Luxury Hotels


For the first time, Tel Aviv has professional hospitality training, thanks in no small part to David Cohen, long-standing GM of the venerable DAVID INTERCONTINENTAL TEL AVIV, above. As if in celebration of the 555-room hotel’s 25th birthday, three weeks ago the first 20 students started at the hotel’s inhouse Academy. It’s a partnership with Kinneret Academic College at the Sea of Galilee: the college processed all 300-plus applicants and it provides the tutors. Sessions are held in a former training room at the hotel, with classroom-style sessions every Tuesday 4-9 p.m. and Friday 9 am-2pm. After 10 months, if exams are passed, students receive certificates from Kinneret Academic College, the David Intercontinental Hotel, the IHG hotel chain, and the Israel Hotels Association. Students pay, 18,000 Nis including VAT, but they are, as interns at the school, receiving full salaries.

David Cohen says it is remarkable to see the passion. The chosen students include a retired accountant who had always longed to work in a hotel. This is the type of team member the hotel needs, as every hotel does. It is all the more appropriate that it is this hotel that is hosting the academy. As well as continuously needing to maintain its 350-about workforce, Cohen is planning ahead to the time a sister property, a 160-room INTERCONTINENTAL JERUSALEM, opens and it too will need staff.

David Intercontinental seems to dominate the Sir Charles Clore Beach area of the coast. Savvy travellers go for bedrooms closest to that beach, and they buy-up to get access to the superb 24th floor Club Continental, open from 7am through to 11pm (see a video, below). Breakfast is somewhat more refined than the obvious hubbub that sees hundreds swarming around the buffet that is part of the main third floor public area – as you enjoy a tasting of the main buffet’s goodies, say, various yoghurts and labneh and other cheeses, and many pickled and smoked fish, look up the soaring atrium.

David Intercontinental has been a hit from the start, when it was opened by GM Jurgen Baumhoff. Writing from his Perth home, he says when he arrived in Tel Aviv the only other pre-opening employee was the Chief Engineer, hired by the owning company. Baumhoff could not get anyone from the InterContinental Group to join due to non-availability of working visas for non-Jews (his mother was Jewish): he had to steal the rest of his team from competitors. There were other challenges. A couple of months before opening, the outdoor pool leaked down into the ballroom, which had already had its carpet laid. Baumhoff and his wife Barbara were among those spending many hours drying the carpet – outside contractors repaired the leak.

And then came the day of the opening. 1,200 were invited. 3,000 turned up!! Fortunately there was just enough food and drink – Israelis are great when needed to improvise in a very short time, always ready to fight for the right cause, says Jurgen Baumhoff. It was one of InterContinental’s best openings at that time and pre-opening expenses were recovered in only three months.

This is still the place where things happen. As well as the ongoing Academy, next week David Intercontinental Tel Aviv hosts Questex’s Israel Hotel Investment Summit IHIS, part of IHIF, an offshoot of Berlin’s mighty International Hotel Investment Forum IHIF. Entitled ‘Investing at the crossroads of culture and innovation’ the conference, 15-16 November, 2022, will see all the biggies in town sharing ideas. Among the many speakers are Israel’s Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvovos, Selina’s Rafi Musseri and one of Israel’s top innovators, Ronit Copeland. In the ballroom.

Now let’s hear David Cohen’s boss, here: