The Dead Sea is Israel’s foremost health-oriented resort destination, attracting people from the world over to its curative atmospheric conditions and mineral-rich waters and mud. The Daniel, part of the Israeli Tamares Hotels chain, is one of the most prominent of the cluster of hotels at the southern end of the hypersaline lake that accommodates domestic and international visitors.
Most of the hotel’s 302 rooms, and all 12 suites, boast views of the sea, as well as the impressive backdrop of Jordan’s Moav Mountains on the opposite shore. And they feature comfortable king-sized beds, sitting areas, and LCD TV’s with satellite channels in a variety of languages, of which English is just one. Guests also enjoy free Wi-Fi in all rooms.
After a good night’s sleep, one awakes to a lavish complimentary breakfast: separate hot and cold buffets; colorful salads; hard and soft cheeses; cereals; fresh and dried fruit; breads, pastries and cakes; and omelets made-to-order. There were also two coffee stations: one staffed by a barista, the other self-serve for take-away.
Besides the chaises lounges poolside, there are a number of outdoor relaxation areas featuring hammocks, swings and canopied daybeds. But the serious relaxing is done at the Shizen Spa, which enables guests to get the benefits of the local waters without going to the beach — although it is a short walk away, and there is also a free shuttle bus from the hotel. The spa facility comprises two floors: the ground floor houses the Dead Sea water and sulfur pools, the Jacuzzi, a sauna and steam room, while the upper floor is given over to treatment rooms.
Even before your arrival, you can peruse the Shizen Spa Treatment Menu online and book a massage in advance. There is a wide variety of health and beauty treatments on the eclectic menu, which draws from Western and Eastern holistic traditions, including Indian Ayurveda.
Soaking in the therapeutic pools is free of charge to all hotel guests — although there is a surcharge for the sulphur pool. It takes a few minutes to adjust to the smell, and the slick feeling on the skin from the water’s minerals, but the extreme buoyancy of the water quickly becomes the #1 characteristic of the experience. Within moments, you are floating as if on air; the awesome feeling of weightlessness is practically akin to being in a sensory deprivation or isolation tank — minus any hint of claustrophobia. It is not recommended to spend more than 20 minutes in the sulphur pool, but floating in the Dead Sea water pools — the indoor one connects to its twin outdoors — and then sitting in the bubbling Jacuzzi prolongs the feeling of well-being.
In addition to medical tourism, there is a lot going on at the sprawling property: several restaurants; a pub; a comprehensive recreation area comprising tennis courts, a soccer field, a basketball court, a volleyball court — even a fully automated seven-lane bowling alley and billiards lounge on the premises. Pools for adults and children, it goes without saying, and a “kingdom” full of games and activities for kids of all ages. In short, everything a family could ask for in a vacation. This is a popular stop for many tours heading from Israel to Petra or vice-versa.
Published rates at the Daniel Dead Sea Hotel start at $162 per night, including breakfast. Half board and full board packages also available, with discounts for stays of seven nights and more. You can also check rates at Travelocity or Expedia.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the Daniel Dead Sea for purposes of review. Photos courtesy of Tamares Hotels.