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(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the turbulent world of chic dining, it is hard to earn an international reputation of excellence, let alone keep it for nearly 15 years. But that is what Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has done. Now, after rising to the top of one aspect in the hospitality world, Chef Nobu has set his sights on another, luxury hotels and residences. And for the company's first location he has passed on New York, London and Paris; instead, he has chosen Herzliya.
Since the restaurant Nobu first opened in New York City in 1994, The Nobu Hospitality Group, made up of Nobu, actor Robert De Niro, producer Meir Teper, and managing partner Richie Notar, has created a global dining empire that stretches from Los Angeles, New York, Milan to Hong Kong and attracts the world's most prestigious clientele.
It is against this backdrop that the name Nobu comes to Herzliya.
Nestled on the Mediterranean coast of the Herzliya Marina, the Nobu Hotel and Residences is aiming to redefine luxury in Israel and beyond. The 225 rooms, including 12 penthouses and nine duplexes, will derive their inspiration from the ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.
Nobu explains. "[The ryokan] combines the impeccable attention to detail characteristic of Japanese hospitality with modern amenities and sophisticated luxuries. It is our intention to infuse this innovative design with immaculate service."
He adds that the choice of Herzliya for the group's first location was easy.
"The serenity of Herzliya and its proximity to the vibrant city of Tel Aviv makes it the perfect destination for the Nobu Hotel and Residences."
Set to open in the summer of 2010, the Nobu Hotel and Residences will feature Israel's first Nobu restaurant, for which residence owners will retain priority reservation status. Residence owners will also be able to boast another of other luxuries, like a private member's club and a personalized concierge service, in-home spa services and a separate entrance.
Residences will have multiple terraces overlooking the Mediterranean, signature furniture and handcrafted finishings with a state-of-the-art kitchen and top-end appliances and technology throughout.
Even if one is not an owner, there is no plan to reduce the level of luxury. The property, with its dramatic entry and lobby, landscaped and custom-designed pool with private cabanas, intimate Nobu Spa, private shopping services, and yacht for its guests, is preparing to outdo Tel Aviv's beachfront hotels when it comes to luxury hospitality.
Danny Rubinstein, who leads the Marina Resort management company and is helping to bring Nobu to Israel, does not believe they will even be in competition with Tel Aviv's hotel industry.
"We're building a very upmarket product like the Grammersy Park in New York, very boutique, like Soho Club in London," he says. "It's going to be very different."
In addition to Rubinstein, the Nobu Hospitality Group has also partnered with Israeli leaders in the field of real estate, architecture, design and hospitality to ensure its proper understanding of the Israeli market and; thereby, its success. Development is being led by real-estate development firm, the Tidhar Group, which, in 2007 it became the first construction company in Israel to be awarded the Yitzhak Rabin award for excellence in quality.
The architecture and interior design is being headed by David Rockwell and Rockwell Group, an award-winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice that has been partnered with Nobu for almost 15 years. Rockwell has teamed up with Israeli architect Rani Ziss for Nobu in Herzliya.
With the stakes being set so high, Rubinstein believes the group's biggest challenge is going to be to live up to its reputation.
"Our main concern is to undersell and over deliver," he says. "We have to make sure to deliver the product, whether it's the hotel residence, the Nobu restaurant, or the spa, to a new standard, to a new quality that Israel doesn't know."
Rubinstein, whose past successes in the Israeli hotel industry include the Isrotel chain, while willing to admit the challenge, is confident Nobu will succeed. And while he does not foresee any competition in the near future, he hopes the market will expand. Luxury hotels and condominiums require competition, Rubinstein says.
"It always keeps you on your toes," he adds.
Until then, people searching for modern, Japanese-inspired luxury on Israel's Mediterranean coast, whether for long-term investment or a short getaway, can look forward to having at least one place to visit.
And Nobul also promises to bring a new word to Herzliya's coastline: Arigato.