A Desert Oasis

The newly opened Beresheet desert spa is a haven for those seeking luxury and tranquility.

Beresheet desert spa (photo credit: Assaf Pinchok)
Beresheet desert spa
(photo credit: Assaf Pinchok)
Mitzpe Ramon, the quiet, sleepy desert town located on the cliff overlooking the Ramon Crater – the world’s largest crater formed by natural erosion and a spectacular highlight of the Negev – woke up last winter to discover it had become an attraction not only for nature lovers and geology enthusiasts but also for those seeking super luxurious vacations.
David Lewis, president of the Isrotel group, of which Beresheet is a member, said that when the hotel opened, “the name of the hotel, which means ‘Genesis’ in Hebrew, implies a new creation but also reflects an ancient landscape right next to the Ramon Crater.”
The crater is part of a nature reserve of the same name. It is home to a variety of endemic rare animals such as foxes, leopards, gazelles, hyenas and many other species. Despite the desert climate, the Ramon Crater is also home to a rich variety of plant life. According to the hotel’s manager, Sylvie Cohen-Gabay, it is as eco-friendly as possible, and special efforts were made to ensure that the wildlife is not harmed.
Isrotel CEO Lior Raviv said in a recent press conference that building the hotel was not only about making a profit but also about true Zionism: “It took 15 years and NIS 180 million to build the hotel; and although we are a business and not looking to lose money, we are not counting the days for the return on the investment.
Coming here, David Lewis followed [first prime minister David] Ben-Gurion’s vision of building the desert.”
There are 110 rooms and suites located on the property.
Forty-two suites have their own small swimming pools, and others have balconies, all facing the stunning views.
While the not-yet-opened presidential and romantic suites are designed to host royalty, even the “regular” rooms are bigger than most hotel rooms and are equipped with many special features, providing guests with an opportunity to experience the majestic, pristine desert surroundings in the utmost comfort.
The bungalows, most of which have four rooms, are spread across a vast area, allowing for great views and a lot of privacy. Built from local Ramon stone, the buildings blend into the background and are difficult to see from a distance, even when approaching the site by helicopter (as I did), an option offered to guests for a fee.
Since there are no cars driving around (after parking their cars upon arrival, guests either walk or are driven to and from the rooms by electric golf carts), gazelles take advantage of the new oasis and can often be seen grazing on the flowers and trees and drinking from the many pools, much to the guests’ delight and the gardener’s despair.
The restaurant serves mostly organic produce from local farms, wineries and livestock farms. The breakfast display is stunning, and diners have an open buffet and an à la carte menu, serving gourmet Moroccan-influenced delicacies cooked by the hotel’s chef, who is supervised by chef Erez Komorovsky.
The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling glass walls, providing views of the desert, and so have most of the public areas, including the bar, lobby and indoor and outdoor pools. There are many original works of art throughout the hotel grounds, all by renowned Israeli artists who created the pieces for the precise locations in which they are placed.
While the emphasis at Beresheet is on low-key luxury, activity options abound, including a fullservice spa, horseback riding, bicycling and even hot-air balloon and helicopter rides over the crater.
Visitors can also enjoy the rich history of the Ramon Crater and the many ancient sites within its boundaries. The best way to enjoy the crater’s history is to take a guided tour by jeep, on foot or mountain bike, available to guests.
Mitzpe Ramon is about a two-and- a-half-hour drive south from Tel Aviv, and a world apart. At times it feels like the end of the Earth and an oasis for seekers of peace and quiet. Sitting on the vast bar balcony, built over the edge of the cliff and overlooking the stunning desert night view in the middle of June, we asked for blankets, reserved for guests who, like us, forget that desert nights are cold even in the middle of summer. The days are also not as hot as you’d expect, since Mitzpe Ramon is higher in altitude than Jerusalem, making it the perfect summer getaway.
The writer was a guest of the Beresheet Desert Resort.

For reservations and more information, call 1-800-800-808 or go to www.isrotelexclusivecollection.co.il