The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/travel -

IS­RAEL’S PRES­I­DENT, Shi­mon Peres, who can turn a phrase or two, turned to his hosts with a huge smile. “This,” he de­clared, “is the Taj Ma­hal of the Negev.” Since the Taj Ma­hal i s fa­mously Shah Je­han’s ar­chi­tec­tural dec­la­ra­tion of love to his wife, the pres­i­dent might have ex­ag­ger­ated slightly. But David Lewis’s magnificent new ho­tel, the Beresheet, is cer­tainly a love letter to the Negev desert, and though it has only been open since Pesach, it seems likely that the em­brace will be whole­heart­edly re­cip­ro­cated.

It’s more than 20 years since the Brit-



WHERE TO STAY: TOURS: My Wine Tours of­fer spe­cial­ist Negev tours ish hote­lier was in­vited by Is­raeli lead­ers to help open up the Negev, ful­fill­ing David Ben-Gu­rion’s fa­mous dream of mak­ing the desert bloom. But Is­ro­tel, David Lewis’s com­pany that built the Beresheet, would read­ily ad­mit it has not been plain sail­ing.

Not the least of the dif­fi­culty in open­ing the ho­tel, whose name means “Be­gin­nings”, was op­po­si­tion from Is­rael’s Green lobby, anx­ious that it would bring all sorts of en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems to the area.

In fact the fa­ther and son team who de­signed the ho­tel, Ye­huda and Yoel Fagin, have achieved some­thing re­ally spe­cial. It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to see Beresheet from the main road,

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