‘Girls just want to have fun'

What does a female-focused holiday entail?

STEAMY PLEASURE: Turkish baths provide soothing relaxation, cleansing and purifying detox benefits.  (photo credit: AVITAL ELIRAN)
STEAMY PLEASURE: Turkish baths provide soothing relaxation, cleansing and purifying detox benefits.
(photo credit: AVITAL ELIRAN)
It began with wild bachelorette parties where women would pack a bathing suit and show up with lots of good spirit and energy to have fun with their girlfriends. They would either go down to Eilat or rent a villa in the Galilee and leave behind their worries about family and work. Over time, this girls’ holiday trend gained popularity and hotels began catering to groups of women booking these special women-only groups. Galilion Hotel, located in the Upper Galilee, organizes special midweek sessions it calls VIP-connected vacations.
Basically, this type of vacation is suitable for all women no matter where they are from. You can go with your BFF (best friend forever), mother, daughter, sisters – or even just with friends from work for a fun girls’ trip. What does a female-focused holiday entail? Good food and desserts, facials and massages in the hotel spa, relaxing in a Turkish bath, a personal grooming kit awaiting you in your hotel room, wine and lounging at the pool. This indulgence will cost you only NIS 990 per person, so it’s not so exorbitant, especially if you’re enjoying the company of your favorite female buddy 24/7.
So I jumped in my car, swung by to pick up my BFF, and off we zoomed toward northern Israel. While listening to loud, rhythmic music, we fantasized about what it would be like once we got to the hotel. There’s something extremely liberating about girls’ vacations. Despite widespread beliefs, it doesn’t even need to include shopping. Just the thought of having hours and hours to hang out and have long, unencumbered discussions was so exciting. But we still had a while to drive on our trek north, and so we decided to enjoy the landscape, stop for a nice meal, and see what fun activities we could find along the way.
We weren’t really in the mood for a long hike, but we did want to get out into nature a little, so we stopped at Arbel Nature Reserve, where we enjoyed a spectacular view of Lake Kinneret. Many people stand below the mountain, look up and exclaim how impressive the Arbel looks, but if you take the time to climb up it and then look out over the valley, you really begin to appreciate Israeli geography. We were lucky in that we happened to be there on a day when air quality was great and visibility was extremely good, so we were able to see all the way to Mount Hermon.
We were feeling incredibly lazy, but if you’re looking for a challenge, there are a number of trails you can take in the Arbel Nature Reserve. You can start at the top of the cliff and climb down toward the ancient fortress directly below. The fortress site includes several huge connecting caves that have water storage pits and a few hidden passageways.
After our stop at Arbel, we got back in the car and continued on our way to the Galilion Hotel, located right at the turnoff for the Hula Valley on Route 90. The hotel has 120 rooms and the grounds encompass more than eight hectares. The Galilion opened its doors to the public just over a year ago and it is the only hotel in the region known for its abundance of bed-and-breakfasts.
The Galilion complex includes a large building that wraps around the pool. The rooms overlook the valley; the modern spa includes a Turkish bath, treatment rooms and beautician’s room and the conference center is available for large groups. The hotel also sports a charming wine room where workshops and wine tastings are held for guests. In addition, the hotel offers rides in a hot-air balloon that rises to a height of 120 meters off the ground, enabling you to look out at a magnificent view of the mountains and valley below.
We were excited to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The balloon trip lasts 15 minutes and costs NIS 70, and was actually much more pleasant and relaxing than I expected it to be. We were very lucky to have exceptional visibility, and I imagine that when the skies are filled with birds, such as cranes, storks and pelicans that are migrating over Israel, it must be an incredible sight.
When we touched back down to the ground, we decided it was time to do some serious relaxing, so we headed back to the room, donned our bathing suits and set out for the pool area. But before we left the room, we noticed the goodies that had been left for us in the room – a bottle of wine, a gift box from Sabon, and a list of activities, including our scheduled massages.
We stayed at Galilion in the middle of the week, so there weren’t noisy kids and angry parents at the pool. We spent the next few hours sipping our drinks and engaging in serious gossip at the side of the pool.
Next, we decided to explore the spa. We started in the Turkish bath. After five minutes in the steaming mist, we parted ways, each to our scheduled massage. We had Swedish massages and then a facial, and finished our time in the spa with a ball of tangy sorbet, which was much nicer than the plastic disposable cup of cold water I’m used to being offered after a massage. I recommend coming for a treatment at Galilion even if you’re not staying overnight in the hotel.
By the time we finished at the spa and had showered and dressed, our stomachs were rumbling, which was just fine since it was dinnertime. So we went off in search of the hotel’s dining hall. I’m not usually a big fan of hotel food, but this meal was incredibly tasty. We had our dessert in the wine room, with a nice glass of wine, as we sat and listened to the live music being played in the courtyard. In short, we had a fantastic day.
As you can probably gather from my above description, I’m quite a fan of girls’ holidays. So if you have a BFF or sister with whom you think you’d have a nice time, I strongly recommend taking such a trip. Of course, there are dozens of other activities you can partake in throughout the region, such as rafting, ATV tours and horseback riding, and if you do feel like doing a little shopping along the way, there are a number of cute boutiques in nearby Rosh Pina.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.