With a world-class spa, excellent dining options, rooftop solarium, large swimming pool and private seaside promenade, the newly renovated Daniel Hotel at the Dead Sea sounds good on paper. After a brief visit, I can safely say that it’s just as good in real life, if not better.Part of the exclusive Tamares chain of hotels that includes the Daniel in Herzliya Pituah, this luxury hotel was just what the doctor ordered for a midweek getaway.This summer, the hotel launched a new concept, taking the idea of relaxation to a whole new level. By offering a range of workshops and activities at no extra cost, the hotel allows guests to enjoy a relaxing vacation while putting an emphasis on health. The workshops and activities on offer range from healthy eating discussions to bike rides through the desert. Guests are invited to take advantage of as many of these options as they want, depending on their interests and activity level.I visited the hotel with a group of six other journalists, and the moment we walked through the doors of the impressive building, we were greeted by manager Lior Haimovich. While his welcome was professional and solid, he was also very relaxed and emphasized the fact that he wanted us to enjoy ourselves. And that we did.After lunch in the executive lounge on the top floor, I was shown to my room by the friendly staff. The VIP room was more than satisfactory, complete with complimentary fruit and wine, as well as luxury spa products. Even the flowers in the bathroom were real; a rare treat from the artificial ones often found in hotels. The only complaint would have to be that once climbing over the bed that was big enough for six people and brushing past the huge wide-screen television, there was no balcony onto which to step out and enjoy the desert sun. The impressive view of the Dead Sea from the window, however, did help me get over this disappointment somewhat.After a glass of wine, it was time to slip into the hotel’s white robe and slippers and head down to the Shizen Spa for some typical Dead Sea treatments. Occupying two levels, the spa is comprised of a range of pools, Jacuzzis and saunas, as well as a number of treatment rooms. Despite a few embarrassing moments involving a pair of disposable underwear that were mistaken for a shower cap, the “Renewal” mud wrap and salt peeling treatment (NIS 340) was extremely relaxing. The only complaint about the spa is that the steam room was somewhat dated and in need of some serious renovation.In places such as the Dead Sea, once you’ve finished relaxing, there’s not much more to do other than relax some more. After the spa treatments, it was time to check out the large outdoor pool area, complete with snack bar. The pool area is what you would expect from a large luxury hotel, with an area covered by synthetic grass. This was the location for the yoga class – one of the many health-inspired workshops the hotel offers its guests free of charge. Being a yoga novice, I was happy that the instructor gave a relatively easy class that didn’t involve too much exertion on the part of the participants.All the stress of running between the spa, swimming pool and yoga was rather tiring, so it was back to the room for a quick nap in the comfy bed before a private dinner in the VIP restaurant with the manager and his senior staff. In keeping with the hotel’s health theme, the meal was fresh and light. The young chef explained that he makes an effort to provide top-quality food that won’t leave people feeling unhealthy.Feeling full but not stuffed after dinner, the group of journalists welcomed the announcement that the management had organized a candle-lit evening at the spa, complete with treatments. So it was back up to the rooms to change into those white robes again and down to the spa, where we were greeted by a team of masseuses and spa staff to enjoy the spa in all its glory. While the Swedish back massage was of a high standard, it was the water shiatsu treatment that was the highlight of the whole stay. A relatively new form of treatment, water shiatsu is performed in only a few places in Israel, and Haimovich is very proud that his hotel is able to offer it. And rightly so.The private spa treatment left me feeling overly relaxed, so there was only one option – to go back to my spacious room and take advantage of the oversize bed and all the channels available on the television.Breakfast the next morning was served in the VIP restaurant and included all the regular hot and cold choices that are usually on offer at large Israeli hotels. It’s worth noting that in an attempt to offer so many luxury options, the simple things in life sometimes get overlooked. When I noticed that there was no cold water available to drink, my request for a simple glass of H2O was greeted with great shock and took almost five minutes to be fulfilled.With breakfast over, my 24 hours in paradise ended. I made my way back to the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv a more relaxed man, happy in the knowledge that the Dead Sea and the Daniel Hotel by Tamares, with its spa and other facilities, were less than a two-hour drive away.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
The Tamares Daniel Dead Sea Hotel, Ein Bokek. Tel: (08) 668-9999.