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Leonardo Hotels Cooking For Friends in Israel: Discover Jerusalem, work in Tel Aviv, and relaxation at the Dead Sea

Berlin/Tel Aviv, September 2009 – Invited by the David Fattal, CEO Fattal Hotels / Leonardo Hotels, a group of prominent actresses and actors conquered the most fascinating places in Israel in only three days. Leonardo Hotels, which made its mark on the German market in 2007 and which at present manages more than 60 hotels in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Israel, issued the invitation to the Cooking for Friends event. Or rather the president of the hotel group, David Fattal, driven by great ambition and enormous power and progress, who founded Fattal Hotels eleven years ago. It was his desire to bring his prominent German guests closer to his fascinating home country, to connect the metropolises of Tel Aviv and Berlin, and thereby link up his new hotels Leonardo Boutique Hotel Tel Aviv and Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin verbinden.

After previous excursions to destinations such as Rome, Paris, Mauritius and Namibia, the 16th Cooking for Friends is terra incognita for the guests, and is intended to teach them more about the people and country, and above all the cuisine. The intensive programme included a visit to one of Israel’s most famous artists, Ilana Goor who, when she is not in her second home in New York designing accessories for Donna Karan, lives and works in the museum she has created in a 250 year old building in Jaffa port. In addition to a wine tasting in Pri Hagefen, the participants experienced a cooking course run by Eitan Mizrachi, the head chef of the new Leonardo Boutique Hotel, in the exclusive beach bar atmosphere in Tel Aviv’s current ‘in’ club the Klara Bar, followed by a fantastic dinner in the Leonardo Boutique Hotel Tel Aviv restaurant. In Jerusalem they strolled from the Mount of Olives and through the Garden of Gethsemane to the Wailing Wall and subsequently to the Via Dolorosa which, with the 14 Stations of the Cross, winds its way through the narrow alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem. At and in the Dead Seat the prominent study group relaxed in mud and sea salt, tasted the cuisine of the Le Meridien David, also part of the Fattal Group, and got to know the desert from the back of a camel.

“Tel Aviv is famous as the city that never sleeps - and how true that is” laughs Anja Kruse.

Helmut Zierl, who is on his first visit to Israel, is also deeply impressed: “Ms Goor’s museum made a big impact on me and I want to come back here again as this is indeed a fascinating country”.

Countess Mariella von Faber – Castell, who took part in the short excursion with her husband Patrick - but without their two children - was fascinated by the colourfulness of the country and its opportunities: “I was impressed by everything saw, above all Jerusalem, not only because of its great history, but also because we visited one interesting place after another. One thing is certain, I will gladly come again. I have tried to photograph everything to show my children and friends. Not only the Wailing Wall but also the Stations of the Cross, which I otherwise only know from the Bible and from films and reports.”

Their best friends, colleague Gerit Kling with her husband Stefan Henning, whose grandmother was a Jew, but who had never before managed to travel to Israel and discover his roots commented: “I have discovered places of contemplation here. At the Wailing Wall, but also in the Garden of Gethsemane, one reaches a stage where one has a feeling of absolute peace - wonderful.” Gerit Kling feels much the same: “I was not brought up religiously, neither Catholic nor Protestant, indeed I am an absolute pagan who grew up in East Germany. I am familiar with the history of the Bible but it was never before so tangible and real for me.”

“Do they always eat so well? Incredible!” Angelika Atzorn does not believe it. “All the starters taste wonderful, one can’t have enough of them and one wants to try everything. They all taste fantastic and one follows the other until there is no room for more. A great idea for guests at home. We made hors d’oeuvres on the cooking course such as eggplant with falafel in tahini, yoghurt and tomatoes. We have friends who taught me how to use chick peas and falafel for starters - I must try it again. The Dead Sea was an extraordinary experience for me. I had the idea that I wanted most of all to roll myself into a ball, like a baby in the womb. Impossible of course, one burns one’s eyes in salt water. One is in so a weightless state that I had sore muscles from trying to keep my head out of the water.”

Her husband Robert Atzorn thought a long time about joining the trip to Israel. “Israel is linked with mixed feelings for us post-war children, and with a great deal of guilt in respect of the Jewish people. I hesitated a long time about flying to Israel, because I was afraid of experiencing strong aversion against Germans. That feeling has disappeared completely. We were warmly welcomed by the Leonardo hotel chain in both Israel and Berlin, and were generously looked after - well beyond my expectations and experience. We had no unpleasant experiences - the opposite was the case. I liked the Leonardo Royal in Berlin so much that I would immediately book in here for months of filming.”

After three intensive days in Israel the VIP group flew with El Al, accompanied by David Fattal personally, direct to the opening of the Leonardo Royal in Berlin, where they were able to regale their colleagues Christoph M. Ohrt, Claudia Wenzel, Thure Riefenstein, Maren Gilzer und Egon F. Freiheit and hotel manager Gabriele Maessen with their inspiring experiences. The Leonardo Royal is the first hotel in the superior category, located near Alexanderplatz, and the fourth hotel of the group in Berlin. Daniel Roger, General Manager of Leonardo Hotels Europe, is proud of the showpiece of the Leonardo chain and plans further houses in this category: “At the end of 2010 the Leonardo Royal Hotel Munich as second Royal, with 426 rooms, will open near the Olympiapark in Munich.”

The Fattal hotel chain began 12 years ago as a management company and to date owns 31 hotels in Israel and 32 in Western Europe. This takeover secures the dominant position of the hotel group in Israel as the leading hotel chain in the country with more than 20 % of room capacity on the market. The Leonardo chain now owns more than 60 hotels with more than 12,000 rooms. The Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin greets its guests in an exceptional atmosphere - a building protected by conservation order combined with a tasteful interior, restaurant, bar and lounge as well as a super spa area.

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Leonardo Hotels, Heimgartenstraße 14, D-81539 Munich
Contact: Sandra Dreher, Julia Jost
Tel.: +49 89-62 03 97 14, www.leonardo-hotels.com