A Dead Sea vacation has become more than just relaxing and floating; there are new exciting things to do, such as a kayak tour to sinkholes, swimming in a recently renovated beach and promenade, or having a hearty meal at the Steakhouse.
Isrotel Dead Sea
We were based at the Isrotel Dead Sea five stars hotel. The hotel has excellent service and plenty of facilities. Isrotel Dead Sea has nearly 300 rooms and suites with balconies facing the beach and sea and is equipped with all modern amenities (large flat screen TVs, WIFI, safe, etc.). The rooms are perfectly insulated and quiet, the bathroom has strong water flow and we had plenty of towels. We pampered ourselves with the Israeli quality Laline toiletries and switched to the hotel’s uniform – swimsuit and bathrobe!
The hotel’s recreational facilities are a paradise. There are two outdoor swimming pools and a kiddie’s pool, and plenty of sun beds and cabanas. The Esprit spa is the more interesting part, especially with the winter approaching. In addition to fitness center equipped with state-of-the-art treadmills and workout equipment, there is a spacious heated indoors Dead Sea mineral pool, sulfur pools and a huge hot-tub. The mineral pool has an outdoor extension; it is a real treat to float there looking at the sky! And of course, no such vacation is whole without a spa treatment. Esprit offers a variety of body and face treatments. I picked Aromatherapy treatment. The massage was superb – the therapist used almond oil with a hint of plant oil of my choice. She was very professional and included some reflexology, which I enjoyed a lot; very relaxing! The hotel also has a rooftop solarium, separated into women’s and men’s sections, and a children’s club.
Before exploring the nearby beach, we decided to grab a bite. The guests of floors 7 to 9 enjoy complimentary entrance to the Moav lounge, where drinks and refreshments are served all day long. This included cold and warm drinks, and sweet and savory snacks, which we took advantage of. Our stay included also a VIP breakfast that is served at the restaurant and there is seating indoors and at the garden. While the regular breakfast is generous and includes a variety of salads, breads, cheeses, eggs, warm dishes, and sweet treats, the VIP breakfast is more upscale and guests enjoy a quiet atmosphere and better service. The buffet is more compact and more luxurious (e.g., expensive cheeses). After filling our plates, the waiter brought to our table eggs to order, orange juice and a cappuccino. This is a delightful way to start the day!
With a full stomach, it was time to explore the beach! Isrotel Dead Sea is located in front of one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dead Sea area. Before leaving the hotel grounds, we stopped at the lower level to get some Dead Sea mud sold at the gift shop.
Ein Bokek Beach
Ein Bokek beach was recently renovated and besides looking beautiful, it is very convenient and has dressing rooms, showers and lifeguard service. A four-km.-long promenade stretches along it with easy access decks and paths into the water (otherwise, the seabed is covered with salt and can be painful to step on it). It is accessible for people with disabilities and along it there are children’s playgrounds and sports facilities. All we had to do is grab chairs for our stuff, swim, float, cover ourselves with mud and take a selfie! The promenade is illuminated at night and it is highly recommended to take a walk at sunset or in the evening and do some shopping in the new stores that are now being opened next to it.
Meat & Grill Restaurant
Traditionally, a vacation at the Dead Sea included the hotel dining room or a light meal at the lobby, but this is no longer the case since there are more interesting options now.
The Ranch House Meat & Grill Restaurant at Isrotel Dead Sea hotel is a kosher authentic American-style steakhouse. The menu at the restaurant is not wide; it includes five starters, including salads, soup, and a descent number of meat dishes such as fillet of beef, Entrecote, sirloin, hamburger, chicken and even one type of fish. There are also children’s meals.
We ate a salad, beef soup “Goulash” and beef filet. The salad and bread were fine, the soup was excellent, but no doubt the crown goes to the filet. It was served accurately medium (as we asked) on a hot plate with rolled blooming onion, garlic confit and roasted pepper. The meat was so tender and tasty, and together with the sauces, it was delicious (I had the wine jus, and my partner picked the pepper sauce).
The Ranch House offers a variety of Israeli wines. We picked red wines from the local Yatir Winery: Har Amasa and Yatir Forest (both from 2015), which were superb!
Overall, this is a good option for some fine dining in a place with limited dining options. Guests staying on half-board basis can upgrade their meal and have it at the Ranch House.
Kayak Tour of the Dead Sea
One of the newest and most exciting attractions in the Dead Sea is the kayak tour. It is a window to glimpse unique natural phenomena, including walls of white mineral deposits, sinkholes, springs, mud and salt crystals. The tour includes explanations about the natural phenomena and ecology, recent trends and a discussion of the ideas for rehabilitating the Dead Sea. This is a tourist attraction but also a study journey that comes with knowledge and experiences. And it’s also fun – rowing a kayak, bathing and floating in the Dead Sea, and rolling in the mud.
Kayaking at the Dead Sea sounds like an oxymoron, but when you think about it, open sea kayaking is in salty water, so why not row in the mineral water? The advantage of a kayak or boat trip is that it reaches places that are not usually accessible from land.
Ofer Shmuelfeld took us on this interesting journey while explaining about the history, geography and ecology of this area. Our first stop was near a mineral wall. The Dead Sea is comprised of a saturated solution of many minerals and it deposits a layer of solid minerals on the bottom. Over the years, it formed a thick layer of minerals and mud. When the water level dropped, the walls were exposed – and they are beautiful with white and grey lines and shapes.
Another interesting phenomenon caused by the water-level drop is the sinkholes. When the water level drops, fresh water penetrates the soil, melts the minerals and sweeps away the mud. This results in a collapse of the soil and creates a small crater that is often filled with water – a sinkhole. This was our next stop; we peddled above an underwater sinkhole and stopped near a sinkhole full of mud for a swim and to roll in the mud.
The last stop was to see a spring (fresh water, lots of mud) and dig ‘diamonds.’ Not real diamonds, that is, they are cooking salt (sodium chloride) crystals and they are beautiful. On the way, we observed additional natural phenomena and heard more about the water level drop (1.5m/year!) and paddled back to the starting point – I only then realized how far we peddled. It’s not a big effort, but for those who won’t peddle, there are also ‘regular’ boat tours available.
Prices for small groups (up to 10 people) start at NIS 195.
Kayak Tours, Ofer Shmuelfeld, Phone: 050-865-0705, kayaktours.co.il
The author was a guest of Isrotel Dead Sea hotel and the sites mentioned in the article.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>