As a tourist destination, Israel’s Negev Desert is most famous for the seaside resort city of Eilat. But for those looking for a different travel experience, there is a new hotel that is a destination in itself.
It takes a two-hour-plus drive from Tel Aviv to reach the desolate site Makhtesh Ramon, a five-million-year-old, 40km long, heartshaped crater where cavemen used to hunt in ancient times. The crater lies along the ancient Incense Route, which was used by the Nabateans 2,000 years ago as they travelled to the Mediterranean seaport city of Gaza.
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Named after the Hebrew word for “Genesis”, the Beresheet Hotel is a haven of luxury and tranquillity at this extraordinary location. The property has 111 rooms and suites, 42 with private infinity-edge pools. But it’s the big pool, perched on the crater's rim, that is the real treat.
“What better way to drink in the desert than from a water-filled oasis?” asks the reviewer in Travel+Leisure magazine.
Focus lies on food, with most produce in the kitchen coming from farmers and wineries in the area. Of course, you must also fit in some exploration time of the crater in between meals and treatments in the nine-room spa.
“Work up an appetite for the locally sourced lamb tagine by four-wheeling 500 meters into the crater itself, where ancient fossils and remnants of cavemen await,” writes Condé Nast Traveller in a review of the hotel, which was placed on the magazine’s 2012 Hot List.
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