Travel - A hacienda in the forest

A family visit to Acre and the Galilee.

August 25, 2019 05:21
4 minute read.
THE HACIENDA FOREST View Hotel in the Galilee – gorgeous views and green forests.

THE HACIENDA FOREST View Hotel in the Galilee – gorgeous views and green forests. . (photo credit: Courtesy)

My family and I live in Jerusalem, and we love to vacation in Eilat, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea.

This year, however, we decided to try something new, and so we set out for the green pastures of the North.

By the time we reached Acre on our drive north, we’d all become a bit hungry and so we decided to stop for a bite to eat and a visit to the Old City, which is full of interesting historical discoveries. We headed first to a local seafood restaurant called Mina, which is situated right on the beach at the Acre Port and has an incredible view of the blue water and the city’s ancient walls.

Owners Nader Div and Samir Hatar have transformed Mina into an extremely successful enterprise. A lawyer by training, Div has managed to channel his passion for food and creativity into professional success in this extremely competitive industry.

Together with the head chef, Div has put together an incredible menu using only local produce and products. Meals at Mina begin with a variety of specialty salads, such as smoked tahini, labaneh with garlic, and a pomegranate seed salad. Mina’s seafood dishes are of course the restaurant’s flagship items, including a fresh catch of the day served with spicy goat cheese labaneh, shrimps with artichokes and balsamic vinegar cream, and sashimi and steak. Some of their most famous dishes, which are popular from the days the restaurant was still located in Nazareth, are kebab skewers, calamari, and mussels in pepper sauce.

But one of the aspects that sets Mina apart from other eateries is the impeccable service provided. The staff are gracious, work efficiently and always have a smile on their faces. There’s room to seat 120 people inside and another 130 on the two balconies, making it a fantastic venue for a private party.

Mina Restaurant, Hahaganah St. 2, Old Acre, 04-628-9115. Open Sunday-Saturday, noon to midnight. Not kosher.

AFTER WE’D finished our wonderful meal, we continued on toward the Hacienda Forest View Hotel in the Galilee, located between Kfar Vradim and Ma’alot. When you come onto the property of the hotel, you feel like you’ve entered an old Spanish estate. There are expansive lawns dotted with beautiful wooden chalets and manicured gardens, which give a feeling of quiet peacefulness. Guests are welcome to meander through the grounds and relax on the many hammocks and benches located under large shady trees. There’s also a cute little duck pond, a fabulous mini-golf course, a large swimming pool with a snack bar, and a huge chess board.

The hotel has 160 guest rooms located in three-story structures, all of which have gorgeous views of the surrounding green forest area. There are many types of rooms at a large range of prices. There are Premium Rooms and also Spa Rooms with Jacuzzis, rooms with balconies, as well as larger rooms that are appropriate for families. In addition, there are four new modern boutique guest rooms, which boast wooden decks that lead out to a country garden with stunning view of the surroundings.

The main attraction at the Hacienda is the hotel’s incredible spa, which offers quality treatments in rooms overlooking a soothing landscape. There’s a gym, a reflexology room, heated pools, a Jacuzzi, wet and dry saunas, and an authentic Turkish hammam.

In addition, there is plenty of organized entertainment and activities geared toward the kids at Hacienda. There’s a Kids’ Club full of toys, a ball pool, an arts and crafts corner, and board games for a variety of ages. The staff working in the Kids’ Club are congenial and really want your children to have a good time. You might also enjoy a pony ride, petting the giant tortoise, and engaging with the exotic snakes. Outside in the grass area, kids can create huge soap bubbles, jump in the moon-bounce, join a drum circle or participate in a cooking workshop.

Every evening there are performances geared towards the whole family.

The hotel boasts two restaurants: one in the lobby that offers three light meals every day, and The Hacienda, which some evenings serves BBQ meals out on the green lawns picnic style. Prices of rooms range from NIS 1,000-1,420 per night for double occupancy.

Hacienda Forest View Hotel, Eshkolot St. 1, Ma’alot-Tarshiha. Phone: 04-957-9000 or 03-919-0669.

NEAR THE HOTEL, guests can enjoy hiking trails and attractions such as the Achziv Beach National Park, the Bahá’í Gardens, Rosh Hanikra, the Keshet Cave and the Acre Fortress.

After we’d packed up our bags and left the hotel, we decided to try out one more restaurant in the Upper Galilee region, which is slated to open at the end of August. Chateau du Roi is located inside a 400-year-old Crusader building that sits 1,000 meters above sea level.

Salma and Laviv Asaf, from Mi’ilya, opened up the restaurant, which Salma valiantly continued to run on her own after her husband died. The venue will hold up to 300 people in the interior and the balconies. While the building was being renovated, ancient wine presses were uncovered, which turn out to be the largest Crusader-era wine presses ever discovered in the Middle East. Visitors can view the wine presses when they dine at the restaurant.

Phone: 077-729-5934 or 072-393-4539
The writer was a guest of the hotel
Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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