By Robin B. Zeiger, Ph.D.
In Emek Hefer I often stumble upon the most out of the way and unusual places. I discovered one such hidden secret on my way to the dry cleaner on Kibbutz HaOgen. I was wandering when I noticed a sign, Shamaim Ba'aretz (literally Heaven on Earth). How can one resist such an invitation? One day I just stopped in again as the reporter for Partnership 2000. It was a great excuse to get the inside scoop. Ella Regev, mother of the owner and director of marketing graciously dropped what she was doing and invited us to a full tour.
Shamaim Ba'aretz is a spa and holistic retreat center, providing unique massages paired with a gourmet meal, specialized workshops, and a total experience aimed at pampering and relaxation. Upon entering,, one is immediately transported to another place and time. I was reminded of an image out of one of my favorite childhood television shows, I Dream of Jeannie. One surely feels as if they have arrived at a place where a genie will attend to you.
Our first stop was the main hall; a place bathed in soft lights and covered with flowing curtains. Soft relaxing music helped create a peaceful ambiance. Several private, small dining areas lined the main hall, all complete with their own cushions and low tables. One room sported a more traditional table and chairs, for those folks who can't quite make it to the floor.
Ella explains that much of their business is for individuals, couples and groups who come for a total massage experience. First, guests are treated to the first course of an elegant dairy Italian meal. The food is baked on the premises and includes focaccia, cheese, salad from vegetables grown in the area, and a cool drink. Wine is also a possibility. (By the way, just in case you were wondering, the food is under the highest of rabbinic supervision.)
After this relaxing appetizer, the guests are welcomed to their massage experience. Shamaim Ba'aretz houses beautiful and peaceful massage rooms, replete with showers and a luxurious bath-tub. Special bath and massage oils are available. They are many types of massages and alternative treatments to choose from, including reflexology, head and neck massage, Swedish massage, medical massage, deep tissue massage, and aromatherapy.
After the massage, if the guest hasn't fallen into a deep sleep, s/he returns to finish the meal. Some of their specialties include four types of fish and fresh cooked vegetables.
Ella explains with a smile that there are many types of guests. The establishment is known for special retreats for couples. It is a wonderful way to celebrate an anniversary. A his-and-her massage can even be done side-by side in the same room.
Sometimes individuals reserve the place for a special surprise birthday party. If the guests are all lucky, they are treated to a massage. But sometimes, only the birthday celebrant has a massage. Afterwards, he or she is surprised with friends who join for the dinner celebration. By the way, sometimes they are open until 2 a.m. for that special party.
Just when I think the tour is over, Ella takes me into another room that bespeaks of a magical place of the past. It is a beautiful rectangular room with decorative carpeting and pillows all over the floor. This, she explains, is for workshops. Companies (e.g banks, hi-tech, etc.) come to Shamaim Ba'aretz for various team- workshops. .Sometimes they are pure relaxation. Sometimes the goal is for team building and education.. Examples include understanding body language, belly dancing, numerology, diagnostic painting (the meeting of the conscious and unconscious), humor, improvisation, relaxation, and integration and team-building.
Have I convinced you yet? Are you ready to come? How much does it cost you ask? A three hour experience that includes, dinner and a 40 minute massage is 300 shekels for an individual and 580 shekels for a couple. A 5 hour experience with an hour massage is 520 shekels for a couple and 890 shekels for a couple. I know where I want to take Jonathan for our next anniversary.
It's worth coming to Emek Hefer just for this. Check out their website for more information and to make a reservation. It is all in Hebrew. But Ella speaks excellent English. So you can always call her at 011-972-700-700-640. .