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Dan Hotels pamper Israel visitors

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The Dan Hotels chain offers new bicycle and foodie packages

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

The Times of Israel news website recently reported that President Donald Trump will stay at Jerusalem’s “ritzy King David Hotel,” during his one-day visit to Israel next week.

All of the hotel’s 233 rooms have been reserved for president’s entourage, according to Channel 2.

“Hotels officials said that security teams insisted that the hotel be completely cleared of guests a day before his arrival and that the area would become a virtual fortress,” The Times of Israel noted, and added: “Dan Hotels, which owns the King David, has also offered to set aside all of the rooms in the nearby Dan Panorama and Dan Boutique hotels for the delegation accompanying the U.S. president.”

The president’s upcoming visit to Israel was on the minds of two recent visitors to the AJW offices. Rafi Baeri, vice president of marketing and sales for Dan Hotels Israel; and Eitan Sasson, the hotel chain’s director of marketing and sales for North America, stopped by for an update on a dozen of Israel’s most popular hotels.

Eitan Sasson (left) and Rafi Baeri (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

(In the way of full disclosure: I have stayed at Dan Hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat, and received a special journalist discount on room rates.)

Baeri said at the top that 51 percent of international tourists staying at Dan Hotels were from the United States, in the first quarter of this year. The next largest group of guests come from Europe: 10 percent from France, nine percent from the United Kingdom, and eight percent from Russia.

The U.S. segment represents “a lot of up-market” visitors, according to Baeri. He said that only 20 to 25 percent of Jews in the U.S. have ever been to Israel. Perhaps, the percentage is greater for Minnesota Jews. In any case, Christian pilgrims make up the bulk of U.S. visitors to Israel.

Somewhat surprising was Baeri’s mention of the growth in tourism from China. There were 80,000 Chinese tourists visiting Israel in 2016, and that number is expected to increase by 50 percent this year.

The Chinese are “different from any tourists we knew,” commented Baeri. They want to try Chinese food in Israel — which they call “Isaliya” — and the hotels cater to that wish. Also, the hotels must provide toiletries for the Chinese tourists.

The Chinese market is one area of development for the Dan Hotels, which is also working on attracting more guests from Russia and South American.”

Baeri and Sasson met with tour operators and travel agents during their Twin Cities stop. They also met with Federation officials about upcoming Young Leadership and other tours to Israel.

The marketing duo also discussed the Dan Active vacations, which now include biking tours of Israel. The packages are geared to various ages and skill levels; and high-quality bikes are provided for the inclusive packages. The King David Bike Tour: From Galilee to Jerusalem, a nine-day trek, lists September and October dates.

Another innovation is Dan Gourmet, which, in participation with World Ort, the Jewish vocational and educational training group, offers Tel Aviv-based courses in Israeli and Jewish cooking at a “huge operating kitchen.” Baeri called it the “largest kosher cooking school in the world.” Dan Gourmet is open to all tourists to Israel.

A deluxe room at the Dan Eilat (Photo: Courtesy of Dan Hotels)

Although many people perceive Israel primarily as a conflict zone, tourism to the Jewish state is booming: visitors have increased 23 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the previous year. The Dan Hotels share of tourists in the same time period is up by 11 percent.

On your next trip to Israel, consider staying in the lap of luxury. After a hard day of tourism, Dan Hotels are pure pleasure.

(American Jewish World, 5.19.17)

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