Taly's Travel: Relax and eat in style

The Nea Hotel & Resort: A perfect retreat in the western Galilee.

THE NEA Hotel & Resort features restored buildings that once belonged to the Histadrut (photo credit: GIDEON LEVIN)
THE NEA Hotel & Resort features restored buildings that once belonged to the Histadrut
(photo credit: GIDEON LEVIN)
Nea is a charming resort hotel in the western Galilee. It is situated in the pastoral village of Shavei Zion, just a few steps from a beautiful beach. The hotel brings an urban chic that blends into the tranquil rural setting of northern Israel.
The name Nea was decided upon when a remnant of a Byzantine church with the writing “Nea” on it was discovered nearby while the construction was in process. This archeological site is located near the beach just a few steps from the hotel and one can explore it on the way to the beach.
Nea was built on the abandoned buildings of a convalescent home of the Histadrut (workers organization). The restoration preserved the original buildings and structures, but transformed them into a stylish hotel. It features three sections – the main hotel, the spa section and the villas. The hotel is family-friendly, but the spa section is adult only and comes with complimentary entrance to the spa facilities and the heated pool. The new vibe can be felt once entering the hotel. The blue façade leads directly to the bar; this is where the reception resides, and the check-in came with a welcome drink. The lobby and reception are located here. It is also connected to the restaurant. The décor is contemporary with retro midcentury-style furniture (mostly in the rooms), which has a lot of character. It features elements of sea with artifacts such as orange life buoys, ship models, etc. The main building has the shades of blue, the villas azure and the spa green.
Nea has a total of 74 rooms in three buildings. All the rooms have a stylish clean finish with wooden floor, white bath tiles and balconies, even though in the main buildings the balconies are very small and just enough for a couple to sit on and enjoy a drink. All rooms are equipped to pamper the guests – including a rain shower in the bathroom, the Israeli-known Sabon toiletries, terry towels and bath robes, climate control, WIFI, cable TV, espresso machine, minibar, safe and hairdryer.
The most unique part of the hotel is the villas. They have the appeal of the Hamptons! These villas are spacious and each has a private deck with a heated current pool. They are over 40 meters in size and include a separate area for up to three children.
The Western Galilee offers many attractions, but many of the people who come to Nea (us included) come here to relax – to enjoy the pools, spa, beach and gardens. The beach is only a few steps away from Nea. The hotel offers complimentary bikes, which we took advantage of. We cycled around the small rural settlement of Shavei Zion and on the beach. The beach has a comfortable swimming area as well as a beautiful rocky area, which is more common in this area of the Mediterranean. Even though it was mid October when we stayed there, we could bathe in the sea, which wasn’t too cold.
The hotel has two main pools. A larger, all-family pool, partially shaded and with complimentary cabanas and the spa pool. The spa pool is located in the spa area and is smaller, but heated. There is also a Watsu pool.
The hotel is surrounded by greenery. Garden furniture and hammocks are scattered around the hotel’s green lawns and decks. We enjoyed relaxing here with a glass of Chardonnay.
We also found some really nice spots for the perfect Instagram photos. During weekends and seasons, it is a gathering place for friends and families.
The restaurant of Nea is in the heart of the hotel. It is where people meet. It is intimate; its style is like EatWith, much of the sitting area is long tables that encourage interaction between guests. The food is served to the tables so that no effort and running around is needed, and one can enjoy the meal while sitting back.
The food is kosher-Mediterranean – made by Chef Shlomi Hachum – and is served like a mini-buffet in wooden box trays. Each party receives their own food tray. And when I say “tray,” don’t let that mislead you. It is stylish gourmet food. Dinner was a three-course meal. The first was a tray full of starters like whole roasted sweet potato in almond and pistachio tehina and dates honey, herbs tabbouleh, a cherry tomato salad, roasted eggplant with tehina and lentils, tehina with whole chickpeas and chimichurri and beans.
Each starter was served differently – in pan-like plates, jars, and bowls in different sizes and heights. For example, the green salad was served as a flowerpot and the dressing in a tube. Everything was delicious, even the bread!
The main course was smoked meat and was also served in a tray to our table. It included ribs, baby chicken, roasted potato and vegetables and rice. There was an option for a fish plate, which, being full, we passed up on. Dessert was surprisingly tasty considering that the restaurant is kosher and that it was non-dairy (parve).
Breakfast was served similarly – a tray of salads and starters and an egg by order. We were particularly amused when the waiter rolled to us a cheese buffet fridge (which included Camembert, Gouda and other cheeses) and offered us cheeses.
In summary, Nea is a perfect place for a relaxing retreat!
Nea Hotel, Haela 4 Shavei Zion, www.nea.co.il, Tel: (04) 995-8888. The author was a guest of the hotel.