Dream Island is a fantasy come true

After spending a considerable amount on renovations, the resort opened in an untimely fashion, just before the pandemic hit the world, in 2020.

 THE BACKYARD of the Jasper suite. (photo credit: URI ACKERMAN)
THE BACKYARD of the Jasper suite.
(photo credit: URI ACKERMAN)

Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree?

Annie Lennox might have been referring to Dream Island. Although not physically an island, the relatively new spa resort is surely a standalone oasis of relaxation and luxury, disconnected from the bustling world around it.

Situated on 60 dunams (about the size of seven soccer pitches) of land on the edge of Kibbutz Sde Yoav, located between Kiryat Gat and Ashkelon, Dream Island is on the site of the former Hamei Yoav (Yoav Hot Springs).

After spending a considerable amount on renovations, the resort opened in an untimely fashion, just before the pandemic hit the world, in 2020. Naturally, it closed and reopened intermittently over the next two years before pressing full steam ahead, this past April.

Apparently, the whole country has heard of it because the humungous parking area had hundreds of cars in it when we arrived one morning, last month. The bulk of the upscale resort’s clientele is day dwellers who are flocking to sample the sensual delicacies the resort has to offer.

 PARTAKING OF the sushi food truck, available all day.  (credit: DAVID BRINN) PARTAKING OF the sushi food truck, available all day. (credit: DAVID BRINN)

They pay a flat fee (in the NIS 850 range) for a 12-hour (9 a.m.–9 p.m.) open house of all the facilities, both therapeutic and culinary. And they are many - like six - different spacious pools with various bubbly pleasures, as well as a large outdoor pool that is always heated to the perfect swimming temperature, even when the air outside is nippy.

Then there are the saunas, steam rooms, a Turkish bath and for an extra fee, massages and treatments.

However, what elevates Dream Island to a must-visit destination are the 26 private, overnight VIP boutique suites – a resort within a resort if you will. Equipped with a separate entrance and reception area (conveniently located right next to a soft ice cream food truck), the suites are elevated around the pools by private lanes accessed only by cardholders.

I’ve never stayed at the famed Carmel Spa or Cramim in the Jerusalem hills, or the other luxurious spa resorts in the country but I can’t imagine they can top the comfort, spaciousness and sheer perfection the suites provide.

Each one (in the NIS 2,500 range for a couple per night) is equipped with a backyard that includes an outdoor Jacuzzi, a private wooden sauna and for some suites, your own mini-pool.

It makes it very tempting to never leave your room because everything you could want is at your fingertips. But then you’d be missing out on all of the other attractions that the day patrons are making use of. But fear not, the palatial grounds are so spacious that it still feels like you’re on your own.

Nooks and crannies abound with bountiful shanti hanging swings, cabanas and benches to provide some meditative privacy, not to mention a delightfully tranquil and expansive man-made lake for strolling around in a round loop.

What food is offered at Dream Island?

IF ALL that relaxation makes you hungry, as it does, there are so many options available (everything is kosher) to satiate any appetite. Somewhat like those luxurious pre-wedding hors d’oeuvre stations, Dream Island features food carts offering everything from freshly made sushi and knafeh to barbecued hot dogs, salads and on-tap beer – as much as you want and all included in the day fee.

But it’s best to save room for dinner at the upscale meat restaurant on the premises, called Armonim. World-class service and gourmet offerings, like salmon and chestnut gnocchi, or baked assado pastry, make this an unforgettable eating experience. The restaurant is also open to the public and is apparently the go-to place for special events for residents of the Kiryat Gat/Ashkelon area. The aged entrecote steak I enjoyed explained everything. Sublime.

Almost as good is that there are no prices on the menus for guests staying in the suites, as it’s included in the price.

The breakfast – served for guests also at Armonim – is on par with any I’ve ever had at an Israeli hotel. It featured the usual array of salads, cheeses and salted fish, including cured gravlax. Wait staff come and take your order from the made-to-order egg menu, and I can unequivocally recommend the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.

But man does not live by food alone. During the renovations, before Dream Island opened, remains of a Byzantine settlement with an impressive wine press were excavated on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Right next to the site, a wine-tasting center was established, offering guests a sampling of various tasty wines. You just need to sign up for the hour you want to go.

Interestingly, virtually all of the signs, information pages and menus at the resort are only in Hebrew. A resort representative explained that until now, the focus has been on domestic tourism. Indeed, virtually everyone staying there with us was a Hebrew speaker.

But it’s a crime to keep the charms of Dream Island from tourists and English-speaking Israelis, who are also in need of some shanti peace and quiet. The staff said that English signage was in the works.

Whether you come for a long day or splurge for a suite, you’ll leave rejuvenated, relaxed and like you woke from... well... a sweet dream.

For more information, visit: https://www.dream-island.co.il

The writer was a guest of the resort.