Ben-Gurion International Airport is on its way to getting its first hotel. Brown Hotels, a chain of 13 properties, won Sunday through competitive bidding the right to build and operate a hotel adjacent to the airport’s main Terminal 3.
The hotel will be walking distance from the terminal. Under its 25-year contract it will be able to offer guests advance check-in for their flights as well as luggage transfer to and from the terminal.
It will occupy a 7.5-dunam (1.9-acre site) just west of Terminal 3, close to the railway station. It will include 200 guest rooms, a conference center, a spa and gym as well as bars and restaurants in keeping with Brown’s boutique hotel style. The chain already operates the spa in the airport’s King David Lounge.
“The hotel won’t be built in a day. We need to start from scratch, but I hope it will be standing within four years,” said Leon Avigad, founder and co-owner of Brown Hotels. “We’re excited about being the only hotel at the airport, but we are aware we face a challenge — to keep people at a hotel at Ben-Gurion, when Tel Aviv is just a half an hour away.”
Avigad said the goal is “to build a hotel that will bring Tel Aviv to Ben-Gurion with cool design and affordable rates,” which he termed as between 100 and 120 euros ($111-$133) a night without breakfast.
“People will be happy to spend the night before or after their flight or to hold conferences there. It won’t be an ordinary, boring airport hotel, but one with atmosphere,” Avigad said.
The contract that Brown was awarded came after two previous requests for proposals issued by the Israel Airports Authority failed to elicit any bids. The third request, published in November, was based on a design, build, operate and transfer model that would enable the winner to qualify for investment subsidies of between 20% and 33%.
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To do that, the Finance Ministry had to agree to designate the hotel site as a preferred investment zone under the Law for Encouraging Investment. The Tourism Ministry is the entitled to offer aid, which starts at 20% of the investment cost but can grow by another 13 percentage points if it’s three stars or under.
In addition, the IAA will provide a 40 million shekel ($11.5 million). Under the transfer part of the DBOT contract, the IAA will get control of the hotel after 25 years.
“Airport hotels at many world airports are part of the service they provide to passengers, business people, flight crews and tourist groups,” said Yoram Shapira, deputy director for commerce and business development at IAA.
“Developing a hotel will raise Ben-Gurion Airport to the ranks of the world’s leading airports,” he said.
Shapira noted the hotel’s central location near Tel Aviv and other major cities as well as easy access to public transportation.
Founded in 2010, Brown Hotels operates 13 properties in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Croatia. Its website says it plans to develop hotels in Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece, Germany and Britain as well as in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat.