Amirey Hagalil – the Story of a Galilean Boutique Hotel
The Amirey Hagalil Hotel got its start during the 1980′s. The proprietors wanted to establish an equestrian farm with a small cafeteria on road 866 that goes up to Safed and Mt. Meron, adjacent to Amirim village, in the Upper Galilee.
The structure was planned in the style of a Khan – two “r” shaped wings with covered corridors and an assortment of arches around an expansive internal courtyard housing an ancient olive tree, and a viewing terrace to complete the “ח” shape. The views overlooked from the structure face the south – the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.
After considerable thought it was decided to change the designation of the site to tourism and vacations. The eight stables on the lower level, overlooking the scenery, were transformed into 8 accommodation units each having a view from the terrace, Jacuzzi and lawn. The ground floor cafeteria was transformed into a wide expansive restaurant and the other area around the open courtyard was planned for future accommodation units for later execution.
The site was operated in this format for many years as a small motel combined with artistic activity such as appearances and Kabalat Shabbat (here, the group “Sheva” and the singer Moshe Ben Ari got their start). The demand for a spa and health treatments led to the next level of “Spa Hotel”: The unutilized section and the viewing terrace on the upper level of the ground floor became the treatment center, and additional floor was built with a Galilean tile roof around the inside courtyard where the sauna and spa and accommodation units were planned, facing the view. The upper level was also planned in the “ח” shape with a large terrace facing the view. This level was also combined in the motif of covered passageways with arched openings that view the internal courtyard from above. The roofing material used for the internal courtyard is transparent and became the hotel lobby. The lower level ground floor vacation units were transformed into 4 spacious units each with a private yard, facing the view.
Just by knowing a number of simple planning rules, and without any additional cost, the building functions as a “green” energy saving building. Placement of windows at a southern, southwestern or southeast exposure, appropriate shading, exterior wall insulation together with thick walls contributes to temperature restraint in the summer and accumulation of solar energy in the winter and planning that allows natural ventilation – all of these factors were implemented in the planning, starting with the first pencil mark and through every change of function.
In the lobby, you can sense the beauty and power of nature.
The guests sitting in the lobby surrounded by hypnotic mirrors, glaring green, the blue of the Sea of Galilee and the intoxicating scents during the entire year.
And yes, inside of a little more than 20 years, the horse farm and small cafeteria structure transformed into a spa hotel with 16 accommodation units with breathtaking views seen from every direction. Across from the abundance of shapes and functions that the building wore and removed, only the old olive tree planted in the center of the courtyard is left as it was…
Natan On-Bar, Architect