By JEREMY LAST
Dudi Ettedgi had always aspired to move to the countryside and open up a chic getaway in the north of Israel, where couples can set aside their troubles, swim and gaze out across miles of beautiful countryside.
In May 2008, the 34-year-old from Kiryat Yam finally found what he considered the perfect location, a plot on the edge of Ein Ya'acov, 10 minutes from Ma'alot in western Galilee.
Ettedgi took six months off of work and dedicated himself to building three luxury suites, an outdoor hot tub and a small swimming pool at the foot of his new home. With the help of a building team the "tzimmer" was already up and running by December.
And what a job he has done. Chateau Prestige is the embodiment of relaxation, sporting extravagance deserving of any special occasion.
We arrived at Ein Ya'acov as it was getting dark in the late afternoon, having picked up our Chevrolet Aveo from Best Car Rentals in Talpiot, Jerusalem, that morning. The three-hour journey was made a bit easier due to the convenience of not having had to go into the center of town to hire a car.
Taking the sharp left into the moshav and driving round the perimeter we finally found ourselves outside the Chateau.
It felt like a totally different world from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem we had left behind.
Ettedgi met us at the entrance and gave us a quick tour of the facilities, and the view - both the pool and hot tub sit on a viewpoint which juts out of the hillside, allowing guests to chill out while enjoying the stunning landscape.
The pool isn't open during the winter months, but the hot tub is available all year round.
When we entered our room we were struck by the attention to detail. Not only was there a plasma television hanging from the ceiling, but also a DVD player and a selection of movies to watch, if desired.
Each of the three suites is decorated in a different style. Our room featured curtains in calming shades of beige and an array of comfy chairs next to the large window.
The kitchenette included a full set of cutlery, an espresso maker (the use of which Ettedgi handily demonstrated), and even a small electric burner and saucepans in case guests decide to make themselves a meal.
The bathroom has two sinks and there are two showers in the single cubicle, giving couples ample space to pamper themselves in style.
And then, of course, there is the Jacuzzi, a large tub where guests can let their concerns slip away while enjoying the complimentary bottle of wine.
The quiet and calm atmosphere of Galilee is contagious, and Chateau Prestige only accentuates this.
This is a romantic vacation spot created for true indulgence, with a full menu of relaxing massages and treatments on offer, including four hands massage and a hot stone treatment. Prices are not for every pocket, though, with a room running NIS 800 a night during the week and NIS 1,100 on the weekend.
There isn't a lot to do in the evening in the immediate area besides going out to one of a few eateries within a short drive's distance away, although once you arrive at Chateau Prestige it's unlikely you will want to do much more than relax.
During the day, however, Western Galilee is full of walking tours and various other activities including ATV rides and horseback riding. Brochures providing useful information about these options were handily available in the suite's chest of drawers.
After a short dip in the Jacuzzi we drove out to Ma'alot for a bite to eat in the excellent Hadarale French restaurant before turning in for the night (see box).
Although we had been warned of the incredible views, we were still surprised by the beauty of the scene which greeted us the next morning. It truly was breathtaking.
We had arranged for breakfast to be brought to the room at 9:30 and it came right on time.
The meal was typical of those offered in Israeli cottages, including an array of cheeses and bread, omelets, jams and fresh juices - healthy and tasty.
As we sat on the veranda enjoying our morning coffee the wife and I agreed this had been one of the better short stay vacations we had experienced.
Unfortunately our busy timetable meant we didn't have time to try out the outdoor hot tub, but it looked just as inviting as the mini swimming pool, and we made a mental note to make sure we have an extra hour or two next time we are in Ein Ya'acov.
The writer was a guest of Chateau Prestige.
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