Puttin’ on the Ritz: A worthwhile stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya

The English word “ritzy” comes from the deluxe Ritz hotel chain, the first hotel of which was opened in Paris in 1898 by Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier, and investor Alfred Beit, a Jewish businessman.

The salad bar at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Herzliya (photo credit: MATHEW SHAW)
The salad bar at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Herzliya
(photo credit: MATHEW SHAW)
A tough assignment, but someone has to do it. Your faithful columnist arrives on a weekday morning at the Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya.
The English word “ritzy” comes from the deluxe Ritz hotel chain, the first hotel of which was opened in Paris, in 1898, by Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier, and investor Alfred Beit, a Jewish businessman. It took until four years ago for Israel to get its first Ritz hotel, the Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya, but the hotel faithfully carries on the chain’s reputation for combining luxury and customer service. Some sources say that Cesar Ritz originated the saying, “The customer is always right.” Personnel are instructed not only to explain how guests can get to the elevators but to accompany them. Each employee has a budget to pamper guests without asking permission. When a bellboy heard a guest bemoaning the tennis racket forgotten at home, he surprised the guest by buying him one.
For those unfamiliar with the city named for Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl in 1924 as an agricultural cooperative, today’s Herzliya is an affluent city, home to many of Israel’s hi-tech companies. If you eavesdrop, you will hear international business deals being negotiated in English behind the wooden-slat dividers that separate the tables in the Herbert Samuel restaurant’s dining room with its view of the Mediterranean. Because of the global crowd, good English is a requirement for staff, many of whom are students at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center nearby. An 18-minute drive from Tel Aviv, the Ritz-Carlton steps back from the city bustle and offers seclusion that is appealing to celebrities and oligarchs. Valet parking is available. Herzliya is Israel’s Riviera, home to a genuine marina where cabin cruisers, yachts and sailboats are docked. Visitors without their own watercrafts can rent one or book a day cruise. The sandy beachfront is a short walk away.
Our deluxe Marina room not only has a stupendous view from the bedroom and balcony, but the double-sink bathroom with a full-sized bathtub has a glass window (with a shade when privacy is desired), so that you can enjoy the boats headed out when you are brushing your teeth. The kingsized bed was very comfortable and it was nice to have it turned down at night with a chocolate and a bottle of water on the nightstand. The cleanliness is at such a high level that even the glass balcony is devoid of a single fingerprint smudge. Another nice touch: In addition to the usual “Do not disturb” sign is one which says “Sabbath Observance,” so that the staff doesn’t disturb the arrangements of lights and belongings that observant Jews set up before Shabbat.
At the swimming pool on the 12th floor, you meet locals and tourists, some with families and their youngsters. Because the hotel offers a wide variety of suites – including duplexes and those with two bedrooms and full kitchens – affluent families seeking deluxe home comforts combined with luxury, purchase or rent such units for longer stays. While the children are taking advantage of the weekend Ritz kids’ club with counselors, mom and dad can make use of the Turkish hamam and the lavender-scented treatment rooms. Massage therapist, Julia, expertly melted my petrified shoulder blades.
The Herbert Samuel restaurant is a modestly sized chef restaurant with a new menu everyday. If you don’t like what’s offered, the chef will create a personalized dinner for you.
We began with the signature Tomato Salad Herbert Samuel, the pedestrian name of which doesn’t express the variety of tomato flavors that could be an advertisement for Israel’s agricultural success. Likewise, we savored Long Eggplant, which is roasted aubergines, truffle cream and a poached egg. We chose the recommended wine of the day – the excellent, full-bodied red Shoresh 2016 from the Tzora winery. The Ritz-Carlton is celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday by focusing on wines from different geographic areas in Israel and holds frequent in-house wine festivals.
After the wine and first courses, we felt unable to order the 500-gram Beef Chateau or lamb chops, which guests around us were eating. Instead we shared spicy Fisherman’s Picci and beef cannelloni – leaving just enough room for a shared Valrhona chocolate bar with chocolate cremeux, and hazelnut ice cream.
The Ritz-Carlton’s breakfast is one of the famous morning eateries in Israel. Served until 10:30 a.m., guests and outsiders share the Herbert Samuel restaurant. A vigorous rooftop morning swim prepared me for this additional dining treat. I started with pancakes-to-order served with real maple syrup, virtuously forgoing the chocolate chips, even though I know that cocoa beans are a fruit. I chose baked salmon from the varieties of fish, and camembert amid the cheeses, opting for whole wheat rolls. My husband did the tasting of the home-baked pastries and particularly liked the chocolate croissants.
Of course, the second most widely traded commodity in the world (after crude oil) is coffee. The brewed coffee that came immediately to the table was a good start, not something to be taken for granted in a hotel. Then came my perfectly decorated, full-bodied cappuccino, just what I needed to ward off the departure blues. Hope to be back. As the song written by Irving Berlin in 1928 goes, “If you’re blue and don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits, puttin’ on the Ritz.” Berlin’s real first name was Israel. The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya is part of the Marriott Hotel chain, and there are various member packages and summer specials that reduce the rack rate, which for our room would have been $695 including breakfast.
The writer was a guest of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Herzliya