The Ein Gedi Hotel was founded by our guests, not by us. Seven women from Rehovot heard of the unique Dead Sea healing properties and decided to vacation at Ein Gedi, a small outpost in a barren area with no proper road access or transportation.
Every morning, one of the Kibbutz members would take them to the beach in a Command Car and they would each dig a ditch by one of the springs and sit in it until the Command Car returned to pick them up. Accounts of the wonderful and remote site spread by word of mouth, creating a growing demand for accommodations. One of the enthusiastic kibbutz members decided to take two wooden cabins from the old outpost and put them on the hill where Ein Gedi currently stands. He added a concrete structure that served as showers and toilets for all of the guests and, in essence, founded the Ein Gedi Guesthouse.
A Modest Beginning
The beginning was modest and simple. Accommodations were always sold for one week as the bus only stopped at the Kibbutz once a week. As each new group arrived, the staff – consisting of only four people – would board the bus, unload the luggage, and take it to the rooms. While they did this, the women of the Kibbutz would enter the vacated rooms to clean and prepare them for the new guests who, in turn, were responsible for cleaning the rooms and changing the linen on their own. There were no towels but the guests brought their own. The guests were assigned one table in the middle of the Kibbutz dining room and one of the Kibbutz members was assigned to cook special meals and serve them to the table. As the guesthouse grew, so did the need for more tables. The Kibbutz held many animated discussions on the matter, until finally deciding to build a separate dining room for the Kibbutz members. From then on, the Kibbutz members could no long enjoy the delicacies prepared for the guests.
Another wooden shack was later brought from the old outpost, the old Command Car was replaced by a Studebaker, showers were installed on the beach, and convenient beach access was arranged. A large raft was placed in the water for the guests to lounge on until the Studebaker arrived to take them back to the Kibbutz.
It was at this point that the Kibbutz decided to build a proper bathhouse and pools with the warm sulfur water. Every morning, the guesthouse manager would open the pump for filling the sulfur pools and, two hours later, once the pools were filled, he’d return with the guests. At the end of the day, he’d empty the pools and take the guests back to their rooms.
The “Membership” Era
The growing demand for Ein Gedi vacations was surprising and unexpected, making it impossible to accept new guests. The guesthouse was only able to accommodate groups of former guests who’d visit Ein Gedi twice a year on regular dates. The membership list was subject of a longstanding tradition where people would bequeath their Ein Gedi memberships to their children. The topic was even discussed on a national radio show and the guesthouse manager was asked to explain why he could not accept new guests.
The guesthouse continued to grow. The wooden shacks were replaced by concrete transportable structures, an expansive lawn was planted at the center along with two small trees – less than 1m high – now two giant baobab trees. The central law became an attraction for the guests and the center of their cultural activities. Every afternoon, the guests would mix and mingle on the lawn, sing, tell stories and develop a special intimate atmosphere unique to Ein Gedi. People of different groups, locations, and cultures converged on the lawn, barefoot and in shorts, to enjoy an afternoon of singing, storytelling and conversation.
Building and Expanding
Over the years, the location grew and expanded as Ein Gedi becoming a local and global synonym for health, tranquility, and simplicity. Yoske Arieli, whose son was a member of the Kibbutz, contacted people in Germany and attracted groups of Germans who fell in love with Ein Gedi and visited it for decades. Many considered Ein Gedi their second home. The bonds that developed between the Israeli and German guests and between the Kibbutz members and guests were unusual, leading to a special sense of friendship and camaraderie that superseded history, cultural, and geographical barriers.
The following years reflected a period of construction and expansion. The old bathhouse was deserted in 1984, replaced with the current structure of six pools, a restaurant, a sweet water pool and a large cosmetics store. The “Arugot Wing” of the guesthouse was built in 2000, with 32 spacious and designed rooms, the pool was renovated and expanded, the gardens were nurtured with love and a new structure was built for the lobby, a small shop and even a bar for evening activities, while the staff consistently grew.
The site was transformed into a hotel in 2012, with the decision to add the new boutique wing. The wing currently consists of the Arugot rooms, the mini rooms and suites, the deluxe rooms and, above all, the exclusive Synergy Spa. The hotel hired a new chef, who created a menu suited to the new hotel, based on fresh and healthy foods, vegetables and a wide variety.
Despite its expansion, the hotel retained its rural, intimate, and tranquil atmosphere. It currently consists of 166 rooms in one- or two-storied structures covering a large area and surrounding green gardens, giant tries like the baobab and Bengal fig and, most importantly, the unrivaled desert peace, quiet and beauty.
We are waiting to see you here.