Coming to the Carmel Forest Spa and Resort in the middle of a workweek was a mistake.
A colossal mistake. Because how can one work when surrounded lush greenery, nutrient-rich and delicious food and one of the best spas in the country? Arriving at the hotel, which is nestled atop the mountains in the middle of the Carmel Forest, is a feast for all five senses. Here’s why: Sight Forget a room with a view, with our Garden Room suite, we were treated to a view with a room. With two lounge chairs and a small table on a wooden deck, for a blissful 24 hours we had our own private garden overlooking the Carmel Forest and – in the distance – the Mediterranean Sea.
For dinner, we also had the best view in town as we were perched on the deck and seemed to have the whole view – forest included – to ourselves.
The hotel also boasts a wide array of Israeli artwork. As a commitment to promoting Israeli artists, the Isrotel chain (which owns the hotel) decided to display these unique works throughout the premises. The hope is to “generate a dialogue between the work and the space in which it is presented, as well as between the work and viewer,” a catalogue created by the hotel and which chronicles the different pieces explains.
With its high ceilings and big windows, the building has been a source of solace and calm since its construction. Originally a rest home for Holocaust survivors, it was transformed into this private hotel 20 years ago. Two decades is a long time to be in the spa and service business, where the newest trends reign supreme, which is why constant renovations and upgrades are key.
“We’re always trying to improve and create a unique personal experience for each guest,” General Manager, Aya Grundman explained.
To that end, just last month, the hotel renovated its lobby and the footpaths along its outdoor pool.
Additionally, a new spa treatment is being added to the hotel’s extensive treatment menu. Nina Shapiro, manager of the spa, is mum on those details for now. “I want to see the treatment in my hands first,” she said with a wry smile.
Touch Speaking of the spa, no stay at the Carmel Forest is complete without trying out at least one treatment. The Ayurveda Spa massage is, quite simply, an out-ofbody experience. The treatment, which hails from India, exfoliates the skin; then one is doused with warm sesame seed oil. What was a 75-minute treatment felt like five minutes and when it was over not only were my knees like jelly, but the ability to speak in a coherent sentence eluded me for at least an hour after.
“This I need wash,” I mumbled feebly to my boyfriend as I pointed to my hair, now soaked with oil, upon my return to the room.
Even the act of sleeping was unique, with mattresses specially created by the hotel. A pillow menu is on offer by the bedside, enabling guests to channel their inner Goldilocks and find a pillow that is “just right.” From options spanning the Aloe Vera Comfort Pillow to the a Dream Pillow developed by NASA, a good night’s sleep is just a phone call away.
Smell From a linen spray on the bedside table to the lush greenery surrounding the pool grounds, everything smelled lush and fresh – an invigorating redolence far removed from the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Taste While the hotel employs a dietitian, Shira Solow, this is not a diet hotel. Sure, there are juice cleanses on offer, where one limits themselves to a four-day liquid diet, but on the whole, Solow works closely with the hotel’s chef to ensure meals are hearty and nutrient-rich, with many options available to anyone with dietary restrictions. We indulged in the entrecote with potato gratin and chocolate soufflé, but one could easily go the meat-free, gluten- free, fat-free, sugar-free route and not give up on taste.
Sound For most of our stay, all we heard was blissful silence. It’s a relatively remote location and a no-children- under-12 rule means that aside from a few birds chirping in the background, one can actually take a moment to enjoy hearing nothing at all. When there is sound, it’s delightfully pleasant, like during the dinner hours when live music is played in the lobby.
AT THE end of the day, though, the Carmel Forest Spa is an exclusive hotel and that does not come cheap. Rooms average around $200 to $300 a night per person for a half-board stay. The Ayurveda Spa massage was $130 (485 NIS). Dinner and breakfast, thankfully, are included in halfboard accommodation.
“I see guests arrive, even for 24 hours, and they leave looking like a completely different person,” Grundman said.
It’s true. My complexion is brighter, my belly is delightfully full and I have mounds of work waiting for me upon my return home – but it was all worth it.
The writer was a guest of the resort.