This past weekend my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to
experience something romantic. Something that was slightly off the beaten path.
We also wanted it to be something with an exquisite view, and that offered
something outside of our cultural norm. Thus, we found ourselves on the road to
Dalyat el-Carmel, a Druse village on the Carmel Mountain, which is a short drive
The scenery didn't disappoint. With roads winding through
luscious green hills dotted with grazing sheep and goats, with forests as tall
and dense as any found in Europe or the US, and with vistas that take one's
breath away, the drive from Tel Aviv was anything but boring. Rather, it was
serene and it instantly made me feel as if we had entered some gorgeous
Our plan was to arrive that evening at a tzimmer, (a one room cabin
that can be rented just like a hotel room) owned by Souad Halabi, an enchanting
Druse woman with kind features and sparkling eyes. We would spend the night
there, have breakfast the next morning, and then explore the Druse village in
the afternoon at our leisure.
By the time we arrived in the village, the sun had
just about gone all the way down, it had begun to rain, and we were unsure of
our way. We made a phone call and Souad's son, Amir, who happens to be a doctor,
went out of his way to come and fetch us from a gas station. He led us through a
maze of winding streets filled with homes sporting huge arches, long, sweeping
staircases, and open balconies on every side.
Eventually we turned into the
drive of his mother's tzimmer, which is known as the “Estate Village”
rose neighborhood. An absolutely lovely home rose up on the left. After parking,
Amir greeted us in person and took us up a flight of stone stairs and past an
immense courtyard dominated by a fountain. Behind the fountain lies Souad
Halabi's Estate Village Tzimmers. There are three main rooms. Each is designed
for a romantic couple and each is decadently furnished with expensive chairs, a
very comfortable bed, and an island style wooden table top along one wall. On
the latter, there were high quality chocolates, a 2006 bottle of cabernet
sauvignon from the Golan Heights along with wine glasses, and Turkish coffee.
Each room also offers an exquisite shower and a very generous jacuzzi bathtub.
To say that we felt pampered is an understatement.
What can I say about the
breakfast the next morning? For starters it's held inside a huge common room,
decorated in the style of a lodge. Inside there is a fireplace, in which Souad
quickly built a lovely fire, and there are comfortable chairs and couches
situated around it. Wooden hutches and cabinets line the walls and a long table
made for large family dinners is front and center when one walks in. On the
table, Souad laid out a sumptuous feast, and she cooked everything herself. There
were omelettes, pitas, various salads, olives, home-made jams, Druse pizzas,
chai tea, and more. The food tasted wonderful and it simply never seemed to end.
Even when completely full from the food, the offer for more is still on the
Rates for such indulgence runs at a price that we considered more
than reasonable. A room during the week is NIS 650 a night and if it's on the
weekend, it's NIS 750. Breakfast is always included.
From my perspective,
I have been in many high class, boutique hotels and tzimmers where one can cater
to the senses. The Estate Village does not disappoint in this area, but by far,
it was Souad Halabi's family's hospitality and kindness that made the experience
After bidding the Halabi family goodbye, we began our
exploration of the market in Dalyat el-Carmel proper. It's seriously a tourist
paradise. It’s full of goods from all over the world, and of course, there are
all kinds of indigenous, Arabic goods like tobacco water pipes, which are known
locally as Nargilot. There are also Druse restaurants everywhere. For those that
are partial to ethnic food in general, just as Souad's breakfast was worth
eating, the Arabic food in the restaurants is to die for.
The truth is, whether
one is a tourist from Europe, the US, or even if one is a native
Israeli...Dalyat el-Carmel is an experience that is a must on any itinerary that
includes travel in the north of Israel. For more information about rates see www.zimmeril.com/site.asp?site_id=2844
Will Blesch is a Travel Writer and Copywriter