Sheraton Becomes First
Smart Hotel in Israel

By Tim Boxer


Yossi Wircer welcomes Shimon Peres
To the new Sheraton City Tower

HERATON made a wise move in opening Israel’s first “smart hotel” in Ramat Gan. Instead of locating a new habitat on the traditional hotel row on the Tel Aviv beach, congested as it is with tourists, Sheraton built a new structure on the other side of the city, in the suburb of Ramat Gan.

“This particular area was desolate,” said Yossi Wircer, Sheraton Moriah Israel area manager. “There was nothing but garages here.”

The municipality decided to turn this part of town into a viable commercial center. Tax incentives drew business here. With new construction, the area evolved into the glittering Diamond Exchange District. High tech facilities followed, including software companies such as Check Point and John Brice. Even the South Africa embassy moved in.

Three years ago, Sheraton and Koor Industries launched Sheraton Israel with five hotels. (Today there are 12 in the country.) Wircer helped develop new properties, including the purchase of the Moriah chain and the building of City Tower of which he is now general manager.

As the Diamond District developed with additional commercial buildings, it became an exclusive complex that attracted businessmen from around the globe. Wircer conceived of City Tower as a home away from home for the traveling businessman. So it was essential that his new hotel be a “smart hotel.”

Yossi Wircer and waitress help
Nina Boxer at breakfast buffet

Hotels usually have a business center where a guest may use the fax, copy machine or do other office activity. A “smart hotel” makes every guest room a business center by installing an all-in-one HP fax, copier, e-mail scanner, laser printer plus an outlet for a computer. The large office desk has a two-line speakerphone with built-in modem jack for easy laptop hookup.

This makes it so convenient for the businessman on the road, who can communicate with his home office at any time of the day or night – in his pajamas. You don’t have to get dressed and come down to a business center.

You have the comforts of home and the facilities of an office. Now that’s smart!

The hotel, opened last September, has 168 rooms on the first 17 floors. There are seven conference rooms, a health club, and the attractive Arugula restaurant overlooking the heated outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. Many on the staff are young, outgoing and enthusiastic.

Floors 18 to 46 are condos that will be for sale starting in April. A one-bedroom suite will go for $260,000. There is a separate lobby and elevators to the apartments. All hotel services are available to the residents.

City Tower got off to a superb start under the direction of Yossi Wircer. A Tel Aviv native, Wircer served in the Special Forces, and then worked as a security officer with EL AL. He stayed in the best hotels all over the world; that experience serves him well today.

He recalls the time in 1970 when his platoon spent a month in Jordan hunting down terrorists. His platoon took over the village of Safi & Fifi, abandoned by the inhabitants fearful of terrorists.

“King Hussein knew of our movements,” Wircer said. “He approved because he too felt threatened by the terrorists.”

Taking care of business
in a Sheraton Smart Room

One night the guard on duty was startled. He heard noises and began shooting. Then silence. In the morning the soldiers found a dead horse. A newborn colt stood nearby.

“Apparently the horse made the noise while giving birth,” Wircer said, “and that caused the guard to open fire.”

The platoon was under strict orders not to take anything from the village, not even an orange. But the 22-year-old commander wanted to take the baby horse home to his kibbutz in the Galil. When Gen. Ariel Sharon, then head of the southern command, came for a visit, the soldiers tried to hide the horse. Sharon saw it and ordered them to leave it behind.

“We put the horse in a vehicle, covered with tarpaulin, and drove back across the border,” Wircer said with a large grin. “Moshe Dayan, and Chief of Staff Chaim Bar Lev and Sharon were waiting to greet us. We managed to sneak that horse right under their noses.”

To make a reservation online for the Sheraton City Tower in Ramat Gan go to www.Sheraton.com.


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