Our trip to the otherworldly property built within Ramon Crater in Israel's Negev Desert
By Andrea Dicenzo
The most stunning element to behold at the Beresheet Hotel is the view. While the staff will be eager to point this out to guests, the architecture and design of the structure reveals it first. The surrounding vista is of utmost importance to the design of Beresheet Hotel, a luxury property built directly into a cliff overlooking Israel's beautiful and otherworldly Negev Desert. Part of the Isrotel Exclusive Collection, this hotel embodies the concept of architects Yehuda Feigin and his sons, Dov and Yoel. One of the main conceptional ideas behind Isrotel and Feigin's design lay in how to incorporate this extraordinary view into the very fabric of the guest's experience.
Vital to maximize the exposure to this sublime scenery, Beresheet's 111 rooms humbly compose just two stories in an enclave of freestanding bungalows surrounding the central registration building, which includes the lobby, concierge, spa, restaurant and cafe.
Additionally, wide open interior spaces and floor-to-ceiling wood furnished windows by Piedmontese manufacturer Navello are built to preserve as much of an unobstructed view into the desert as possible. Guests are given the very best vantage points for soaking up the vast, ancient land and watching the colors of the desert transform from cloudily blues to brazen yellows before sinking into the pinks and violets of late sunset. Creating the feeling of being outside and physically connected to the terrain was paramount to the design process.
Construction of this hotel took four years due the ecological constraints the Isrotel company had to face, and providing a destination that incorporated the history and ecology of what is considered one of Israel's natural beauties was deeply important to the company. The hotel not only sits within the rocky Negev Desert but, specifically, the largest crater in the world, the Ramon Crater. The massive crater (not the consequence of an asteroid impact) is more than 1,500 feet deep, 25 miles long and 6 miles wide at its largest. The breadth of this magnificent panorama also dates back over 200 million years and is the largest nature reserve in Israel. Thus, particular attention had to be paid to building anything along the edge of this unique geographical formation.
In order to blend as seamlessly as possible into the natural rock formation around the hotel, Feigin and the interior design team, ARA Design, used natural rocks and stones from the local town of Mitzpe Ramon. The rocks were carefully excavated and shaped lightly to form the foundation of all the buildings on-site. The rocks not only assemble the majority of the exterior, but remain exposed in parts of the hotel and individual rooms as a gentle reminder of their beauty and significance.
Some of the wood and ceramic used inside the hotel also come from recycled material around area, including old timber railway sleepers that are broken down and turned into stairs. In each of the rooms, there are original woven wall hangings by nomadic people indigenous to the surrounding desert. This effort of limiting the irregular and possibly hazardous material of the hotel provides stability for the ecosystems of the crater. For those drawn to Beresheet because of the crater itself will be happy to know the hotel supplies tours into the crater all year around by Jeep, bike, on foot or on a camel. This is an excellent way to learn more about its unique ecosystem and get a chance to see an Oryx—the local beast of the desert —in person.