Pop-up Baywatch bling
Want a good sea view? Stay in a luxury lifeguard tower in Tel Aviv
The mayor of Tel Aviv rushed to help the German travel blogger lift her luggage away from the incoming tide as she made her way into the city's newest beachfront digs - a wooden lifeguard tower refurbished as a pop-up luxury suite.
As part of an effort to market Israel as a winter tourist destination for Europeans, Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean coast, and Israel's tourism ministry have teamed up with a local hotel chain to temporarily transform the tower into a two-storey suite, with hot tub, room service and unobstructed ocean views.
"There is a phenomenon of hotel rooms in unexpected or unusually inaccessible places," said Mr Eytan Schwartz, head of Tel Aviv Global and Tourism, a department of the city administration.
Boutique hotels have in recent years perched guests in tree houses, construction cranes and salt flats, but Tel Aviv's is believed to be the first to occupy a lifeguard hut.
Israel's tourism industry welcomes around 4 million visitors a year.
The tourism ministry is investing US$25 million (S$35 million) in a campaign to encourage them to go to both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as complementary destinations.
"Today, tourism looks for cities," Mr Amir Halevi, director-general of the ministry, told Reuters.
"We sell Israel through Tel Aviv."
With its beach, warm weather, wealth of restaurants and buzzing nightlife, Tel Aviv has become a popular destination among Europeans, even for long weekends on budget airlines.
The one-night stay in the beachfront suite is free for winners of an online contest run through hotels.com, before it is taken down in two weeks.
Plans are in the works for a similar pop-up hotel in Jerusalem's Old City. - REUTERS