Jerusalem hotel to house massive Obama press corps

Behind the Obama visit: Inbal Hotel selected by White House to host largest ever press corps in Israel's history.

View Inbal Hotel (photo credit: Courtesy Inbal Hotel)
View Inbal Hotel
(photo credit: Courtesy Inbal Hotel)
On March 20, Barack Obama will make his first trip to Israel as US president, and traveling with him will be the largest press corps in Israel’s 65-year history. And while it was obvious that the president would stay at the luxurious King David, there remained the question of where the hundreds of reporters, photographers and editors from around the world would be based for the three hectic days of the visit.
After a lengthy inspection process by the White House, the answer is the Inbal hotel. And the competition was tough, Inbal’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Alex Herman told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview.
“It’s a big project,” Herman said. “All the hotels surrounding us were competing for it. A team from the White House came over to Israel, visited each of the hotels in the area, looking at the rooms, views, terraces, facilities, banqueting, to find the best.”
Herman is confident that his hotel can offer the usually demanding press corps with everything they need to do their jobs successfully, and make coverage of the trip run smoothly and efficiently.
Newly renovated, and designed by renowned Israeli architect Yaakov Rechter, the Inbal is ideally situated in Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood, close to the Old City and a stone’s throw from the central bus station. Half of its 283 luxury rooms will be used to host the press corps.
Herman says the main factors in the White House’s decision to use the Inbal were its unlimited free wi-fi, free parking for every guest, and extensive banqueting facilities that will allow for a more modular division of each news team’s work space, giving them more comfort and privacy. “They might consider sleeping in one place, broadcasting in another, and working in a third place. Here they can find everything in one spot."
Herman expressed admiration for the thoroughness of the White House team, which began planning the visit with the hotel six weeks ago. “It was one of the most professional meetings I’ve ever had, facing what seemed like a hundred professional questions, analyzing what would be the best choice.”
Its 20 penthouse suites, of which 10 possess more than 50 square meters of balcony, overlook the Old City. From here, Herman says, the channels that will be broadcasting live from Jerusalem will do their live takes.
Herman believes the Inbal was also asked to host the press corps because of its sumptuous cuisine. As well as being home to Jerusalemite master chef Moti Buchbut, the hotel will also be running 24-hour catering, a key request from the White House team.
In fact, he claims, the Inbal has the best Israeli breakfast of any hotel in Jerusalem, “Israeli breakfast is well known all over the world for its quantity and quality. Here, you can have your Belgian waffle, your omelet, cakes, all kinds of cheeses, and a chef preparing a tailor-made salad for you.”
Obama’s visit almost coincides with the Passover holiday, and the kosher dietary demands that it brings with it. But, says Herman, the hotel is more than capable of rising to the task.
“It’s a challenging week making the hotel kosher for Pesach, especially for a hotel like us, and having it a few days before President Obama visits makes it even more challenging, but we’re facing it and we’ll do it.”