Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Across the valley and over the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee

Overlooking the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee.
by Darcy Hodges

I’d recently gone to Israel to visit my son who is currently living there and to have a bit of a vacation. It’s a 12-hour flight from New York, and long and arduous being cooped up in that seat space of an airliner. So arriving the Hotel Mizpe Hayamim (loosely translated: Lake View) with its marvelous vistas and the air redolent wih flowers and fruit groves, came as a great relief. The hotel is a Relais & Chateaux member and everywhere you look there’s beauty. Looking across the valley and over the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee, I could only think that I was looking at land that had barely changed in a thousand years or more. The sight of it all was invigorating and more relaxing than if I had taken a nap.
Views from veranda ...
The main building covers 37 acres. The original construction started in 1966 and was purchased by the current owner, Sammy Chazan, in1984. It is one of the 450 members of Relais & Châteaux.
The terrace door opened up to various fruit trees ... I felt as if I were living in a tree house.
Fresh fruit, flowers and cookies were delivered to the room daily.
After I had a chance to check in and unwind I was greeted by DiDi Neifeld, the hotel's International Guest Coordinator, who took me on a tour of the grounds which include pools and streams running through groves, herbs, and vegetable gardens.
The hotel is fully organic in both the gardens and farm covering 28 acres of land. All the work is done in the biblical method (also known as Demeter Agriculture, self-contained and self-sustaining, free of any external and unnatural additions). The crops are spread over a very large area; each plot is planted with a variety of trees, in order to prevent the development of pests and disease, as well as integrating different types of cultivated and wild landscape.

Mizpe Hayamim’s own organic farm is the source of the food served in the hotel's two restaurants – “The Vegetarian” and “Muscat,” a gourmet restaurant, which combines fish and meat dishes.

The diary, cows, sheep, goats and free-roaming chickens provide the hotel with fresh milk, cheese and eggs.
The hotel dairy transforms organic fresh milk from the property's 32 cows, 100 goats and 100 sheep into a great variety of soft and hard cheeses. The Bakery produces breads, cakes and ice cream that are served in the various dining rooms.

There is also a hotel shop where guests can purchase a multitude of home-grown products.
All flowers that adorn the hotel are grown and arranged on the property ...
For the Germaphobes, soap-making classes are available.
There are a number of excellent vineyards in nearby Rosh Pina.
The art gallery inhabits a building of its own. Monthly, it holds exhibitions by various artists from the area. All art mediums compose the gallery: jewelry, ceramic painters and sculpture artists may be observed at work.
A wide assortment of teas, coffees, cookies and cake is served in the hotel lobby throughout the day. Late in the afternoon I found a gathering of guests in the Salon and on the Veranda enjoying the cool clean air as the sun lowered in the sky.
The Vegetarian restaurant serves the products from the fruit orchard, vegetable, and herb gardens. Fresh fish from the hotel ponds come together with fresh milk and egg products from the hotel farm. The chef and kitchen staff combine the scents and tastes of nature in beautiful, healthy and tasty meals.
The “Muscat” Restaurant, where fish and meat dishes are served with magical panoramas of the Hula Valley and Sea of Galilee.
The indoor pool is semi-Olympic sized and heated in winter. There is a Jacuzzi in the pool area and one outside as well with breathtaking views of the Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon. The pool is cleaned by an advanced purification system based on salts, using no chemicals.
There are 22 treatment rooms at the spa. All manned by professional and experienced workers who offer a variety of unique massages and treatments.

There are two treatment rooms for couples – The Jasmine and Morning Star House. They are situated in the midst of the herb garden.

Hotel Mizpe Hayamim
P.O.B. 27 Rosh Pina 12000, Israel
Tel: (+) 972-4-6994555, Fax: (+) 972-4-6999555
Toll Free In Israel: 1-800-555-666


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