French-Jewish tycoon plans 'Club Med’ for Kinneret shore

Laurent Levy buys 10 hectares zoned for 1,000 hotel rooms

January 2, 2018 05:01
2 minute read.
Sunset at the Kinneret

Sunset at the Kinneret. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Two years after opening the first of 70 planned optical stores throughout the country, French-Jewish business magnate Laurent Levy has purchased 10 hectares of land on the Migdal shore of Lake Kinneret to construct 800-1,000 hotel rooms.

The lots acquired by Levy will account for one third of the 3,000 hotel rooms slated to be built there, Globes reported on Sunday.

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Levy, who plans to invest hundreds of millions of shekels in building the hotels, declined to be interviewed, but the Tourism Ministry confirmed that it was in contact with him concerning the construction of a 600-room vacation village.

While not confirmed, it is rumored that Levy is negotiating with the Club Med International hotel chain to construct a vacation village on the shore as well.

In 2000, before a law was passed limiting beach construction to a distance of 300 meters from the waterline, the Tourism Ministry published an architectural tender for planning development on the shore, which was won by architect Matityahu Avshalomov.

\Two hotels currently under construction on the Migdal shore are scheduled to open in 2018. The 150-room Magadala Hotel, now being built by Ark New Gate, a company owned by the Mexican Church, is in the advanced stages of construction, and the 200-room Sea of Galilee is being built by developer Avihu Tal, owner of the Restel Hotel in Tiberias.

The Tourism Ministry approved a NIS 15 million grant for the two hotels, amounting to 20% of the investment.

The remaining area along the shore is held by private landowners, whom Levy is contacting one by one, Globes reported.

As of now, he already owns a large proportion of the shore’s hotel rights, and is in negotiations with the ministry to be reimbursed for his investment.

Israel Amrosi, head of the Migdal Local Council, touted the ongoing development as a boon for the area.

“Within the span of a few years, the Migdal shore is becoming the leading tourist area in the Galilee,” he said.

“We are now paving a NIS 20 million road that will connect all the planned hotels. We believe that in addition to Levy, addition owners of lots along the shore will utilize the building rights.”

Levy immigrated to Israel in 2005, and settled in Jerusalem with his family. His name was previously linked to the purchase of dozens of apartments for investment in the most expensive areas of the capital.

A trained optometrist, Levy made his fortune as owner of the Optical Center chain, which has over 300 branches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Luxembourg and Jerusalem.

A noted philanthropist, Levy promised – upon opening his flagship optical shop in Jerusalem’s Zion Square in November of 2015 – to donate 20,000 free pairs of glasses to those in need across the country.

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