When I mention the name Mitzpe Ramon to most people, the first thought that comes to mind is either the Ramon Crater or the luxurious Beresheet hotel and spa. Undoubtedly, these attractions deserve all their accolades.
Bresheet Hotel overlooking the Crater. (Photo: getawaymavens.com)
Clients who have visited the Beresheet spa, an ultramodern pampering five-star resort hotel perched on the lip of the Ramon Crater, cannot stop gushing about their memorable experiences. I have been told that a few days spent relaxing in Beresheet is the perfect antidote to all of life’s stresses.
The other extraordinary attraction in this southern Negev town is the Ramon Crater, known to Israelis as the Machtesh. The Machtesh – a valley surrounded by steep walls that is over twenty-five miles long, five miles wide and 1,500 feet deep – is a geologist’s paradise and an incredible playground for outdoor enthusiasts who love four-wheeling, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, rappelling, and camel-riding.
The visitors’ center in Mitzpe Ramon boasts spectacular panoramic views of the crater, and houses a memorial and museum for Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who tragically died in 2003 when the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed. It is a most fitting setting for this museum, as the astronaut changed his last name to Ramon when he joined the air force, based on his love for this beautiful region.
The Ramon Crater (Photo: CC-BY-SA Avi Yotham, Wikipedia)
In addition to these wonderful tourist attractions, Mitzpe Ramon is gaining a reputation as an affordable neighborhood which offers its residents a wonderful quality of life.
Mitzpe Ramon was established in 1951 as a camp for the workers building the road to Eilat. In the 1960s, Mitzpe Ramon welcomed its first permanent residents, comprised primarily of immigrants from North Africa and Romania.
Mitzpe Ramon has grown to over 7,000 residents, boasts excellent schools, and enjoys a colorful demographic palette, comprised of original immigrant residents; soldiers associated with the nearby army base; hesder yeshiva faculty, students and their families (a hesder yeshiva combines Talmudic study with military service); and a growing population of artists attracted by the town’s lower living prices as well as the open vistas of the Ramon Crater, which provide stunning beauty, inspiration and endless artistic opportunities.
Religious life in this small town is flourishing, with eight synagogues covering a wide range of religious observance, plus a thriving hesder yeshiva which serves as a beacon of Torah for the town and the greater southern Negev region.
Over the past few years, the tech crowd has been attracted to Mitzpe Ramon, lured by the recent establishment of a media center campus by McAnn Erickson, one of the world’s premier advertising and digital marketing firms. Similarly, numerous academics, hi-techies, lawyers and other professionals live in Mitzpe Ramon and commute an hour to Beersheva, the unofficial capital of the Negev.
At its core, though, tourism remains the economic engine of Mitzpe Ramon, with seven existing hotels and more being planned. Consequently, there is always strong demand for English-speaking residents interested in careers in the hospitality industry. And on the topic of English spreakers, the town’s small but growing Anglo community has a reputation of being warm and welcoming, gladly helping new olim have a soft landing upon their arrival to Israel.
We are excited to watch Mitzpe Ramon grow, as it has the right mix - a burgeoning economy, strong communal infrastructure, and inexpensive housing - to attract young families looking to raise their children in a safe, quiet and embracing community.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.