Pastoral Kfar Blum Hotel in the Upper Galilee is celebrating its 20th season of culture and music. The hotel, known for its musical and cultural activities, is presenting an especially fascinating program for hotel guests who enjoy the quality and pampering hospitality.
The Pastoral Hotel has recently been renewed – the suites have been refurbished, the dining room has been renovated, and the spa has been upgraded. Not long ago, a huge opera hall was opened here at the hotel. We came to enjoy the fall at the hotel and its surroundings and to hear about the cultural program for the winter season.
The plan for the 20th season is especially exciting. In December, there will be piano celebrations of the Arthur Rubinstein competition with a Georgian flavor, and a program by Assaf Amdursky. In January, a full weekend is dedicated to the British Kingdom and the royal family; in February, there will be a surprise weekend, the details of which are secret; followed by the Spring Festival, opera, nostalgia and more. Here are the highlights:
December 1-2: Georgia to the tune of the piano: The piano celebrations of the Arthur Rubinstein Competition with Alexander Korsantia and friends under the artistic direction of Ariel Cohen, on a weekend dedicated, outside of the competition, to Georgian music and the piano. Among the works and dances, emphasis will be given to customs, foods, ceremonies and the happy Georgian mood.
December 15-17: Landscapes and melodies with Assaf Amdursky: Assaf Amdursky brings with him the cinema, the stage and his father’s songs, together with Zvi Alter, Corinne Allal, Yehuda & Alon Eder, and other friends.
January 5-7: British Kingdom: The British Isles and the royal house star in a musical weekend that looks behind the scenes of the kingdom, into the humor, the culture, the history and, of course, the favorite sounds.
The Pastoral Hotel spans over a wide area of groomed lawns and consists of two-story buildings. The rooms are spacious, decorated and include all amenities. All have a full bath and balconies that overlook the gardens. The rooms on the ground floor enjoy direct access from the balcony to the lawn, which is a pleasure for families because the children can run around on the lawn while their parents sit and have coffee. During the summer season, the kibbutz pool next to the rooms is open to hotel guests. It is an Olympic-sized pool with a shaded area for the little ones; it also has a cafeteria for light meals.
At Pastoral, emphasis is placed on the culinary. The meals are served in rich buffets. On Shabbat evening, there is a festive meal that is a showcase of chef Ohad Ivgi’s skills, starting with a huge buffet of appetizers and salads and continuing with various ethnic dishes such as gefilte fish and chopped liver alongside stuffed vine leaves and individual tapas dishes. In the main dishes section, there is an outstanding selection of poultry, fish, meats, kubbeh and side dishes such as mejadra, pilaf and couscous. Also, there are active food stands such as an asado stand accompanied by a variety of dips, sauces and small toppings. The food is varied and very delicious.
For dessert, there is hot chocolate soufflé and a yeast cake with nuts, accompanied by crème brûlée and ice cream. However, the highlight is the pastry buffet, which is also a delight to the eye – rows and rows of individual desserts that include petit fours, macaroons and a variety of mini cakes made by pastry chef Nathalie Criden. They are a great attraction at the end of the meal. It seems that the adults, like children, feel like Hansel and Gretel.
Pastoral’s spa is excellent; I already discovered it years ago and used to come here. The spa is small and intimate and its facilities are unique. There is a hammam, a cave of water splashes, an overturning bucket, a feet Jacuzzi and a waterfall device for massaging the shoulders, which was added recently. The spa has two floors; the massage rooms and the relaxation room are on the 2nd floor. The massage therapists here are highly professional. This time I picked an aromatherapy massage that began with the selection of the essential oil composition and continued with dreamlike calmness. They are about to introduce a new menu of house treatments, including a series of seasonal treatments.
Every time I come to Pastoral I am surprised at how great it is. The location here is superb, with easy access to many travel sites. There is so much to do in the hotel and around it – enjoy the lawns, the spa, the cultural program and the wonderful environment – this time we also enjoyed the pool, the nearby kayaking and a trip to the Baniyas waterfall.
The Jordan River is within walking distance with the Kfar Blum Kayaks and the lovely Jordan promenade. Kfar Blum Kayaks offers a number of attractions for the entire family including rafting, a high-trees ropes course, a climbing wall and a zip line to the water. We did the long kayak route and were surprised by the strong water flow during this season; the sail was mostly shaded and it was so pleasant!
The Baniyas Nature Reserve, one of the most popular in the country, is only a 20-minute drive from the hotel. The Baniyas waterfall route is a short beautiful hike over a wooden deck, which is mostly shaded. It is not difficult, but do keep in mind that it requires going up and down stairs and walking on unpaved paths.
When not eating at the hotel, there are many good places to dine. One is Blooma Gallery Café located in the kibbutz and Uma Restaurant at the nearby Gome Junction.
Blooma Gallery Café
We arrived at Blooma on foot straight from the pool. Blooma is also a gallery, packed with paintings, sculptures and more. Everything there is for sale including produce from the area such as cosmetics, olive oil, honey and spreads. But the main reason to come here is the food. The menu is dairy and light, with quiches, salads and, most importantly, pastries made fresh on the premises such as scones and yeast cakes. All the pastries are of the finest quality and residents of the area who know the place come here often to buy pastries for home.
Blooma, Kfar Blum, open Mon.-Sat. 04-694-8769
Uma at Gome Junction
After the kayaking, we needed more than a light meal so we headed to Uma, a well-known culinary establishment. Uma is a new name for two restaurants – a bistro and a sushi bar that were unified into one restaurant with two kitchens. Uma features Galilean produce from the area and fresh fish. We used to dine here when our children were little. They loved their hamburger! You can come and have a good meal here after visiting Agamon Hula or hiking in the area. Everything we ate here was excellent – different starters, steak, veal schnitzel and sushi.
Uma, Gome Junction, Kiryat Shmona, open daily, umarest.co.il, 04-681-7855.
Pastoral Hotel, Kfar Blum, http://www.kfarblum-hotel.co.il, 04-683-6611.
The writer was a guest of the local businesses mentioned in the report.