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Business Travel Guide: Tel Aviv, Israel

Founded in 1909 on the empty sands of today's crowded beaches, Tel Aviv combines the intensity of Manhattan and the wild nightlife of Rio. Its round-the-clock activity takes place inside a thriving metropolis of commerce, high-tech, fashion and service industries. Known to locals as "The Big Orange," the city's cultural life is always in high gear. Four theaters, including the famous Habimah (currently showcasing its repertory of plays at an alternative space while its main hall undergoes renovations), museums that display artwork from Picasso to the latest avant-garde photographer, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tel Aviv Opera House make this city a high-class destination on a par with London and New York. On any given night you'll find crowds flowing from hall to performance space to café,  restaurant and jazz bar, set against a backdrop of the stunning Mediterranean shoreline. If you thought Tel Aviv was all about politics, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.

Safety Note:

Tel Aviv is a dynamic city that welcomes travelers from around the globe; it is also a destination where personal safety can be an issue. Check with your embassy or consulate for current security information when planning your trip, and be aware of your surroundings while traveling around the city, particularly in busy, crowded areas.


Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency:

Since 1985 the new Israeli shekel (NIS) has been the currency of Israel, with one NIS equal to 1,000 old sheqalim (sheqalim is the plural of shekel); the old shekel replaced the Israeli pound in 1980. Issued by the Bank of Israel, the NIS comes in NIS 20, NIS 50, NIS 100 and NIS 200 notes. Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 5 and 10. The NIS is further divided into 100 agorot, with 5, 10 and 50 agorot coins.

Transportation:

Taxis
Approximately ten miles southeast of the city, Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) serves Tel Aviv's international visitors. Taxis from the airport into the city operate under the Israel Airport Authority; regulated taxis are recommended. Fixed fares to central areas run approximately $20 and include one suitcase, with a small supplement for each additional bag. Fares increase slightly when Shabbat begins on Fridays. Those flying domestically will most likely use Dov Hoz Airport, north of Tel Aviv.

Public Transportation
Until a subway is completed in 2012, public transportation consists of buses and an evolving train system. Bus travel is quick and convenient but pay attention to the current security situation. A fare costs 3.50 shekels with a small discount for multiple-ride card. The locals are always willing to answer questions about where to go and how to get there; it's an Israeli character trait.   The mass transit train system is in the process of being developed, and inaugural lines can be accessed at Terminal 3 of Ben Gurion Airport. The train to downtown takes approximately ten minutes. Keep in mind that Shabbat will affect public transportation schedules.

Car Rental
Car rental counters are located on the first floor of the East Gallery in the Greeter's Hall at Ben Gurion Airport. Avis, Budget and Hertz are among the companies represented.

Information:

For Israel-centric and Middle Eastern news, two print newspapers have online editions: The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz. Both have business sections that incorporate regional and international news.


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Where to Stay

Dan Tel Aviv
99 Hayarkon St.
800-223-7773 (U.S.), 972-3-520-2552
www.danhotels.com
Dan Tel Aviv

In a city with just a few high-end hotels, Dan Tel Aviv is in the top tier. Like most major lodgings in the city, this one is just steps from the beach, which adds a holiday flair to even the most staid of business visits. The 286 accommodations include Executive Sea View Rooms, Luxury Suites, a Presidential Suite and a Royal Suite. Signature La Regence, which reopened in 2005, serves modern Israeli cuisine influence by classic techniques and flavors from the Mediterranean kitchen—consider this restaurant for important business dinners. Recreation includes spa treatment rooms, an indoor freshwater pool and an outdoor seawater pool overlooking beach.

David InterContinental Tel Aviv
12 Kaufman St.
888-IC HOTELS (U.S.), 972-3-795-1111
www.ichotelsgroup.com
David InterContinental Tel Aviv

This well-located hotel on the Mediterranean coastline, in the bustling Neve Tzedek neighborhood, is known for its massive convention space and sea-view rooms. The 555 guestrooms and 39 suites include Executive Club accommodations, with complimentary buffet breakfast, cocktail hour, snacks and even the use of a meeting space. WiFi and high-speed Internet access provide office-away-from-office convenience, while a gym, spa and outdoor pool serve guests during downtime hours. The atrium lobby includes a sushi bar, Inca Cigar Bar features English club style and Aubergine is the elegant onsite Mediterranean eatery.

Hilton Tel Aviv
Independence Park
972-3-520-2222
www.hilton.com
Hilton Tel Aviv

With its seaside setting, this hotel joins ranks with the others on our list. It resides in Independence Park, overlooking a marina, and is considered one of the top executive hotels in the city. The business amenities are impressive: limousine airport transfers; express check-in and check-out; child-free executive floors; meetings rooms; business cards printed in Hebrew; and personalized outgoing voicemail messages. There is also a comprehensive range of travel conveniences, from airline desk to car rental counter. King Solomon Grill is a highly rated Kosher dining venue, and Yakimono Sushi Bar provides a nice alternative to the area's typical Mediterranean-flavored menus.

Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel
121 Hayarkon St.
972-3-521-5555
www.marriott.com
Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel

This hotel is our pick if you're looking for a little more style with your substance. It offers 342 guestrooms and suites, most with private balconies and impressive views of the Mediterranean Sea or Jaffa. For business travelers, offerings include wireless Internet access; Executive Club Rooms come with a special welcome, coffee corners and more. Jaffa Terrace makes a pleasant lunch venue, while Sabres Restaurant serves regional cuisine in a setting perfect for small, low-key business gatherings. Meeting spaces include the Africa Hall, with seating for up to 250. At the comprehensive Health Club, you will find fitness equipment and a range of spa treatments.

Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers
115 Hayarkon St.
972-3-521-1111
www.starwoodhotels.com

Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers
A multi-million dollar renovation gave this hotel the boost it needed to compete with the city's major players. The 337 accommodations (featuring balconies) include the Sheraton Towers, a deluxe hotel within the hotel, offering upgraded rooms, a private reservation area and dedicated lounge. For business travelers, amenities range from a 24-hour communications center to wireless high-speed Internet access. Eleven rooms offer space for banquets and meetings; and if you need a venue for a business lunch or dinner, you'll find Olive Leaf, serving regional cuisine, Kum Kum, with an international buffet, and the Tango Club and lobby piano bar for casual drinks and networking. Two scenic pools make sure Jack is never a dull boy.

Where to Dine

Catit
4 Hichal haTalmud
972-3- 510-7001

$$$$$ 

Located in a building that housed the first Tel Aviv hotel, Catit was recently voted the city's best restaurant. Meir Adoni (also selected as Tel Aviv's finest chef) combines the prestige of classical French Cuisine with the flavors of his Moroccan homeland. With its sheer drapes looking out onto a candlelit courtyard, a huge selection of wines and warm elegant service, Catit is a high-class dining experience worthy of international business travelers who have come to know and expect both great food and service.


Manta Ray
Southern Tel Aviv Promenade (Alma Beach)
972-3-517-4773

$$$$$

Manta Ray is a crowded, relaxed breeze of a place, with an Israeli clientele that comes in from as far off as Jerusalem just to take in the seafront backdrop that can be enjoyed from either the indoor or outdoor seating areas. The menu offers a smorgasbord of appetizers, seasoned seafood dishes and gourmet wines, making it a perfect setting for either a business lunch or a family outing. Restaurant-savvy Israelis swear it has the most romantic setting in the country.


Messa
19 Ha Arba'ah St.
972-3-685-6859

 $$$$$

This ode to haute style is one of the most beautifully designed eateries in the country. Framed by diaphanous white curtains, Messa is a place where diners can enjoy chef Aviv Moshe's modern dishes, such as seafood gnocchi, veal sweetbreads, and black cod in miso, not to mention the goose liver on a Belgian waffle for dessert. While drinkers raise glasses in the sleek black bar, businessmen impress their clients while studying the local beau monde. A large communal table in the center is the perfect place to network.


Moses American Kitchen
35 Rothschild Blvd.
972-3-566-4949

$$$$$

This upscale American-style restaurant is located on the Western end of chic Rothschild Boulevard and offers a rich selection of steaks, burgers and chicken dishes that pulls in an eclectic clientele. Perfect for a business lunch or a late night meeting. Take a seat on the balcony with its polished wooden floors for your meal, but first be sure to step up to the dimly-lit, elegant bar and choose from an array of interesting cocktails.


Olive Leaf
Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers
115 Hayarkon
972-03-521-1111

$$$$$

For hotel dining, this is our top choice. The kosher menu means you can woo clients from all walks of life—without sacrificing taste—during the prix fixe lunch. Décor is simple, in shades of blue and light brown, matching the views of sand, sea and sky, which you'll gaze on from nearly every table. French technique and seasonal produce add to the appeal.


Off the Clock

Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv
99 Dizengoff St.
972-3-522-0249
www.bauhaus-center.com

To fully understand the breadth of the Bauhaus influence on Tel Aviv, we recommend touring this museum and taking one of its walking tours through The White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The signature architecture, which dates from the 1930s to the 1950s, provides a striking contrast to the ancient streets of Old Jaffa.

Eretz Israel Museum Complex
2 Haim Levanon St.
www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/

Eretz Israel Museum ComplexThis small "village" of museums was founded in the early 1950s and offers insight into many aspects of Israeli culture and history. The Glass Pavilion houses a comprehensive selection of ancient glass vessels, and the Ethnography and Folklore Pavilion sheds light on Judaic artifacts used in religion rituals. You can tour an ancient olive oil plant, flour mill and the Qasile Excavations, an archeological site over 3,000 years old.

Jaffa

Jaffa—the oldest recorded port in the world (documents attest to its existence as far back as 1600 B.C.)—is just a stroll away from modern Tel Aviv. The coastal tayalet (promenade) swerves above the sandy beaches of southern Tel Aviv and brings you right into the Jaffa Marina, with its multiple fish restaurants and old wind-battered buildings—crumbling testaments to Jaffa's historical heyday. Lean over the guard rail, or stand next to one of the old mummy-necked fishermen and gaze at waves crashing into Andromeda's Rock; this was the debarkation point for Holy Land travel over the centuries. Rowboats used to collect passengers, luggage, and dreams for the final bumpy ride to shore; now cruise ships and jet planes glide past towards points unknown. Visit the massive Jaffa Flea Market where you can experience the true Middle-Eastern mentality and haggle about prices for a beautiful Middle-Eastern carpet, or one of the gaudy trinkets that line the sidewalks.  Cafes are everywhere in Jaffa ; Arab bakeries churn out hot loaves of delicious bread 24-hours-a-day (try the one drenched in olive-oil and sprinkled with za-atar (a blend of herbs, sesame seeds and salt). 

Nahalat Binyamin

Located in the heart of Tel Aviv, the Nahalat Binyamin outdoor pedestrian mall can rightfully be called the 'pulse' of Tel Aviv. On Tuesdays and Fridays hundred of stalls line both sides of the street and artsy owners hawk everything from hand carved cigarettes boxes and Elvis Presley cuckoo-clocks to handmade silver jewelry and paintings of ancient Palestine. Dozens of cafés jostle for space along the swerving shady walkways. After downing a jolt of Arabic coffee or sampling a plate of labaneh (yogurt cheese) and za-atar inside a large pita bread, be sure to check out the fire-throwing jugglers who always draw a large, enthusiastic. Situated one block over from the colorful Carmel Souk (a massive fruit and vegetable market), and one congested street across from trendy Sheinkin Street, Nahalat Binyamin should not be missed.

The Suzanne Dellal Centre
972-3-5105656
www.suzannedellal.org.il

The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance & Theater, in the old Neveh Tsedek section of the city, gives off hints of a Middle Eastern courtyard with its scaffolding of oranges connected by rows of trees perched above gurgling blue water-fountains. It is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Two whitewashed buildings constructed at the turn of the 20th century have been converted into performance spaces. Families, dogs and fashion photographers (with statuesque models in tow), stroll or sit inside the tranquil atmosphere that seems far away from the crowded sidewalks and avenues close by. There are two cafés on the grounds: an Italian restaurant and an ice-cream shop. Signs on the sides of the buildings tell the fascinating story and history behind the Suzanne Dellal Center.



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* Top images courtesy of www.inisrael.com

P020806
(Updated: 11/06/12 BLS)

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