Farm Fresh, Deluxe

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is a bucolic gem

By: By Yvonne Michie Horn

The Details

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is located 112 miles from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, midway between the artist colony of Rosh Pinna and the historical city of Zefat. Clients who arrive at Ben Gurion may want to take a 15-minute cab ride to Sde Dov Airport where Arkia Israel Airlines operates daily scheduled flights between Tel Aviv and Mahanayim airfield in Rosh Pinna.

Rates at Hotel Mizpe Hayamim average $520 per night, based on double occupancy with breakfast and lunch or dinner in The Organic Kitchen included. Many scheduled activities are at no additional cost. Children ages 10 and older are welcomed. It is best to book spa treatments in advance of arrival.

Other Israeli Spas
Karov La-Teva Treatment and Workshop Center, Vared Haglil Guest Farm

While the Vared Haglil Guest Farm’s specialty is horse-riding — including lessons, equine events and ponies for children — it also specializes in expert spa treatments and massages through its spa. The property is located near the Sea of Galilee outside the city of Rosh Pinna. A bed and breakfast stay averages $138 per night, based on double occupancy.

Carmel Forest Spa Resort
This 126 room-property with spa is located in the Carmel Forest, a nature preserve about an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv near Haifa. Two pools, a fitness center, an on-site nutritionist, as well as all manner of massages and beauty treatments are available. Guests must be at least 16 years old. The average stay rate per night, based on double occupancy, is $425 per night.

Only Online

Scroll down for more information on Hotel Mizpe Hayamim and other Israeli spas

The unmistakable fragrance of eau de dairy farm wafting through the tree-shaded courtyard greeted my arrival at Hotel Mizpe Hayamim, a 37-acre oasis in the hills above the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The nose-wrinkling fragrance was surprise number one. Surprise number two came as I stepped into a lobby filled with guests lounging about in robes and slippers. Surprise number three necessitated a quick return to the courtyard entry to check the plaque by the front door.

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is located near the artist colony of Rosh Pinna. // (c) Hotel Mizpe Hayamim
Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is located near the artist colony of Rosh Pinna.

Yes, Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is indeed a Relais & Chateaux property. In fact, it is the prestigious label’s sole Israel listing and, undoubtedly, one of its most unusual. The Relais & Chateaux label is based on the deliverance of five "Cs:" courtesy, charm, character, calm and cuisine. All are to be found at Hotel Mizpe Hayamim.

The property is at once a working farm, luxury hotel, fine-dining destination, vegetarian wellness retreat and full-service spa. While international attention on Israel focuses on issues far removed from respite, the hotel embodies another Israel, the same Israel that welcomed some 2.3 million visitors in 2007.

Mizpe Hayamim, which loosely translates to "view of the seas," was the dream of Yaakov Jaroslavsky, Israel’s first homeopathic physician. In 1966, after years of planning, he opened a sanatorium based on vegan-organic nutrition. The main building, designed by a Bauhaus architect from Tel Aviv, remains notable today for its functionality and elegant simplicity. Treatment, however, was a fry cry from Relais & Chateaux’ five Cs. It was a regime so punishing that Jaroslavsky acquired the reputation of having gone mad.

When the present ownership took over the sanitarium’s site on the hill it remained dedicated to the doctor’s vision — albeit with large doses of comfort and pleasure added.

Those staying in the hotel’s 99 guestrooms and suites are treated not only to knockout views of the valley and sea beyond, but also to cuisine that has made it a foodie destination. The Organic Kitchen offers a bounty of gorgeously arranged vegetarian dishes served buffet style from a long farmhouse table. A second restaurant, the intimate non-vegetarian Muscat, is housed in a separate building. Virtually every ingredient at Muscat, as in The Organic Kitchen, is harvested from the farm.

Guestrooms and suites, each with its own decor, are eclectically furnished with an eye for comfort and style. Balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows afford views of the hills, valley and the sea. Sofas and chairs invite lingering. Turndown service and room maintenance are complete and unobtrusive. Marble-clad, enormous bathrooms are outfitted with deep Jacuzzi tubs and glass-walled showers. Towels are plentiful; terry-cloth robes and slippers are provided, along with the assurance that it is perfectly all right to wear them about the hotel.

As for the spa, 22 airy rooms provide massage choices along with herbal baths, aromatherapy sessions and pampering beauty treatments. Health assessments and weight-loss programs are also offered. A large indoor swimming pool is open year-round and a path through the trees leads to tennis courts.

A weekly program guide invites guests to head out for a brisk early morning walk and continues on throughout each day with a schedule that includes water exercise, Pilates, yoga and tai chi, interspersed with such offerings as a ceramic workshop, a traditional English tea party and an evening movie. No guest should miss the guided property tour that takes in the gardens and orchards; the sheds that house cows, sheep and goats; the poultry areas; the dairy and bakery; the soap workshop; and the art gallery where local artists are hard at work.

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim is a place you should encourage your clients to settle into for several days or more, in order to fully enjoy and appreciate this unique hotel’s personal version of Relais & Chateaux’ commitment to its five Cs.