Rimonim’s Local Flavor
Tue, 11/23/2010
Staff Writer
The Ruth Rimonim in Safed.
The Ruth Rimonim in Safed.

Although Rimonim Hotels
and Resorts is Israel’s fifth largest hotel chain, many of its nine hotels are small enough to capture their location’s local flavor.

For instance, the Rimonim Neve Ativ Holiday Village at the foot of Hermon Mountain in northern Israel consists of 44 wooden cottages surrounded by greenery and breathtaking scenery. And the Ruth Rimonim Hotel is located in the heart of the quaint alleys of the artists’ colony of Safed. Its 77 rooms retain the style of the old Turkish Khan or Turkish ruler’s headquarters that once existed on this spot — including keeping the stonewalls and high ceilings.

To help highlight the local appeal of Safed, the hotel arranged for the city’s former mayor, Zeev Perel, to conduct walking tours of the artists’ colony twice a week.

“The beauty of our hotels is that each tells a different story,” said Reuven Elkes, the hotel chain’s CEO. “We believe that travelers today want to experience the local flavor of the city and how it feels. That’s who we are. … We know what American crowds want.”

Although the largest hotels in the 1,700-room chain have nearly 300 rooms — the Rimonim Jerusalem has 290 rooms and the Rimonim Eilat has 278 — the average number of rooms is 180.

Elkes said he joined Rimonim Hotels in November 2007 when it had six hotels with 845 rooms. He was brought in to expand it to 2,000 rooms — a goal he expects to achieve next year — and has been doing that by either renting or signing management agreements with existing hotels that then carry the Rimonim Hotel name.

Were he to consider building his own hotel, Elkes said, it would be in Tel Aviv. In the meantime, he said he is looking to manage or rent existing hotels in areas where Rimonim Hotels are not now located or “if there is a property that is particularly interesting to us. …As I see the global market today, it is a game of big companies, not small companies.”

“Travel to Israel depends on security conditions — which are now pretty good — and the economy, which has a great influence,” Elkes pointed out. “And people are much smarter travelers today because of the Internet. … We try to give our guests the personal touch and amenities, and we have a lot of returning guests because of that. For example, in Eilat some of our guests want the same room when they return and ask for the special chocolate drink we have for their kids.”

Leanne Ziderman, the company’s sales director, pointed out that the Rimonim Jerusalem joined the hotel chain in January and that the three-star hotel is remaining open while renovations are underway. When they are completed next year, Elkes said it is expected to be rated a four-star hotel.

“When you come to one of our hotels, you will feel at home and feel Israel.”