A co­coon of tran­quil­ity at the Ritz

The Jerusalem Post - - TRAVEL TRENDS - r #Z 4)"8/ 30%(&34 (Matthew Shaw) The writer was a guest of the Ritz-Carl­ton. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.ritz­carl­ton.com or call (09) 373-5555. (Matthew Shaw)

Leav­ing the crowded streets, noise, pol­lu­tion and traf­fic of Tel Aviv be­hind, it was with great ex­pec­ta­tions and en­thu­si­asm that I set off with my wife for a week­day mini-va­ca­tion at the Ritz-Carl­ton in Her­zliya.

The first thing we no­ticed about the ho­tel is its su­perb lo­ca­tion. It’s right on the ocean and the views are pretty as­ton­ish­ing.

The lobby is beau­ti­ful, and while there were dozens of peo­ple milling around, the noise level was still very low. Def­i­nitely a peace­ful place to nosh and re­lax for an hour or two af­ter a busy day at the beach.

When we ar­rived, the clerk at the re­cep­tion desk was very friendly and quickly checked us in.

In all, there are 115 guest rooms and 82 suites in the ho­tel. With room rates start­ing at around $700 per night, this is a place to in­dulge and en­joy.

We had the plea­sure of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one of the ex­ec­u­tive suites. When we first en­tered, I was blown away with how spa­cious (70 sq.m.), im­mac­u­late and taste­fully lux­u­ri­ous it was.

I’m not usu­ally a fan of mod­ernist decor, but in this case the de­sign was clean but not cold. Large win­dows re­vealed spec­tac­u­lar views of the sea and ma­rina prom­e­nade. And the suite was out­fit­ted with cen­tral air con­di­tion­ing, a king-size bed, match­ing bathrobes and slip­pers, plenty of fluffy white tow­els and soaps.

There was also a sep­a­rate liv­ing room/din­ing area equipped with a large couch, flat-screen TV, mini-bar, a ket­tle with tea and cof­fee, espresso ma­chine and even a built-in mi­crowave.

The suite also fea­tured a small bal­cony that was big enough to sit and en­joy a bot­tle of wine (thought­fully pro­vided) while gazing out at the sea.

If you’re look­ing to check out from the stresses of your daily life and get in some much-needed R&R, I strongly sug­gest you make an early ap­point­ment for a treat­ment – any treat­ment – at the on-site spa.

Af­ter set­tling into our room, we donned the pro­vided bathrobes and slip­pers and headed down to the lair of magic fin­gers.

Upon ar­rival at the spa, one gets the feel­ing one is about to be ad­dressed as “sir” and po­litely re­quested to con­firm the num­ber of guests at one’s ta­ble be­fore be­ing whisked in­side by the maitre d’ into a high-class restau­rant.

The spa fea­tures an im­pres­sive se­lec­tion of mas­sages and treat­ments. One of its rooms is specif­i­cally de­signed for cou­ples, with two beds side by side. There is also a dry sauna/steam room, a Ham­mam (Turk­ish steam bath) and a re­lax­ation lounge.

My wife and I were met by two masseuses who led us to the treat­ment rooms, where we were left to slip out of our robes and lie face down on the mas­sage ta­bles.

As I closed my eyes and let the sooth­ing mu­sic fill my ears, my masseuse be­gan gen­tly mas­sag­ing my shoul­ders. She was very pro­fes­sional and clearly very ex­pe­ri­enced. I was very im­pressed with how thor­ough and deep the mas­sage was with just the right amount of gen­tle­ness that left me feel­ing like I had got­ten an au­then­tic treat­ment, and not just a “feel nice” back rub. I felt pam­pered and com­pletely re­laxed. It was one of the best mas­sages I’ve ever re­ceived.

There is a clean and spa­cious shower room ad­ja­cent to the treat­ment rooms, where you can wash off the mas­sage oil and change back into your clothes.

Sat­is­fied yet fam­ished, we de­cided to turn in our robes and slip­pers for more for­mal at­tire and teeter down­stairs to take our evening meal at the ho­tel’s restau­rant.

Lo­cated in the lobby, Her­bert Sa­muel takes kosher din­ing to a whole new level. It’s easy to un­der­stand why lo­cals and tourists alike have taken to the place, given the va­ri­ety and ex­cel­lence of its of­fer­ings.

The restau­rant it­self is beau­ti­ful, and I loved the mod­ern decor. The in­te­rior de­sign mas­ter­fully com­bines a long and nar­row space with airy par­ti­tions to give din­ers a sense of pri­vacy. And once seated, the first thing you’re likely to no­tice is that the Her­zliya Ma­rina is in view from ev­ery ta­ble.

An es­pe­cially nice touch is the ac­ces­si­ble view of chef Mor Co­hen and his sous chefs cre­at­ing their culi­nary magic in a very large open kitchen that feels like a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the restau­rant.

The ser­vice was first class. We were im­me­di­ately greeted by our waiter, who an­i­mat­edly talked us through the wine list and the menu.

Af­ter a slew of de­li­cious ap­pe­tiz­ers, in­clud­ing the tomato salad, which is con­sid­ered one of Her­bert Sa­muel’s sig­na­ture dishes, our waiter rec­om­mended his two per­sonal fa­vorites – the potato gnoc­chi and lamb chops. Both were done to per­fec­tion, ten­der and full of fla­vor, with the side dishes an ex­cel­lent ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

Af­ter the meal, we de­cided to call it a night. I‘m very picky about mat­tresses and was pleas­antly sur­prised to dis­cover that this mat­tress was a per­fect bal­ance of firm and feath­ery. The sheets were what you would ex­pect, crisp and soft, and of course, piles of fluffy pil­lows.

In the morn­ing, we headed down­stairs for the buf­fet break­fast, which fea­tured a va­ri­ety of tasty of­fer­ings and came in such co­pi­ous amounts, my wife and I couldn’t fin­ish ev­ery­thing – and we’re both hearty eaters. There were sep­a­rate ar­eas for omelets and eggs, sal­ads, smoked fish, cheese, ce­re­als and pas­tries. Plus we had a fan­tas­tic view of the ma­rina from where we sat.

All in all, we had a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. This ho­tel is truly a home away from home. Ev­ery sin­gle em­ployee was su­per per­son­able, nice and gen­uinely wanted to help make our stay the best it pos­si­bly could be. We can’t wait to stay here again.

THE RE­LAX­ATION ROOM at the spa at the Ritz-Carl­ton in Her­zliya looks out over the sea.

THE LOBBY at the Ritz-Carl­ton in Her­zliya fea­tures mod­ern decor.

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