Going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land doesn’t mean you have to stay in a stable. Catering to the rich and famous, including celebrities like Sharon Stone and Donna Karan, Mizpe Hayamim (“Lake View” in English) is Israel’s most luxurious hotel, spa and organic restaurant located on Mount Canaan between the mystical city of Safed and the picturesque art town of Rosh Pina.
Mizpe Hayamim (Karen wrote about the organic restaurant and hotel earlier this summer) is a perfect base from which to explore the Galilee region, biblical lore and a healthy organic lifestyle while enjoying total pampering. Local health-conscious celebrities visit in abundance as well, with guests including Israel’s top politicians, models, singers, actors and doctors.
Local pop stars like Shlomo Artzi and even Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (before he took office) have stayed at the hotel, says sales manager Adi Kaplan. She won’t reveal the names of additional VIP guests: “We have to protect their privacy, but I can tell you that we had a lot of celebrities here last weekend.”
Book early for a room at the organic inn
Mizpe Hayamim, which has incredible views of the Sea of Galilee, Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights, gives new meaning to the words “luxury” and “green.” Its two organic restaurants (one meat and one vegetarian) provide meals with ingredients from the hotel’s private gardens and farm.
With 96 rooms, there may not always be availability at this inn, says Kaplan, so it’s advised to book early – even months or a year in advance. Rooms start at about $600 a night for a couple, for the standard room, which includes meals in the hotel’s organic restaurant and one treatment at the spa. “You can book by the Internet site and we are often booked – almost fully… but we have a place almost all of the time,” Kaplan says.
Catering to those in a high “social economic class because of the prices” she notes, a stay in the exclusive resort is out of reach for most people, but could be a worthwhile investment for the experience. The age range tends to be about 40 and over, and if price isn’t an issue, Kaplan advises booking a junior or regular suite, each decorated exquisitely and uniquely.
What’s most enthralling about Mizpe Hayamim is its holistic and authentic approach to giving its guests the best nature has to offer. Beyond the pampering health spa and beauty treatment center are the lovely indoor facilities and the pools and garden where streams trickle and plants from biblical times spring to life. If eating local and organic is important to you, you won’t find a better hotel in Israel.
A unique experience of flavors and textures
Grounds include the hotel’s own herb and vegetable garden, olive grove, fruit trees, winery and animal farm for meat and cheese that guests may visit. A stay at the hotel/spa includes hikes on the grounds, and workshops in art and learning from the land. Mizpe Hayamim models its approach on the values of the French Relais & Chateaux organization, of which it is a member.
“In contrast to conventional farming there is no maximizing of our milk production at the expense of our herds, and our animals are treated differently than in regular farming,” say hotel staff, noting that compost and animal manure are used to fertilize the grounds of the hotel’s gardens and orchards.
Free of poisonous pesticides, hormones and herbicides, the hotel gardens sprout a wide diversity of plants and the gardeners rotate the crops regularly to prevent pest infestation and disease.
All this organic and sustainable goodness feeds into the hotel’s two restaurants. Brought in daily from the organic farm, expect a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs grown on the premises, while oils and herbs from the grounds are made into relaxing spa treatments or homemade candles and soaps.
A story that stretches way back
Founded in 1984, Mizpe Haymamim was built on an existing structure and a story that began in 1923. The area of Safed is rich in history from the time of the creation of the state and reaching back to earlier times, when it was home to mystical Jewish sages known for their writings about Kabala.
In 1923, a German immigrant named Dr. Yaros was passing the very spot where the hotel stands today, when he suddenly asked his driver to stop. He was on a mountain halfway between Safed and Rosh Pina and he felt that it was there, in that exact location, where he should build a sanitarium for his patients. His dream was realized in 1966 with the help of Yehezkel Rosenberg, a Bauhaus architect from Tel Aviv.
Situated near Rosh Pina, home to numerous artists, Mizpe Hayamim seems to attract and inspire the arts in others. The hotel houses an art gallery that showcases pottery, sculpture, jewellery and paintings. Guests may create their own art and artisan candles.
Located on the eastern slopes of Mount Canaan at an altitude of 570 meters, Mizpe Hayamim is one of those places you’d never find while venturing out on your own. Despite grounds that cover expansive acres of walking paths and fruit groves, it is barely noticeable from the road that winds up to the hotel’s wooded area and gated path.
While it may be a well-kept secret for the rich and famous in Israel and from abroad, regular folks can certainly stop by for a meal at one of the two organic restaurants. And that might just inspire you to linger a little longer in the Galilee region.
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(This story first appeared on ISRAEL21c – www.israel21c.org)