On the shores of the Kinneret

Relax at the Lakeview Wellness Center in Tiberias’s Scots Hotel.

On the shores of the Kinneret (photo credit: Courtesy)
On the shores of the Kinneret
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Recently opened, the newest addition to the Scots Hotel in Tiberias is the Lakeview Wellness Center. As part of a growing trend, the luxurious spa center is in a historic building that belongs to the Scottish Church.
The history of the Scots Hotel dates back to the 1880s, when a group of Scottish missionaries, led by Dr. David Watt Torrance, came to the Holy Land to preach and to heal. Torrance built a hos- pital in Tiberias, which served patients from as far away as Damascus. It later became a maternity hospital, serving the population of the Galilee.
In 1959, the hospital’s three buildings were converted into a hostel for pilgrims, and then a modest guest house. In 2004, after an investment of some $16 million, the hos- tel was upgraded and turned into a first-class boutique hotel.
The old buildings were superbly refurbished, retaining the Ottoman feel of the late 19th century, while incorporating some Scottish elements in the furnishings and interiors. Beautiful gar- dens were laid out around the hotel, and today one does not have to be a member of the church or a moth- er-to-be to enjoy sitting in the shade of flowering jacaranda trees and date palms.
Last year the hotel was awarded four and a half stars by the Trip Advisor Internet site. Why not five stars? A half was taken away because, as the site editors said, “a hotel such as this should have a spa.” What they didn’t know was that the management was close to sign- ing the contract with L’Occitane to open the spa center. Part of the reason the negotiations took so long was that both parties wanted to be sure that the place was run according to their strict stan- dards.
Located near the swimming pool, across the road from the hotel on the shore of the Kinneret (with access from the hotel via a pedestrian bridge), the black basalt building was constructed in 1896 as a shelter for orphans of all reli- gions. The top floor housed the class- rooms, and the children lived on the ground floor. In the 1950s, the building became a nursing school for the hospital and later operated as a hostel for pil- grims and volun- teers who had come to work for the church.
A tremendous amount of work was put into preserving the old features and turning it into what it is today. While maintaining the original structure, architect Edna Yishay-Wilson gave the old building a new dimension by mak- ing use of the beautiful dark arches and combining them with pristine white plaster. The doors were adorned with modern features, and the furnishings all have old-world charm.
After their treatments at the spa, patrons are invited to relax in the rest area overlooking the Kinneret, surround- ed by wooden porches, palm trees and magnificent gardens. A huge tree-shaded Jacuzzi, as well as an array of tables and chairs, offer more spots in which to relax.
There are nine treat- ment rooms, all decorat- ed with the basalt stone combined with blue ceramic tiles. There is one double room, a yoga and Pilates room, a Turk- ish hamam, a well- equipped gym and a store that sells L’Occitane products.
L’Occitane was founded in France in 1976. The company offers nat- ural cosmetics, guided by the principles of herbal medicine, and advocates social and eco- logical awareness and responsibility. The two bodies chose to work together because their values are very similar. On the one hand, it is a quality boutique hotel that is run according to very strict standards and has a unique character. On the other hand, there is a cosmetic compa- ny that vows to use only the best, natu- ral ingredients, grown in the fields of Provence. The result is the beautiful three-story Lakeview Wellness Center.
All the treatments offered at the spa were conceptualized according to L’Occi- tane’s guidelines, which are adopted by top hotels worldwide. The staff was accordingly trained by the company’s head of spa, who came to Israel to teach the routines, such as special massage techniques and the signature aromatic oil foot and body massage that is given at the beginning and end of every treat- ment.
Other new features at the Scots Hotel are a library that offers Internet access and Friday afternoon tea.
Twenty of the rooms were upgraded within the last year, offering an interme- diary category class between the stan- dard rooms and the suites.
Treatments at the Lakeview Wellness Center are offered not only to the guests of the Scots Hotel. Visitors to the area, as well as guests of other hotels, are wel- come to spend a few hours of their day at the center.
Prices range from NIS 220 for a 25- minute treatment to NIS 680 for a 90- minute facial. On average, most of the treatments cost about NIS 380.
For more information and reservations, call (04) 671-0719.
The writer was a guest of the hotel