The Western Galilee has no shortage of places to stay. So what is it that makes one spot stand out? I reckon it’s the way they treat their guests.
But given that these establishments are in the hospitality business, which in theory is all about making their clientele feel as welcome as possible, the question remains: how does one business make a name for itself?
For me, after visiting Chan Hagalil this past month, the answer is not just how they treat their visitors, it’s how they treat other people.
Taking the tour of the Beit Ha’emek resort, my host nonchalantly gave me a panoramic view of the resort. On one side there were houses from the adjacent kibbutz neighborhood. On another, there was a community pool. Farmland and meadows surround them to the north, and just over the southern fence lies the Atzulat Beit Ha’emek retirement house.
Given those surroundings and understanding that the hotel is not an island unto itself, management made the decision to ban bonfires and loud music on its premises outdoors.
A small but incredibly significant gesture, and one that epitomizes how the staff at Chan Hagalil takes into consideration everyone it comes in contact with and will do everything it can to accommodate their needs, whether they’re paying guests or not – the environment included.
To merge the words of Solomon and Moses, this gesture gave Chan Hagalil a good name that is better than all of the olive oil the Tribe of Asher has to bathe its feet in.
Another attribute the caravansary offers is inclusivity, which is reflected in the variety of rooms it offers.
Extended families can stay here in the middle of the week or for a weekend event knowing that there is a room for every type of budget and every type of comfort. Grandparents can be pampered in a larger hotel-type suite, while other families can take smaller guest rooms, air-conditioned tents, or even have a very economical holiday and pitch their own tent.
Altogether, there are 32 guest rooms, suitable for a couple and two children, plus six suites, which have two bedrooms and a dining area, two of which are accessible. Each room has a double bed, sofa bed, toilet, shower, refrigerator and TV with a basic Yes subscription.
The design is clean and corresponds with the pastoral and pleasant atmosphere of the complex.
The 12 recently opened family tents, suitable for up to six adults, are air-conditioned, weatherproof (though not suitable for stormy days) and have an airtight floor covered with synthetic grass, allowing for complete privacy. Inside, there are comfortable mattresses, light fixtures and electrical outlets. A one-night stay costs NIS 400 for four people, accommodation only.
Outside the tents, there are spacious grass and shaded seating areas with picnic tables, with spaces set up for barbecues or to cook dinner over a fire in a cast iron pot, along with shower and toilet facilities.
Chan Hagalil is also known for hosting schools throughout the year and is well booked all the way up to the end of 2023. With its massive Bedouin-type shepherd’s tents, which hold up to about 70 people, it can accommodate around 500 pupils, in addition to a school’s educational and support staff.
Deferring nearby Betzet Stream, Keshet Cave and Na’aman Stream to a separate trip, we spent the first part of our short expedition to the North in neighboring Yehiam, training our knights-to-be in the art of the chivalric code at the Teutonic and Ottoman-rebuilt Iudyn Castle/Qal’at Jiddin, and eating cured meat – enough for at least half a year – from the factory store of the kibbutz’s eponymous charcuterie company.
Arriving at the Inn
Upon arriving at the inn, we were greeted not only with wide smiles but also an offer for ice pops. The parents politely refused, but the children, of course, couldn’t resist. And so we got our key and made our way to the room. A word of advice: Keep the children outside when they eat their ice pops. Why have them melt onto the floor in your room when they can melt outside? No worries, a quick mop-up and it’s as if nothing happened.
Soon after, we were given a complimentary dip in the adjacent pool and then made the 20-minute drive to Nahariya to have a look at the country’s northernmost coast during sunset, before taking hold of some local grub.
Breakfast was modest, with only several types of cheeses, fresh salad, eggs, tuna, cut vegetables, pickled cucumbers and olives, yogurt, cereal, breads and juices.
One regret we had was that we couldn’t try out Khan’s cycling tour, as our two to six-year-olds aren’t ready for that. More times than not, our summer vacation takes place during or right after the Tour de France. Not that I can watch more than five minutes of a bike race and even if I wanted to, the kids aren’t exactly supportive when they see a screen without cartoons being played, yet the idea of cycling through the countryside has always been intriguing to me.
On the one hand, riding is fast enough to make some significant kilometrage and on the other hand, it’s not too fast and demanding that you end up missing all the scenery, especially if you’re the one tasked with driving.
Chan Hagalil doesn’t offer a Grand Tour type of route, but its recently unveiled trail between Kibbutz Beit Ha’emek, Netiv Hashayara and Ness Amim looks pastoral enough and challenging enough for a short spell of R&R. It’s suitable for light-to-medium-terrain riding, and lasts about an hour and a half.
The resort’s dedicated bike center offers mountain bikes, helmets and route maps, along with a professional guide for groups of more than 30. Bike rentals are NIS 80 per day.
One last mention of Chan Hagalil’s accommodation needs to be directed to its ODT (outdoor training) workshops, consisting of activities that encourage its participants to take on challenges that require communication, leadership, responsibility and listening, in the midst of nature, which has healing powers and allows for openness and accessibility between participants.
All in all, the hospitality at Chan Hagalil was exceptional, made all the better knowing that the people around it aren’t made to suffer for it.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.