People from all over the world and all walks of life have been drawn to the Dead Sea’s otherworldly landscape and healing powers. To say the destination has stood the test of time would be a bit cliché, given its historic ties to the Bible and scientific proof that the magnesium- and mineral-rich water is linked to improving circulation and skin hydration reducing inflammation and alleviating a variety of illnesses. At its core, there’s also the simple pleasure of effortlessly floating around against the backdrop of the Moav Mountains and watching the day go by in the cradle of human civilization.

The quality and amenities of Dead Sea hotels, however, were afterthoughts. As recently as a decade ago, most lodgings generally had a stark, no-frills vibe and outdated, dark decor that contradicted the rich treasures found within the Dead Sea. Thankfully, with so much potential for increased spa and medical travel in the last decade, the Isrotel Hotel Group was among the hoteliers responding to the demands of international travelers who could afford the test the spa waters around the world.  Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel & Spa has helped shift that paradigm with the care put in to the ambiance and amenities. While this hotel and other top-rated properties have a way to go before being on a par with five-star hotels in spa destinations elsewhere, it is both a step up and several steps in the right direction.

On arrival, guests are reminded of the region’s natural assets through intricate date palms and fruit carved into wood along the walls. The entry, adorned with sculptural mid-century light fixtures, opens out into open, airy spaces with mid-century modern furniture in warm, tasteful desert hues that flow into the lounge. The Zer Hazahav Restaurant (the main dining room) serves far-above average buffets with selections that satisfy the tastes and needs of omnivores, Kosher, and Halal palates alike. The Ranch House (its fine dining restaurant) provides a more “date night” kind of eating experience, while the bright and cheerful Lobby Bar features live entertainment on most nights. Other public areas include a kids’ club game room, fitness room, and nicely appointed function rooms and business facilities.

Private rooms are bright, calming, and fresh—especially the upgraded rooms on the upper “Moab” floors, with nicer amenities and access to the business lounge. The décor has just the right amount of sophistication without being overdone, with a cool pale green, turquoise, and brown color scheme that offsets the sunrise views from good-sized balconied rooms, making hitting the beach and floating away all the more exciting. Another smart design feature in most of the rooms is a view facing the sea rather than the other hotels, so guests can appreciate this special beach as the higher authorities may have intended it. Walking out onto the balcony reveals that the beachfront just downstairs is clean and well maintained, making the all-important dip more welcoming. The bathrooms are simple, but nicely appointed in sandy shades continuing the desert sensibility.

The property’s old school but well-run Esprit Spa offers a menu of treatments, wellness programs and services blending Middle Eastern and European influences expressed through time-tested spa modalities with products made with locally sourced muds, minerals, and botanical components taken right from the source. The facility also incorporates skin-soothing steam rooms, Dead Sea water pools, Jacuzzis, and sulphur baths. Outdoor landscaping, meanwhile, includes real grass, gardens, and an outdoor pool that evokes the Dead Sea itself, down to its curvaceous shape and seawater filling it up.

Beyond the real-life oasis of the hotel’s private beach leading to the Dead Sea (easily accessible by golf cart or on foot), there is easy access to the historical Masada, Qumran Caves and hiking trails of the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve or Nahal Arugot. The arrival of higher end hotels like this one has also given way to the staging of numerous festivals and mass concerts (such as the Israeli Opera Festival) at venues in The Dead Sea area and in Masada.