Given that we paid about US$ 600 per night for a one bedroom hotel room our expectations were high, but unfortunately this hotel has not really figured out how to give its guests a world class experience. The devil is really in the details at these prices, and the details were neglected, unfortunately.
This resort hotel has much to offer:
- fantastic location, peeking over the edge of a desert crater.
- architecturally the hotel strives to fit into its landscape, using stone that matches the desert colors and small square buildings that do not loom over or compete with the visually stunning natural setting
- parking is located away from the main buildings so traffic does not disrupt the peace and quiet. Instead you are picked up in a golf cart and driven to your room.
- the restaurant is built to take full advantage of the view with floor to ceiling windows on three sides, and the option of eating on one of several balconies
- the inside of the hotel rooms are also visually well appointed and thoughtfully laid out, with each room having its own outside entrance and balcony (for more money you can also get a private pool - tip: they aren't heated, or at least were not when we stayed there in February, so depending on the time of year when you visit it may not be worth it).
- staff visited our room shortly after check in to confirm we had everything we needed and offered extra toiletries, towels, etc.; toiletries were high quality
- breakfast is one of Israel's strengths, and the resort offered a buffet with plenty of fresh cheese, fruit, vegetables and fresh bread, as well as eggs and other items. Smartly, they kept to their roots in designing the menu instead of opting for a more European or American menu.
But here is where it came up short:
- While visually appealing, the room needed some loving care. For example, one of the bedside lamps was broken, and there were other little details that hadn't been seen to. Nothing that made it an unpleasant experience, but not exactly what one expects at five star prices.
- We planned to do a little hiking down in the crater, and were quite surprised that the concierge knew nothing AT ALL about hiking options. Seemingly confused by our question, he referred us to the area's visitor center for hiking maps. They had them, which made us wonder why the resort hadn't simply walked over to the visitor's center itself, picked up a few maps, and at least gathered basic intel on a few of the marked trails so they could anticipate these types of questions. It wasn't as though the visitor's center offered us any additional insight above what the map provided.
- The dinner was pretty mediocre. One night the fish was under cooked and we almost sent it back; the next night our meal was over cooked. The wait staff was fine, but not spectacular. The table to staff ratio was probably a bit too high for high quality service.
- So far, these are all fairly subtle details that made me think: if they can just tweak their model a little bit, they can match their quality to expectations. They just need a good evaluation by an expert and a little calibration to achieve it, but then ...we interacted with the spa.
- We decided to get massages through the spa. Having not booked ahead, we called to inquire about availability and discovered to our delight that they had two slots available roughly at the same time in the morning. We booked them, thinking how perfect, we can relax in the morning, then head out for a short hike in the afternoon. And we made our plans accordingly.
- We walked to the spa 10 minutes prior to our appointment as directed. Upon arrival, they told us that one of the massages would have to be pushed back by a 1/2 hour. We were a little surprised they didn't bother to call the room ahead of time to relate this to us, saving my husband a trip over, but we shrugged and said fine - my massage was for an hour, while my husband's was for a 1/2 hour so we would still finish about the same time leaving our afternoon plan's intact.
- So, my husband walked back to the room to read and wait, while I had a very pleasant massage. Upon completing my experience, I find out that when my husband showed up for his delayed appointment, it took them another 15 minutes to get him in. They offered to extend his time for 15 minutes, but at this point he was pretty upset with the repeated blow off and said no, he needed to finish on time so as not to delay our hike. Yes, we could have afforded the extra 15 minutes; that wasn't really the issue.
- Now here is where the five star resort would have reacted differently than they did: they did nothing else. So my husband got about a 12 minute massage and was a little disgruntled.
- An easy fix would have been to (a) offer him an alternate time to come back - say at the end of the day after his hike for his full massage; (b) if that didn't work, then certainly he would not be charged for the mix up, and in fact (c) they should have found a way to make it up to him with some sort of token credit, something - even if more symbolic than real.
- We go on said hike. Have a nice time. Enjoy our mediocre meal for dinner because the view is stupendous. The next morning we check out and find out that the spa has charged us the full amount for both massages, meaning for a full 1/2 hour massage even though my husband never received it. So my husband politely inquires about the charge.
- It turns out that the spa bills separate from the hotel, and the hotel cannot change that portion of the bill. So they call down to the spa. At which point the staff at check-out begin to argue with the spa. The spa even accuses my husband of lying about his service, at which point the clerk says if you want to dispute the client's story you need to do it yourself.
- Now in the U.S., someone in the service industry would not have called this bluff. But the spa staff actually came up to the lobby! Now all eyes are upon us. Until this point my husband has insisted on English with the staff and has stayed calm, but when the spa staff insists on being rude he switches to Hebrew and hilariously his voice drops several octaves as he disputes her version of what happened. Once the accusation of outright lying occurs, my husband simply turns back to the hotel check-out staff and says, can I speak to a manager? And once that call is made, the charge is dropped from our bill.
Unbelievable that this is allowed to happen. We just dropped almost $1500 for a two night stay!
Two mistakes in my mind: (1) even if billing is separate, the hotel should have simply conceded the charge as it was nominal ($90) in comparison to the total bill to ensure the client walked away not entirely unhappy and then worked it out with the spa afterwards; (2) having made the mistake of calling the spa's bluff, the spa staff person should never have been allowed to come up to the lobby to dispute our version of the story (nor should they have argued on the phone in the presence of a guest); instead it should have been immediately referred to a manager.
We walked out determined to never return and to advise anyone thinking of spending the money to save it or go somewhere else.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beresheet Hotel by Isrotel Exclusive Collection is located in the spectacular geographical area of the Ramon Crater and offers a range of desert activities and attractions, all of which you can order at the hotel’s reception. Among the available activities are Jeep tours, camel rides, hiking, bicycle trips, bicycle renting, rappelling, hot-air balloons, self-drive Jeep adventures, Jeep excursions with outdoor meals and much more. In Beresheet Hotel, the kids and teenagers enjoy a diverse entertainment experience. Kids have fun in the well equipped Yeladudes kiddos club, while teenagers are offered an interactive youth space - state-of-the-art "grown-ups" rooms - that includes video games, advanced gaming and multimedia facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Beresheet Israel/Mitspe Ramon