Forty years after I left the kibbutz, my heart still skips a beat whenever the name Kfar Giladi is mentioned. Despite living in numerous places since then, both in Israel and abroad, when asked “Where are you from?” my answer will always be the same: “Kfar Giladi.”
So imagine how happy I was when the managers of the Kfar Giladi Hotel cordially invited me to visit the place, which was recently renovated.
“Sure, I’ll be glad to come,” I said. After all, this was a great opportunity to go “home.”
Driving through Kiryat Shmona up farther north, past Tel Hai and just above the historic cemetery where the Lion Monument guards the last resting place of the Tel Hai fallen heroes, you enter a piece of the early history of Israel.
Founded in 1916 by members of the Hashomer organization, often referred to as “the grandfather of the Israel Defense Forces,” the kibbutz was one of the first to open a guest house in the 1940s, because living on a hill made agriculture more difficult, and the members were in dire need of a means to support themselves.
Walking into the newly renovated lobby of the Kfar Giladi hotel, I was instantly reminded of the modest guest house, or Beit Hamargoa (the sanatorium) as it was called, which for kibbutz kids was the epitome of luxury. Its VIP guests, who included David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, as well as well-known actors and poets, were a real attraction for us.
While the views are as enchanting as ever, the air as cool and fresh and the water just as pure, much has changed over the years.
The hotel is spread across various buildings, a few of which date back to the early days, set among trees and grassy areas. The modest kibbutz-style guest house has been replaced by new and renovated buildings.
The last major renovation resulted in a few luxury suites and boutique guest rooms. I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in one of them.
Our room was divided into two areas by a partition. It included a large double bedroom and a sitting area furnished with a sofa and an armchair, both of which could be opened into beds. Perfect if you go there with children.
There was a large bathroom equipped with a pampering shower, terrycloth robes and Dead Sea toiletries. A coffee corner, equipped with a kettle and coffee and tea bags, as well as a small fridge to keep food and drink was a nice surprise. We quickly dashed out to the kibbutz’s mini-market and bought a few groceries to put in the refrigerator.
The room was very comfortable and clean, the bed had crisp white sheets, and we loved being able to have coffee outside on the porch.
There is a beautiful outdoor swimming pool next to the hotel, which for me is the best there is. I still remember the excitement as a very young child when the pool was first opened, after many months of work.
Sure, I am biased by the sweet memories of the long summers we spent there, but trying to be as objective as I can, I really think that this pool, set among large grassy areas and offering beautiful views of the Golan and the Hula Valley, is an enchanting place (open only during the summer months and at specific hours).
There is also a large indoor heated pool that is open year round, offering the same stunning views, as well as a spa, sauna, gym and treatment rooms.
But it’s not only the swimming pools that offer great views. Those who are fortunate enough to secure a table by the windows of one of the two dining rooms are treated to sweeping views of the valley below.
As is to be expected, the selection of the breakfast buffet is overwhelming, and the quality is more than satisfying. The buffet includes many egg dishes, cheeses and yogurts, fresh vegetables, cereals, freshly baked breads and cakes, fruit and smoked fish. We saw many parents busily preparing sandwiches for their children “for later.”
Dinner at the kosher hotel included various salads, soups and hearty meat and fish dishes. In short, something for everyone.
If you feel like having a beer or a glass of wine, there is an adjacent bar, where they will pour you a drink or whip up a latte. You can also have a light dairy meal at the bar.
The hotel offers many theme weekends.
The upcoming one on May 8 to 10 is a tribute to Israeli films, with actor-director Yehuda Barkan.
The location of the Kfar Giladi Hotel makes it a great starting point for those touring the Galilee. Indeed, groups of tourists from around the world often stay there.
In the winter, it is Israelis looking for an early start on the ski slopes of Mount Hermon who frequent the hotel. And on holidays, many go there to enjoy a kosher vacation in a relaxing atmosphere.
The Kfar Giladi Hotel offers modern amenities, good food and home-style hospitality, topped with fantastic views and a little Zionism. What more could you ask for? The helpful staff will gladly offer advice about nearby sites of interest, places to eat, hiking and biking routes and more.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
Kfar Giladi Hotel, Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, Upper Galilee For reservations, call (04) 690-0000 http://www.kfar-giladi.co.il/english/