Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

[ Herods Palace in Eilat ] [ Big Island in Hawaii ]
[ Guidebooks: Travelers’ Tales, Lonely Planet, TimeOut,
The Best American Travel Writing ]

Welcome to the Palace

Herods outdoor pools

Devora and Nina poolside

General manager Yossi Sudry and
assistant Glenda Ron

Play The Sultan
At Herods Palace

E are sitting on the balcony, tasting a warm breeze from the Red Sea in the distance. Actually ahead of us is the Gulf of Aqaba. Look left and there is Jordan, and the summer palace of King Abdullah II in the town of Aqaba. Turn right and there in the distance is the border of Egypt.

The balcony is at Herods Palace in Eilat, the southernmost town in Israel, a prime playground for vacationing American and European visitors.

There is no finer resort in all of Israel than Herods, part of the Sheraton chain. The minute you enter, you are made to feel royal. Every Thursday and Friday a costumed sultan, with his harem of gorgeous babes, sits on a throne in the lobby and welcomes incoming guests with fruit juice and refreshments.

Whether you disembark from your yacht in the harbor, alight from the jet in the local airport, or — like us — step out of your car after a four-hour spin from Jerusalem through the vast bleached Negev desert, the sultan greets you with fruit juice and refreshments before you present yourself at the registration desk.

Although lots to explore and enjoy in this port city, you may find yourself spending most of your time in the Herods complex.

The property consists of three huge structures: the Palace theme hotel with ultra comfortable rooms; the Vitalis, a boutique style hotel that caters to guests who seek a luxurious vacation with daily spa treatments, and the Forum, a private hotel with a convention center and facilities for business activities.

Every guest staying in a suite at the Palace has free access to Vitalis. I dropped in for a rejuvenating massage, and then chilled out in the restaurant with complimentary refreshments.

All three hotels have 463 rooms and also suites. Why not try the Royal Suite at Vitalis. It comes with VIP treatment including a private butler and limousine. Only $3,000. Rooms at the palace are in the $200-300 range. (Phone 972-7-638-0000)

Yossi Sudri, who’s been the general manager at Herods for vibrant seven years, maintains the upbeat spirit of the Palace to the delight of his guests. On days when the sultan reigns, the harem parades through the lobby and restaurants like a circus coming to town.

Don’t ask about the cuisine. We’ve never seen such abundance, especially at breakfast. The various serving stations in the main restaurant seemed to spill over with every type of dish imaginable.

Our four days at Herods Palace were the most wonderful four days we ever spent on vacation. Nina can’t wait for a return visit.


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The Big Island Offers
The Best Of Hawaii

By Ivor Davis and Sally Ogle Davis

HEN I asked Aven Wright-McKintosh, the PR lady at the Mauna Kea Resort, what she felt was the biggest attraction of Hawaii’s Big Island, she offered this mantra: "Beaches, beaches and more beaches."

She was right. And wrong. The beaches are indeed fabulous but there’s more, much more. In two weeks on the Big Island, we pretty much saw and sampled everything, careering from one end to the other in an orgy of discovery.

The Big Island is far and away the most fascinating and diverse of all the Hawaiian Islands. Any place that can offer 11 different microclimates in an area the size of Connecticut is inspiring.

You land at Kona Airport—in the middle of miles of black lava rock as far as the eye can see. But drive just a short while and you’re on winding coastal roads green enough to make you believe you’ve landed in Ireland. Then a few miles more and it’s lush rain forest.

Drive over the mountain to the south side of the island and it can get downright chilly and wild. And then of course there’s that rip roaring Kilauea Volcano, Pele, the god of the volcano that never sleep. Over the past quarter century he has been unleashing his technicolor wonders of nature 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No appointment necessary.

From a safe vantage at a lookout in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you can see the lava flowing. It’s $10 for a three-day pass per car. Don’t miss the Visitor’s Center where movies show the volcano in all its incandescent fury.

The day we went it was drizzling so all we could see was lava spilling into the sea and sending up a towering column of white hissing steam. Not a bad show but on a clear day you can see forever and on a clear night it beats any Fourth of July fireworks.

Ten years ago while covering the volcano as a news story I was able to stand in front of the creeping lava as it relentlessly chewed up houses, gardens and highways.

This time, with a less urgent schedule, we stayed overnight in the Kilauea Lodge Hotel—a terrific bargain at $130 a night for an immaculate cottage on the golf course with a fantastic full breakfast thrown in.

We could only spend one night but there was so much more to see. In two weeks we covered the waterfront—and came up with our own, admittedly subjective, Best of the Big Island List.


The spectacular Kilauea Volcano

The Best List

French toast: Made with exotic breads like Papaya Bread at the Kilauea Lodge Restaurant.

Snorkel beach: Mauna Lani Hotel Beach Club.

Snorkel beach for kids: The King’s Pond at Four Seasons Hotel.

Most exotic and hardest to reach beach: The black sand at Waipi’oValley.

Most luxurious hotel rooms: The Four Seasons.

Most serene, upscale genuinely Hawaiian atmosphere: The Mauna Kea Hotel.

Pre-dinner drinks, particularly the fulsome martinis and hors d’oeuvres tray—plus great jazz piano: The Lava Lounge at The Four Seasons.

Best bread: Punalu’u Bakeshop in the town of Na’alehu.

Best Hawaiian wine: Volcano Blush from Volcano Winery.

Best hot dinner rolls: The rosemary, olive oil hot rolls at the Kawaihae Harbor Grill.

Kings Pond at the Four Seasons Hotel

Best Mai Tai: Kona Inn.

Best Hawaiian shirt: Cooke Street, Honolulu ($l7.99 at Costco).

Best fruit: Apple-bananas and local pineapple.

Best snorkel instructor: Ola Shaw, Mauna Lani Hotel.

Best pizza: Merryman’s at Waikaloa Queens Shopping Village.

Best public beach: Hapuna Beach.

Best meal: Daniel Thibaut’s restaurant at Waimea and Bamboo in Hawaii.

Best restaurant bang for your buck: Solimene’s, the Italian restaurant in a strip mall in Waimea (bring your own wine).

Best Japanese food: Tashima, on Mamalaho Highway, north of Kona.

Best free art exhibit: The Rockefeller collection at the Mauna Kea Hotel (reservations needed for daily tours.)

Best eclectic food with entertainment: Pesto Café in Hilo.


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Travel Guides

By Tim Boxer

30 Days in the Pacific: True Stories of Escape to Paradise (Travelers’ Tales, 265 pages, $14.95) is a wonderful collection of articles from various travelers who try to probe the mystique of Oceania, that area of the South Pacific made up of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Western travelers to such exotic sites as Bora Bora, Tahiti, the Fiji and Samoa islands find themselves in a different dimension where they immediately fall into a state of mind that is loose and open to change. This book is the next best thing to being there.

Travel Writing (Lonely Planet, 272 pages, $18.99) is an excellent guide for every one who wants to turn his voyages of discovery into a journal for readers in newspapers, magazines or on the web. At the same time Don George’s book is highly entertaining, packed as it is with many examples of skillful travel writing and interviews with professional travel writers.

Urban Travel Photography (Lonely Planet, 174 pages, $16.99) challenges you to look at any city you’re visiting with a sharp eye in order to come home with a unique pictorial record of your trip. It takes a trained eye to produce outstanding images of the urban landscape, and this book will help immensely. From the type of gear you need, to preparations before you embark, and instructions on shooting architecture, skylines, landmarks, fountains, shops, nightlife and beaches, author Richard I’Anson will make you a more competent photographer of the city scene.

Hungary (Lonely Planet, 5th edition, 424 pages, ($21.99) is a must-have if you’re on the way to visit this beautiful land. Jammed with lots of tips: don’t bother bringing a tie – you’ll never use it. The people are quite casual; some go to the opera in denim. The maps are quite useful and the photos sprinkled throughout the pages are pleasingly colorful.

TimeOut Shortlist London, TimeOut Shortlist Rome, TimeOut Shortlist Paris, TimeOut Shortlist Barcelona and TimeOut Shortlist New York (each $11.95) are hip-pocket booklets packed with information on what’s new, what’s on, and what’s next for 2007 at these ever popular, fast changing destinations.. Each mini-guide covers sights and museums, itineraries, nightlife, arts and leisure, shopping, eating and drinking, and recommended hotels for any budget.

The Best American Travel Writing is a wonderful collection edited by Tim Cahill, founding editor of Outside magazine. Among the contributors are such outstanding writers as Gary Shteyngart, P.J. O’Rourke, Calvin Trillin And David Sedaris from such publications as The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, Gourmet, GQ and national Geographic Adventure. A fine treasure trove of humorous and adventurous essays that inspire you to see things in a different light when abroad. (Houghton Mifflin, 352 pages, paper, $14)

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