Eilat: Summer in winter

Various companies have built or are building luxury dwellings in this area, most of them facing the sea.

Eilat 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eilat 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For Jews living in Britain, Canada or the northern part of the United States, Eilat is "summer in winter," with the added advantage of being in Israel. Since it was founded as an urban entity in 1950, Eilat has developed as a resort. Its economy is oriented toward catering for the needs of tourists, both Israelis and those from overseas who want to sample the delights of a resort city on the azure waters of the Red Sea. It has the added attraction of been only a one-hour flight from Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Eilat is a virtual oasis in the middle of a vast desert. It has become Israel's largest tourist center, with about 12,000 of the country's 50,000 hotel rooms. Many of the locals work in the hotel industry, but most of them make a living out of the tourist shops, restaurants and pubs. Eilat's resort orientation has an important bearing on the real estate industry. Residential real estate is divided between the needs of the 60,000 local inhabitants and those who can afford the luxury of a holiday home. "Demand for real estate in our city is high, and I mean demand from local Eilati buyers," Nissim Harosh, manager of the local real estate brokerage firm RE/Max, told The Jerusalem Post. "Demand is greater than supply, and 2,000 new homes are in the process of development. "For example, Perez Bone Hanegev is building a closed compound of 36 residential units - 100-square-meter ground-floor garden apartments and 120-sq.-m. duplexes in the Shahmon neighborhood. The apartments are been marketed from NIS 800,000 to NIS 1,030,000. "Four-room 120-sq.-m. apartments in Eilat sell for an average NIS 750,000, which at today's ridiculous shekel-dollar exchange rate comes to about $200,000. A semi-detached home costs an average NIS 1.2 million, and a 400-sq.-m. plot of land for building a single-family home costs NIS 1.2 million," Harosh said. Most of the local population cannot afford the many holiday homes being built in the city; they are been marketed to overseas customers and local businessmen. The prices of these holiday homes are still being quoted in dollars, and they are very expensive. One of the most favored areas in Eilat for luxury holiday homes is a neighborhood called Ganim Beit, an elevated sloping area of land facing the sea, on the road to Taba. Various development companies have built or are building exclusive luxury dwellings in this area, with most of them facing the sea. The Abgad development company has built a closed estate called Aquarel. It has three-story buildings with ground-floor garden apartments, first-floor terraced apartment and penthouses. They are being sold for $350,000 to $1.8m. Ofer Glazer, a local businessman, has two projects. One of them is called Shahmon. It has two-story buildings with ground-floor garden apartments and penthouses. Each dwelling has its own private swimming pool. The second project is called Hills. It has sloping pyramid-style five-floor buildings. Each apartment has its own large terrace and a private swimming pool. The apartments in Glazer's projects cost $450,000 to $1.2m. Another addition to the Ganim Beit galaxy of spectacular apartments is called Atlantis. It has 14 three-story buildings with two apartments in each. The lower apartment is on the ground floor and half of the first floor. The upper apartment is on the other half of the first floor and the top floor. Ya'acov Atrakhi, general manager of Aura-Israel Investment Company, which is building the project, said his company was playing it safe; the prices are been quoted in euros. The apartments cost €600,000 to €700,000, he said. Atrakhi believes there are buyers for such expensive holiday homes. "Before we started this project, we analyzed the market very carefully," he said. "For the past 10 years, overseas buyers have been acquiring holiday homes in Eilat and they have been paying top prices. At first it was the French who were the main buyers, but now it is the Americans and British."