Israeli hospitality scores big with Hollywood stars

“The only downside of coming to Israel is that as soon as you get here, you realize how much more there is to see in such a short time.”

By Steve K. Walz, Exclusive to World Israel News

It makes no difference whether you are the “First Lady” of prime-time TV or the iconic “King of Hard Rock,” Israeli hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem treat every one of their VIP guests like royalty, which is why a growing number of Hollywood TV stars and rock legends are coming back to the Holy Land for “private visits” sans the hoopla.Am

During the past five years, Israeli music business entrepreneurs and American Jewish organizations alike have invested substantial sums of money to bring some of the biggest names in the music world and Hollywood to the Holy Land. In the case of the musical stars, it’s business mixed with pleasure. With the Hollywood celebs, Jewish organizations such as America’s Voices in Israel in tandem with various Israeli government ministry’s, underwrite the cost of their visit within the context of seeing and experiencing the “other Israel.”

Five star hotels such as the Dan Tel Aviv and David InterContinental in Tel Aviv, along with the Inbal, Mamilla and King David Hotels in Jerusalem are only too happy to host both the rock stars and Hollywood celebs.

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“The Dan Hotel group is very accustomed to welcoming high caliber guests from all over the world, whether it’s state visitors as well as top tier artists and performers. Of course we are also very happy to provide whatever they need in their rooms, occasionally having to have products not found in Israel shipped in from abroad, or specialty produce items procured from unique suppliers in Israel,” revealed Rafi Baeri, the Dan Hotel chain’s Vice-President of Sales & Marketing. “It’s not unusual for stars to make certain food and beverage requests either before they come or while they are at the hotel. One rock star actually wanted all alcoholic beverages removed from his room before he arrived, which is not something one would expect. Madonna and Richard Gere have stayed with us either at the Dan Tel Aviv or at our King David Hotel several times. Madonna actually requested to set up her own private fitness center in the Dan Tel Aviv ballroom. She shipped over her own equipment in three containers.

Baeri maintained that there are two key elements which consistently attract stars to the Dan Tel Aviv. “The beach and privacy,” he claimed. “When you can open the door to your suite and have the ocean in front of you, that’s a selling point. But privacy and security are paramount. Britney Spears, who recently stayed with us, might want to be seen by fans on her terrace but she also wants to come and go as she pleases without being harassed by paparazzi. That goes for all celebrities. The hotel has five different entrances and exits, so every day a star can come and go as he/she pleases without being noticed.”

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‘Just So Happy to be in Israel’

A spokeswoman for America’s Voices in Israel praised the aforementioned hotels for going out of their way to accommodate the visiting celebrities. “Many of the telenovela Latina stars like Maite Perroni who have come to Israel are very, low maintenance, with no special food requests etc. They were just so happy to be in Israel. During one trip, some of the telenovela stars wanted to relax in the spa at the Inbal Hotel on a Friday afternoon not long before Shabbat. The hotel accommodated them and they enjoyed it immensely. After the spa, they got dressed and went to the Western Wall to experience their first ever Shabbat service, which they said was one of the most fascinating things they had ever seen.”

Bellamy Young, the “First Lady” of TV’s smash hit series, “Scandal” told this reporter, “I had no idea that the lavish breakfasts with all the fruits, vegetables etc. served at the hotel, is standard at Israeli hotels, which is amazing.” On a day trip to Northern Israel, Ms. Young not only relished fresh made falafel, but she insisted on pouring a generous portion of “amba” a spicy, mango pickle condiment popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine on her pita.

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Baeri maintained that not everyone is as adventurous as Ms. Young when it comes to Israeli culinary exploration. “In reality, most of the stars, especially the singers don’t really want to sample Israeli or Mediterranean food, especially ahead of a performance. They want to eat what they know and what they like, which is why our chef will make them whatever they want. Many are in to healthy and natural foods as well,” said Baeri.

Kellan Lutz, the star of the “Twilight” vampire film series summed it up best when he told local reporters, “The only downside of coming to Israel is that as soon as you get here, you realize how much more there is to see in such a short time.”