From Gadera to Hadera is an often–used description of Israel’s cosmopolitan center but how many of us are regular visitors to either of those cities?
I was delighted to receive an invitation to the Resort Hotel Hadera, which is now under the management of the Jacob Hotels. This spa hotel has a lot to offer: located on the Mediterranean’s beautiful Benyamin Bay, a first-rate spa, a large indoor swimming pool plus an outdoor pool and beach access in the summer. And for those of us averse to hours on the road, it’s conveniently located half-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa with plenty of outdoor parking.
My 18-year-old granddaughter Oriya, who is spending a post-high school, pre-army year, volunteering in the Jewish community of Chicago, was on home leave and she happily joined her even happier grandmother on this February trip to Hadera.
Hadera was founded in 1891. Before that, the handful of residents raised water buffalos and papyrus. Today, Hadera is a growing city of more than 100,000 residents, with a large water desalinization plant and power station. Tall apartment buildings are rising in the northern part of the city perpendicular to the coast and they lead us to the hotel. Benjamin Bay, in Hebrew, Mifratz Binyamin, is named after Zionist philanthropist Benjamin Rothschild, who anchored his ship in the bay during one of his visits to Israel. Picturesque rock formations abut the sandy beach.
During the pandemic, the Jacob Hotel Chain took over the hotel, which used to be a Ramada hotel. It’s a newcomer to Israel. Named for the father of the owner, the chain includes five Israeli hotels and has invested more than a hundred million shekels in upgrading them, a process which isn’t quite done.
Oriya and I arrived midday, after a 90-minute drive from Jerusalem, and enjoyed a light lunch at the hotel’s bright outdoor cafe with its wide variety of breakfast choices, pizzas, bruschetta and excellent coffee.
A fast elevator lifted us to the 19th floor. When we opened the door – always a moment of anticipation – we let out simultaneous wows. The glass wall towards the Mediterranean dominated the luxurious bedroom combined with a living room, a comfy large sofa, a dining area with table for four and dishes, a mini fridge, and tea and coffee provisions. The pine wooden flooring and many mirrors make the 35 meter room look even bigger.
The spacious and modern black and white bathroom has a row of hooks for bathing suits and robes in the oversized rainfall shower. Best is the eight meter balcony towards the sea. Although we were treated to this luxurious Premium Suites, every room in the hotel has this view and the standard rooms are even larger.
Activities at the hotel
We scheduled our first-ever granddaughter-grandmother double massage and decided to swim beforehand. Large indoor pools are not common in Israel and this one is large and tiled in pretty multicolors. The water was pleasantly heated, not too hot and not too cold.
TO OUR surprise, a young friend from Boston and her family turned out to be staying in the hotel and met us in the pool. They were using the Resort as a base for touring and visiting family and were heading for a day trip on the Orange Trail.
I wasn’t certain I would like having a massage in the same room as my granddaughter but I did. The massage room was beautifully set up with two separate massage tables, flowers in the middle, andthe scent of orange blossoms and lavender. The two women masseuses were both excellent and worked quietly so that we could enjoy the soft music and the perfect touch. They were obviously well-educated and talented professionals, not a sure-thing at hotels where “spa” is sometimes an inaccurate description of facilities. We were invited to relax with herbal tea and snacks in the spa, post massage but were drawn back to the chairs on our balcony with its view of winter waves and seagulls.
We squeezed in some time in the late afternoon to go shopping at the nearby Mul HaYam outdoor mall – somewhat reminiscent of an American outlet mall in its ambiance but with the familiar Israeli retail stores. Outside the mall is a cluster of kosher restaurants that we noted for a future time. We would have our dinner in the hotel.
Oriya has been eating American food since September and missed Israeli cuisine. Here was classic Israel: orange soup and a mezza of salads, including tabouli, Moroccan carrot salad and lentils – all fresh , well-seasoned but not overly dressed. There was schnitzel, the default choice no matter what for the many Israeli children who were at dinner and who preferred it to the menu’s salmon, chicken and roast beef. Desert was an oversized bowl of fresh fruit supplementing chocolate cake and mousse.
The dining room is very large, bright and colorful. The other guests were Israeli families – many religious – and a group of Christian tourists from abroad.
Good that we swam again before breakfast because waiting was a five-star feast, including blintzes, knafe, a range of salads with a particularly good celery salad, all the appealing cheeses and herring.
Coming in winter, with such a peaceful and unhurried atmosphere, I couldn’t ascertain what it would be like in Israeli high season when the beach and large outdoor pool are open. But because the hotel is so conveniently located, I’ll probably stop by to see.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.