On the Sea of Galilee's waterfront

The Setai Sea of Galilee Hotel blends boutique sophistication and elegant pampering on the shores of the Kinneret.

View of Lake Kinneret from Road 789 (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
View of Lake Kinneret from Road 789
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Arriving at the newly opened Setai Sea of Galilee situated on the eastern shore of Israel’s Great Lake, I left my bags in the car trunk, entered the reception hall and gawked through the glass doors at the gorgeous “infinity” pool and the Kinneret beyond. I was greeted with chilled white wine and dates served by the impeccably dressed staff, comprised of a youthful and multi-lingual group of Israelis eager to please.
Upon accepting the blatant reality that I had died and gone to heaven, I checked in and went back outside, where a driver took my bags and me on a golf cart to my villa. The short ride took me on a wide path bordered with aromatic shrubs and fruit-laden trees, such as mangos and tangerines, from which guests are welcome to pick. More than 700 palm trees tower over the resort and it is particularly enjoyable to listen to them gently rustling in the cool summer night breeze while having drinks on the patio.
The hotel’s accommodations are arranged in twofloored blocks of villas. My ground floor villa had a spectacularly open and modern design, a superking- sized bed and a massive bathroom with both a “rainfall” shower and a large bathtub. The living room seating faces a large smart TV that can stream anything from a phone or tablet (perfect for Netflix and Chill!). There is free Wi-Fi throughout the resort, and free international calls.
Service at the site is extraordinary. I was pleasantly surprised upon returning to the room later in the day to find my shirts folded neatly on the bedroom bench and my normally tangled USB cords on the nightstand wrapped up neatly in a bow. I want to find that maid and marry her.
Opening the glass sliding door to the villa’s private balcony and “infinity” pool, I took a dip with the Kinneret laid out before me. The second-floor villas have wooden hot tubs instead of pools, but the private pools are also heated in the winter, so it’s a win-win.
The villas connect to standard rooms (which are by no means standard), so you can bring your kids along and forget about them at the same time. The hotel is certainly kid friendly, with a children’s activity room and a wading pool. There was word of a fun game of Twister taking place for children and parents.
Making use of one of the hotel bicycles that guests can use free of charge to get around the resort or ride up and down the beach path, I rode over to the lobby bar for lunch. It’s a beautiful space with an outdoor patio – as well as a big wood stove in the center, perfect for the winter months. I ordered an ice-cold mojito from the bar and had some delicious fish tacos.
Later the hotel’s restaurant featured huge buffets and a responsive wait staff. For dinner, I pointed at some choice entrecote filets and lamb ribs that were then thrown on the grill in front of me and brought to my table. The staff guided me in picking from a wide selection of wines, particularly from Galilee and Golan Heights wineries. Breakfast the next morning was just as scrumptious.
In the afternoon, I visited the hotel’s spa for a deep-tissue massage. The ground floor offers a Jacuzzi replete with built-in lounge chairs, so you can lie down comfortably in the water while hot jets caress your entire body. There’s a gym open 24/7 with treadmills that have Bluetooth-enabled Internet-connected touch screens. Upstairs one will find a Turkish bath and a dozen treatment rooms for individuals and couples.
Each room has heated and adjustable beds and a private shower.
My massage was quite relaxing, though I honestly don’t remember the second half after I fell into a blissful stupor. The spa’s menu of treatments is quite long.
There are all manner of massage styles to choose from, body wraps, hot stone therapy, reflexology, aromatherapy and even well-deserved massages for women with a bun in the oven.
In short, the Setai is a truly luxurious oasis far exceeding Israeli standards, where you can leave all your worries behind and let yourself be thoroughly pampered. The cost of a stay there may seem prohibitive for some, but you most certainly get what you pay for. So even though it’s perfectly located for all manner of activities available in the Galilee and the Golan, I suggest that after you check in to the hotel, you “check out” from everything else.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.