Today’s visitors to Israel may take in all the historical gems of generations past. But they need not travel as pilgrims. Rough and tumble accommodations need no longer be part of your itinerary for it is possible to find oasis’ of luxury along the way.

© 2014, Tribune Media Services