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New hotel aims to become center of Jerusalem diplomatic activity

Jewish Insider was given an exclusive look at The Theatron Hotel’s central feature: an expansive presidential duplex, replete with a panoramic view of southern Jerusalem and a private infinity pool on the roof

According to legend, when asked about appropriate parking arrangements for the Jerusalem Theater when it opened its doors in 1971, the city’s famed Mayor Teddy Kollek, who held office from 1965-1993, responded with a dismissive hand wave and the standard Israeli phrase: “It’ll work out.”

Fast forward to today: After more than five decades of serious parking problems around the city’s beloved cultural institution, a new 700-space lot has finally opened across the street, with a handy pedestrian bridge taking theatergoers right inside the complex.

While the lot is certainly convenient for those attending shows and a godsend for area residents, it is the entire new development that sits above the car park – across the street from the theater – that looks set to change the face of Talbiyeh, an upscale Jerusalem neighborhood where some of the Israeli capital’s most prestigious institutions are located.

The Theatron, a 99-room luxury hotel, which includes 26 sprawling suites, as well as three adjoining apartment complexes that benefit from the hotel’s services and amenities, partially opened last week.

Jewish Insider was given an exclusive look at the new hotel’s central feature: one of two 320-square-meter presidential duplexes, replete with an expansive living room, a dining room featuring a balcony that gives way to a panoramic view of southern Jerusalem and a private infinity pool on the roof.

Built by the Hassid Brothers Group, a Jerusalem-based developer, and managed by luxury French multinational hospitality company Accor as part of its MGallery Hotel Collection, the self-contained presidential suites are also directly accessible via private elevator from a secure area in the underground parking lot. It’s a feature that will make it attractive to those responsible for securing world leaders and other top officials visiting Israel.

“This is a very special place and a very special area,” Sharon Hassid, of the Hassid Brothers Group, which spent 13 years developing and building the project, told JI. “It is very urban and very Jerusalem-like, there’s a lot of nature, cultural sites and points of interest nearby.”

Hassid, whose father, Tzion, heads the company, pointed out such attractions as the theater, which is reflected in the interior design of the hotel; the Hansen House, a former leper colony that now hosts outdoor concerts and events; the Museum of Islamic Art; the Israel Democracy Institute, and the Presidential Residence, which sits just around the block. 

Also nearby is the official residence of the prime minister, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence, which is currently being used as his formal residence, and other commercial and culinary centers such as Emek Refaim and the First Station Compound, which are all within walking distance.

The Theatron Hotel

“Tourists, especially Israeli tourists, who come to Jerusalem want the classic Jerusalem vibe,” Hassid said. “If you go to the Old City, it is very tourist[y] and you don’t get to see what it’s really like to live in Jerusalem, the real flavor of Jerusalem.”

According to Hassid, who is developing three other similar hotel/apartment suites complexes in the city, the company’s policy is “only to build in Jerusalem.”

“We really believe in this city and, thank God, we’ve had some really good results,” he said.

Another draw at The Theatron Hotel is Sheldon Ritz. The former deputy general manager in charge of special delegations at the King David Hotel, the South African-born Ritz, who moved to Israel 30 years ago, plans to utilize his contacts and his experience to make sure that Theatron is the hotel of choice for all VIPs visiting the capital. 

Last week, a team from the U.S. Embassy toured the facility and gave it a stamp of approval as a possible location for visiting delegations, said Ritz, who left the King David Hotel during the pandemic and became general manager at the Vert Hotel in Jerusalem in 2021, before being hired to oversee the launch of the Theatron. 

“When I became general manager of the Vert Hotel, I sought to get embassies and government ministries to use that hotel,” Ritz, 55, told JI. “I kept my relationship with the embassies and even managed to bring Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to that hotel for lunch.”

Now he is turning his attention to the Theatron, which opened some of its rooms last week and hopes to be ready with most of its one- and two-room apartment suites within the next two months. The presidential suites should be completed by the end of the year, said Ritz.

“At this stage, we want all the agencies and embassies to come and see the hotel,” said Ritz, who is in the midst of planning an official launch party on June 20. “I think what sets this hotel apart is that it is in Talbiyeh far from the maddening tourist crowds and also because all the suites are directly accessible from the parking lot, which is paramount for security.”

Another selling point, according to Ritz, will be the service.

“We will be very focused on service, because that is what will make or break this place,” he said, highlighting that he handpicked many of the staff himself. “We will be commanding pretty high rates, and people will not want to pay if they don’t get top service.”

Ritz, who oversaw the visits of five U.S. presidents to Israel during his decades at the King David Hotel, added that he plans to take into account the budget limitations of foreign government embassies — rooms at the Theatron range from $600-$1,200 — but that he is aware that having such delegations stay in the hotel will boost its reputation.

“You can lose up to half a million dollars during a presidential visit,” he pointed out. “But you get spin-off from it for years to come.”

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