New York -- Dan Hotels, Israel’s homegrown luxury hospitality brand, soon will open its first property outside the Middle East, in Bangalore, India. More Indian hotels are in the works as well, CEO Raffi Saddeh said at a press conference in New York yesterday – but the chain also has its eye on New York and Europe.
“We were looking very particularly in New York, but that didn’t happen,” Saddeh said. “But we’re still looking in the U.S. and in Western Europe. Everything is open for negotiation.”
At home, meanwhile, Dan Hotels has been growing slowly over its 70-year history. Its “crown jewel,” the iconic and majestic five-star King David Hotel in Jerusalem is joined by 12 other properties, three more in Jerusalem and the rest along the Mediterranean coast. Among them are a golf resort, a boutique property and a corporate-oriented hotel adjoining the convention center in Tel Aviv, the bustling heart of the tiny nation’s young and active scene.
New products like Dan Active, where guests can take a bike tour of the hills where Jesus walked, and Dan Gourmet, where they can try their hand at a cooking school with 24 state-of-the-art stations, are designed to appeal to a broad range of customers. And indeed, Saddeh said, the customer base is skewing younger, staying longer, growing bigger.
In a time when Israel, with its eternal and high-tech focus on security, suddenly seems as safe as Europe, 2016 brought a 24% increase in tourists to the Holy Land, 45% of them from the United States, its top market. Fifty-one percent of Dan Hotels guests in 2016 came from North America.
“Because of the turmoil in the neighborhood, tours no longer go to Egypt, but there are dozens of new flights to Eilat,” including a new one from SAS, said Dan hotels publicist Geoffry Weill. “That underscores the fact that despite everything that is going on in the Middle East, Israel is one of the safest places to be.”
Indeed, Saddeh said, “People feel that Israel is the right place to go, and we are seeing a lot of interest among tour operators who haven’t been featuring Israel.”
This summer, music festivals in Tel Aviv – and with them, Dan Hotels – will see appearances by Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Rod Stewart and Aerosmith, and the city, shaking off the religious feel of nearby Jerusalem, has a large following in the LGBT community. Dan is building as new property there as well, “very boutiquey, very high-tech,” Saddeh said. Called The Link and designed with a social network that invites guests to meet and then go clubbing or out to eat together, it will open by the end of the year.