Heaven on earth at Mitzpe Hayamim

Today, there are 97 rooms and more than 200 employees. Still, more than 30 years after Hazan bought it, the hotel is known for its simplicity and peacefulness.

Mitzpe Hayamim (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Mitzpe Hayamim
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
For years, I’ve been hearing people gush about their trips to Mitzpe Hayamim. But since I’m the type of person who can’t sit still for more than five minutes, the idea of being holed up at a health spa seemed suffocating to me.
It’s been a few years since I’ve thought about Mitzpe Hayamim, and I’ve grown up a little – some would say I’ve also become a bit more bourgeois. Suddenly, the idea of having a luxurious and relaxing vacation sounded amazing.
So after driving for two hours (including a stop for fast food), we finally reached what can only be described as heaven on earth.
The hotel, established in 1966 by Dr. Erich Jacob Yaros, resembles a farm for the wealthy, since in addition to the hotel’s main building, there are about 15 hectares (37 acres) of natural forest, a cowshed, a dairy, goats, endless pastures and an organic farm where fruits and vegetables are grown for use at the hotel’s restaurants.
There are also two stores on the grounds, one of which sells a variety of cheeses prepared on-site and organic vegetables grown on the farm. More than 40 types of cheeses are produced from goat’s and cow’s milk at Mitzpe Hayamim; soft and hard cheeses are served in the hotel’s restaurant and sold in the shop.
The second store offers soaps and other souvenirs, all of which are produced on-site.
Yaros, who arrived in Palestine in 1920 with his wife and children, believed he could cure people of their ailments using herbal treatments. He dreamed of creating a 12-room resort where he could help the sick recuperate, offering each person the individual attention they needed.
His in-laws purchased the secluded land on the rocky hillside between Rosh Pina and Safed in the 1930s, and Yaros and his wife finally opened the hotel in the 1960s. In 1982, Sami Hazan bought Mitzpe Hayamim from the Yaros family. He too believed that the trees, the view of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the clean air were good for one’s soul.
Hazan studied at Mikve Israel, Israel’s first agricultural school, which is where he learned to love trees and agriculture; he is carrying out Yaros’s vision for Mitzpe Hayamim as he continues to work the hard, rocky soil.
Indeed, Yaros felt a strong connection with Hazan and, as a result, happily sold Hazan his hotel and land – knowing he would carry on his vision. But Hazan has made so many improvements to the hotel over the years that it is now considered one of the classiest resorts in the country.
Today, there are 97 rooms and more than 200 employees.
Still, more than 30 years after Hazan bought it, the hotel is known for its simplicity and peacefulness (guests must be over the age of 10).
This feeling washes over you as you approach the hotel, on a road that winds up the mountain. The hotel blocks the view from outsiders who might try to peek in.
Most of the rooms are located in the main stone structure, but some are scattered around the grounds in additional buildings added later on; each room was uniquely designed by Sami’s talented wife, Anita Hazan. There is a charming lobby in the main building, as well as a library from which guests can check out books.
At the hotel’s famous spa, guests can choose from a wide range of health treatments and massages, during which they will enjoy the amazing scents and textures of creams and oils produced on-site. Sitting on top of the building are an indoor pool and a huge outdoor jacuzzi, overlooking the valley.
The first thing I noticed when I reached the suites and rooms in the old brick building was the spaciousness.
All rooms have spectacular natural light and look out over the beautiful surroundings, which you can see from both the gigantic bathtub and the luxurious four-poster bed. Each room is equipped with antique-style wardrobes, which add to the welcoming and homey atmosphere.
And just like any upscale resort in Europe, Mitzpe Hayamim is very serious about traditional tea time: At 4 p.m. sharp in the lobby, guests are treated to cakes and herbal teas. But if you don’t feel like going downstairs, you can enjoy the fruit and homemade cookies arranged in each room.
Guests quickly find out that food is one of the most important aspects of their enjoyment at the hotel – as soon as they sit down to partake in a typical breakfast.
There is a slew of cheeses and pastries, fresh salads and organic juices. One can actually taste the freshness and feel how the local farmers cultivate their fields with love.
And in an effort to really show visitors just how much effort the farmers put into growing organic vegetables, they take guests on a tour of the farm. During the twohour tour, guests learn about the different bird species that live in the old trees, watch the black swan sunning itself as it glides through the pond, and get to watch the animals that live on the farm, including peacocks, chickens, cows and sheep.
But even if you miss the guided tour, the signage on the farm is excellent and you can easily take your own private walking tour of the farm and the natural surroundings.
Location: Rosh Pina
Price per night: Starting at NIS 1,590 per couple midweek, and NIS 2,150 per couple on weekends
Muscat Restaurant
Nestled into the hill just next to the hotel lies the noless- famous Muscat Restaurant.
The gourmet meat restaurant is built from Galilee stone and designed in the antique European style, and has a large balcony overlooking over the valley. Under the direction of young and talented chef Roee Dekel, Muscat offers meat dishes that incorporate fresh produce grown on-site.
People come to dine at Muscat from all over the country, and hotel guests are welcome to eat there, too (for an additional fee). The menu includes European- and Mediterranean- style cuisine, but you won’t be served any simple eggplant dishes here. Muscat specializes in carpaccio, ceviche, gnocchi, tortellini, spare ribs and steak.
Cost: Dinner for two, including a bottle of good wine, is around NIS 500. 
Translated by Hannah Hochner.