A new artistic tourism collaboration between the city of Tel Aviv and Atlas Hotels will bring new meaning to the term “boutique hotel.”
This winter, an off-season lifeguard shack on the Bograshov Beach in central Tel Aviv is getting converted into a one-room Pixel Hotel. The Pixel urban development concept originated in Austria as a way of repurposing interesting but unused premises – such as a storefront, a workshop or a garage.
The lifeguard shack, the first Pixel Hotel in Israel and probably in the Middle East, is expected be one of several off-season Tel Aviv spaces to be transformed into tourist accommodations. It’s meant for December to early spring, when lifeguards are off duty and the Mediterranean water is too cold for swimming.
Israeli artists Lilach Chitayat, Alan Chitayat and Anat Safran, who will work with the municipality and the boutique hotel chain to develop the project, are also looking to convert unused city water towers in neighboring Jaffa into Pixel Hotels.
“We thought it would be wonderful to do this idea on the beach of Tel Aviv,” says Michael Hay, who represents Atlas Hotels through his development firm Vision Hospitality.
A ‘sleeping experience’
It’s perfectly in line with the brand of small hotels he helps develop for Atlas, Hay tells ISRAEL21c. The company runs 10 design and art hotels, mainly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The boutique concept started in Israel 40 years ago, and over the last six years or so has seen an upward swing as visitors seek distinctive and even quirky places to lodge.
“The main issue here is that people are not looking for a sleeping solution; they are looking for a sleeping experience,” says Hay. “We are providing a variety of experiences that are built around and comprised of many different aspects that provide a unique and memorable experience.”
Atlas properties include the Cinema and Artplus Hotels in Tel Aviv, and the Harmony in Jerusalem. Hay’s favorite so far is the Shalom and Relax, located in front of the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Five more hotels, including one in an old property in Haifa, are now undergoing development.
One little room on the beach
The new Pixel Hotel is to be part of Tel Aviv’s Art City 2012 project showcasing art and art-related events throughout the year.
Hay notes that a stay in a Pixel Hotel is not meant to be overly expensive — about NIS 1,000 per night, or $260. While reservations aren’t being taken yet, he has gotten a lot of inquiring phone calls. People do need to be aware of what they are getting themselves into, he notes.
“Of course there are security concerns,” he says, ” and yes, it’s not for everyone. It’s an adventure but we are also taking some precautions with video cameras and double locks. At the end of the day, people need to know they are coming to a place that is a bit avant-garde, but it’s also one little room on the beach.”
If the concept takes off, it could bring new life to the 1970s macho image of the Israeli lifeguard, a “legendary myth in Tel Aviv,” Hay says. These were the suntanned and muscular young men trying to impress the beach babes eating watermelon and playing matcot, an Israeli paddleboard sport, on the sand.
While other lifeguards sit on high chairs, the Tel Aviv lifeguard gets his own small shack. And some lucky lifeguard will get to use the Pixel Hotel as his station next summer.