Israel has so much to offer, but where do you begin if you are first making your way into selling this popular destination? To help boost your sales to this magnificent country, we’ve put together a short list of top-notch Israel-based travel providers and superb hotels.
- Martin Stein, CEO & founder of Travis, says that his company works with travel advisors from across the U.S. and guarantees that he provides “life-changing experiences. We match the tour guide to the group.” The themes your clients can choose from range from active & adventure—think arriving at Masada at the crack of dawn ready to hike the challenging “snake path” climb up the mountain—to family travel, where one of the activities can be participating in an archaeological dig at the bottom of the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. Stein says that for the family groups, it’s important that the children are happy, because “if they are happy, everyone is happy,” so working with just the right local travel provider to create the perfect itinerary is of utmost importance. For more information on Travis, visit travis-israel.com.
- Wholesaler IGT, one of the three biggest travel providers in Israel working with travel agents, welcomes 55,000 tourists a year, and they have, says Yoram Black, director of Holy Land Tours for IGT, “power with hotels. We can give agents very affordable quotes.” Their trips are all customized and, he emphasizes, they never bypass travel agents. IGT serves Christian and Jewish groups, and creates tours for Family/FIT groups. For the family groups, IGT focuses on creating fun-filled memories such as paragliding excursions, treasure hunts that make the country’s history and culture come alive, and a lantern tour at Nimrod Fortress National Park, among others. For more information on IGT, visit igt.co.il.
- Other travel providers include Touring Israel (touringisrael.com), which specializes in luxury private tours; Yael Group (go-yael.com), creating customized tours that range from Jewish Heritage Tours to its Israel: Start-Up Nation itinerary, focusing on the country’s technological advances; and Keshet Educational Journeys (keshetjourneys.com), which works with universities, and can create everything from culinary/wine and medical to agricultural tours. Marnix van Ede, international sales & marketing for the company, says that travel agents can request a theme and they’ll work with them to create the perfect itinerary.
Hotels We Recommend
- The Jaffa Tel Aviv has been praised as a new “what’s hot” since it opened its doors last August. Part of Marriott’s The Luxury Collection, the 120-room property marries a historic building with a modern wing to create a divine six-star sanctuary. The historic building operated as a French hospital in the 19th century and when they started construction on the new wing of the hotel, they discovered part of the 13th century Crusader wall that had once protected Jaffa from invaders. In addition to its stunning history, the hotel boasts an $8 million art collection—including Damien Hirst pieces—throughout the new wing, and there’s no art in the historic building, says Lindy Ganon, the hotel’s incoming sales manager, because the building speaks for itself. The latter houses 40 rooms, with guestrooms featuring high ceilings and arched windows; recommend the 1-bedroom Royal Suite for clients with deep pockets as it offers views of the city and the Med. Ganon says this historic wing is usually first choice for Americans. The new wing houses 80 guestrooms, with the fourth and fifth floor rooms offering sea views. All rooms are spacious, and offer smart room technology, illy espresso machine, 300-count cotton sheets, and other high-end amenities. The signature Jaffa scent follows guests as they walk through the hotel’s hallowed halls, although perhaps the most sacred place of all on-property is the French hospital’s chapel turned lounge—known simply as The Chapel, the space pays homage to its origins with quirky art, menus and server outfits. There’s also a spa with four treatment rooms, including one for a couple, and a hammam; a heated pool; a NY-style deli, Golda’s delicatessen; and the Don Camilo restaurant, which puts out one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever been privy to. For more information, visit thejaffahotel.com.
- Head to the Dead Sea, and you’ll want to recommend the rooms with a view at Herods Dead Sea, with its traditional spa, with its array of room types, including the Executive Garden (with Pool) Room, featuring a large sun deck and private access to jacuzzi pool and gardens, plus VIP package, including free entrance to Vitalis spa and business lounge. Or, you can recommend the Junior Suite, with glorious views of the Dead Sea, and that aforementioned VIP package. For more information, visit herods-hotels.com/herods-hotels/herods-dead-sea.
- Other properties we love include the 30-room and -suite Brown TLV Urban Hotel, with a seasonal garden, rooftop bars, spa, and rooftop sundeck with an open-air jacuzzi overlooking the city; and the 40-room Poli House, housed in one of Tel Aviv’s iconic 1930s Bauhaus building, and featuring one of the city’s most lavish rooftop terraces with an infinity pool, a trendy rooftop bar and a spa. For more information, visit brownhotels.com.
- Of course, there’s also The Drisco Tel Aviv, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), featuring 37 rooms, five suites, a chef restaurant, a la carte spa treatments, a rooftop, and a lobby bar lounge; and with its main house built in the mid-19th century on the ruins of an older Ottoman-style building, the 92-room and –suite American Colony Hotel Jerusalem is another LHW member that features an array of restaurants and bars, including the famed Cellar Bar. For more information, visit lhw.com.