Putting on the Ritz – in Herzliya. Glass visits the recently opened Ritz-Carlton in Israel and experience the unique Blends Programme
APPROACHING Herzliya, Tel-Aviv’s exclusive coastal suburb, I am driven past dozens of office blocks showcasing one of Israel’s main hi-tech hubs – in fact Israel is only second to the USA in terms of the number of start-up companies in the country. Staying in Herzliya is the ideal location for both the leisure and business traveller, as it boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean and is also more tranquil than Tel Aviv, yet only a short 15-minute drive away.
Entering the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s grand lobby-lounge with its floor-to-ceiling windows, I am drawn to the stunning balcony overlooking the largest marina in Israel. The view over the sparkling Mediterranean is spectacular, with an array of boats and yachts in varying sizes, all neatly lined up along the quayside in front of the hotel. I feel a tingle of excitement as I anticipate my stay in this glorious establishment.
I am struck by the brightness of my room with its enormous window leading onto a balcony overlooking the marina below. Muted shades of taupe with blue accents complete the colour palette of the interior ultra-modern furnishings, allowing natural materials such as marble and wood to feature throughout, and the sumptuous bathroom offers a huge bath with a separate shower room.
The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya has 115 guest rooms, including two junior suites and a presidential suite. I very quickly observe what sets this hotel apart from others in Israel – its unparalleled sublime level of service, with staff seemingly anticipating guests’ requirements before they even ask. Although I learn that the Ritz-Carlton management brief all their staff before each guest’s arrival on their specific requirements, I am still surprised that so many know my name.
Hotel amenities include a Shiseido spa, a fully equipped fitness centre with outstanding sea views, and a rooftop bar with a 360-degree vista of the coast, both northwards and southwards. Luxurious sun loungers and umbrellas surround the large rooftop pool and the children’s paddling pool, with shaded seating areas for those taking a break from the sun.
On the first night I dine at the Ritz-Carlton’s Herbert Samuel Restaurant, considered one of the finest gourmet kosher restaurants in Israel, where the menu changes daily dependent on market availability with almost all ingredients sourced locally. My dinner starts with the sublime artichoke hearts, accompanied by charred tomatoes with olive cream, which are melt-in-the-mouth tender and oozing with flavour. My main course is the Peking whole fish, comprising a perfectly grilled sea bass with an Asian tangy and intense sauce, with the flesh simply falling off the bone, and accompanied by a side of crispy oriental vegetables.
The hotel’s restaurant also doubles as a magnificent morning dining area, where a sumptuous Israeli breakfast is presented, complete with beautifully arranged fresh fruits, salad, fish, cheeses, breads, and pastries, while several chefs prepare any type of egg delivered to your table. For those who desire a lighter lunch option, the lobby bar offers snacks throughout the day and evening, while there is also a more casual dining area available by the rooftop pool.
The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya has recently launched its Blends Programme, which provides guests with individual tailor-made concierge experiences around Israel across a very broad range of interests – including art and design, science, hi-tech, fashion, and food and wine.
To commence my Blends experience, I choose to visit Sarona, a newly developed primarily indoor food market, offering some of the finest fresh produce available from around the country. There are outlets filled floor-to-ceiling with the brightest orange and yellow spices, although I am drawn to the shop specialising in halva, a Middle Eastern tahini-based calorific laden confection, with a consistency comparable to soft fudge. Although somewhat touristy, Sarona is a sensory feast as my eyes take in the vibrant plethora of colours, while the sweet smell of freshly melted sugar fills the air around me.
Then I meet up with the beautiful Anat and Nitzan of Shoplifters, who offer a unique personal shopping experience, giving clients access both to the best emerging talent in Israel and also to the more established designers. They take me to numerous shops off the beaten track in Jaffa, where I find some amazing Israeli designer boutiques, including the famous atelier, Maskit, with Sharon Tal at its helm, who gained experience in London working with Alexander McQueen.
And for those who wish to sample Israel’s biblical history, it is well worth also planning a day-trip only one hour away to Jerusalem, one of the most ancient cities in the world, to see the holiest sites of the all three Abrahamic religions.
by Amanda Bernstein
The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, 4 Hashunit Street, Herzliya, 4655504, Israel
Tel: +972 937 35555