Face of Ei­lat tourism mourned

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

DAVID LEWIS, the An­glo-Jewish en­trepeneur who turned Ei­lat into an in­ter­na­tional hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, died at his Lon­don home on Tues­day aged 87.

His Is­ro­tel group, which brought five-star lux­ury to the desert re­sort with the open­ing of the King Solomon’s Palace in 1984, now owns a dozen ho­tels and spas across Is­rael.

Rafi Shalev, di­rec­tor of the Is­rael Gov­ern­ment Tourist Of­fice in Lon­don, said: “He was one of the lead­ers and main con­trib­u­tors to the de­vel­op­ment of travel to Is­rael, es­pe­cially Ei­lat. He had the fore­sight to see what could be done in a far-away place. It is a great loss for us.”

Last year Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Ron Prosor said that Mr Lewis had “rev­o­lu­tionised Is­raeli tourism”. He was speak­ing at a tribute din­ner which raised £450,000 for one of the busi­ness­man’s favourite char­i­ties, the Sch­nei­der Chil- dren’s Hos­pi­tal Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Is­rael.

Two years ago Ei­lat named a new prom­e­nade af­ter him in a cer­e­mony where the town’s mayor said its res­i­dents “sep­a­rate their his­tory into preLewis and post-Lewis chap­ters”.

Mr Lewis opened a womenswear store in Hack­ney in 1948 and went on to found the Chelsea Girl bou­tique chain, now River Is­land. He was awarded the CBE in 1995. Ear­lier this year, he cel­e­brated his di­a­mond an­niver­sary with his wife Ruth.

PHOTO: FLASH 90

David Lewis in char­ac­ter­is­tic pose on the bal­cony of his flag­ship Ei­lat ho­tel, the Royal Beach, in 2002

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