Adi Pinto started working as a waiter at the Isrotel King Solomon Hotel in Eilat more than 23 years ago as a green high-school graduate. The affable Bat Yam native climbed his way through the ranks, graduating to more lofty positions at other Isrotel hotels in Eilat and Tel Aviv. But it was all prep work for his return three years ago to the King Solomon – this time as general manager.
Maybe it’s having witnessed all the changes to the venerable hotel and to the Red Sea port city over the years, but when Pinto walks around the 450-room establishment, he’s not a manager at work, he’s a host inviting 1,150 guests into his home. And he’s trained his 400-strong staff to behave similarly, creating an environment where small amenities, a cheerful smile and that extra attention to detail make a stay at the hotel a memorable experience.
Built in the mid-1980s, the King Solomon was the first of Eilat’s blockbuster hotels and is still one of the Isrotel chain’s most popular family-centered destinations. According to Pinto, the hotel has retained its desirability in the face of stiff completion from down the boardwalk is due to a concerted effort to keep up with the times, including an extensive face-lift.
“We started remodeling in January 2013, and completely renovated 80 percent of our 450 rooms, and this winter we’ll do the rest,” said Pinto, proudly guiding a guest around the hotel.
Located on the Lagoon waterfront promenade and within short walking distance to the beach, Pinto said that the hotel boasts the service and comfort of the beachfront hotels without having to pay the five-star price. And a two-night stay there recently proved that it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
The rooms are relatively spacious, and they all feature a patio facing the pool and the lagoon. All of the usual amenities are offered, including a luxurious spa, a comfortable business center and ample conference/ meeting rooms.
One of the tightrope tricks that most hotels in Eilat face is how to provide a relaxing and stimulating vacation experience for adults while at the same time catering to the needs of families with children.
At the King Solomon, that dilemma is solved by the new Kids’ Kingdom, a NIS 1 million, 300 square meter veritable children’s paradise, featuring eight activity rooms, including a 3-D cinema with recent quality movies on a rotating schedule, a multimedia room with Play- Station, Wii and Xbox consoles, and a climbing wall and rope ladder that reach Robinson Crusoe’s home.
While the idea is to provide a stimulating and safe environment for young guests while their parents can enjoy the extensive spa and massage options available at the hotel, I imagine that some adults (especially dads) might be as attracted to the hi-tech games as their kids.
Of course, Eilat is all about being outdoors, and right outside the Kids’ Kingdom is the King Solomon’s island-shaped pool complex, with spacious swimming areas available for all ages, including a water slide. Hungry bathers can take advantage of the poolside Chill-Out Snack Bar, a new in-house establishment offering kosher grilled meats, sandwiches and snacks.
However, considering the variety and quantity of kosher food offered in the hotel’s main dining room – both at breakfast and dinner – it’s unlikely that many guests would need that midday boost.
“We are to blame for big Israeli buffets,” said Pinto with smile. “We were first hotel to offer a dinner buffet.”
Indeed, the dining-room buffet, where dinner is prepared nightly for 850, is what you would expect from an Eilat hotel – but with some surprising twists.
In addition to soft drinks and juice, Carlsberg and Tuborg beer are available on tap, as well as red and white wine.
Chefs are busy behind glass counters slicing, dicing, frying and sautéing to produce the freshest possible cuisine
For an extra NIS 70 per person added to half-board rates, guests can dine at one of the two chef’s kosher restaurants in the hotel – the Marina Grill with succulent meat and fish offerings, or Angelina, featuring equally mouthwatering Italian dairy fare. The elegant ambiance, the friendly sit-down service and the relative quiet compared the cacophony endemic to hotel dining rooms; make the restaurants an affordable option.
Between the variety of food options, the nightly entertainment shows (including discount tickets to the Isrotel WOW extravaganza right across the street in the special WOW Theater), the homey rooms and the pool and spa, there is very little reason to leave the hotel.
Which may be a good thing, because the one drawback to the hotel is the parking – once you nab a place, you’re not going to want to vacate it. With a limited number of spaces adjacent to the hotel, and another Isrotel underground parking lot down the street that is usually filled, parking proves to be a challenge.
But once it’s met, you’ll enjoy the cool room air conditioning and the ice-cold beer poolside even more.
The writer was a guest of Isrotel King Solomon Hotel.