FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Tel Aviv: World Flair

Dec 1, 2012
2012 / December 2012

It’s big, bustling, filled with high-rises and eclectic neighborhoods with an ocean view — but by major metropolitan city standards, Tel Aviv is an infant. It’s hard to believe it was just more than 100 years ago that 66 families gathered on the beach outside the ancient port city of Jaffa to allocate plots of land for a new neighborhood. Those plots became much more than a mere neighborhood, however; in an amazingly short time, they grew into a modern, vibrant city with plenty of hip vibes and a strong business presence.

Tel Aviv’s dominance in Israel’s economic life is evidenced by the fact that nearly all its banks and insurance companies and the country’s only stock exchange are located in the city. Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Ester Levanon emphasizes the size and scope of Israel’s tech presence when she reveals that out of 600 companies on the exchange, 140 are high-tech.

Not content only to be Israel’s cultural and financial center, Tel Aviv is working to increase its international presence. In 2011, it launched the Global City project. The primary objective of this 10-year campaign is to turn the city into a global business and cultural center. Tel Aviv is already known as a center for technological companies and services and a creative hub for entrepreneurs, but Global City seeks to attract global financial institutions and international corporations as well.

Clearly, Tel Aviv is on the economic move, which makes it a vibrant and exciting place to do business.

The metropolitan area of Tel Aviv is home to more than 3.2 million people, but the city is surprisingly easy to navigate. Almost everyone speaks English, and there’s an extensive bus system and plenty of taxis to get you to and from business meetings. There’s also an environmentally friendly alternative. To cut down on traffic congestion, Tel Aviv residents are encouraged to bicycle to work, and active visitors can do the same. Tel Aviv-Yafo has 150 green bicycle docking stations around the city where, with a mere swipe of a credit card, you can rent a bike by the day or the week.

Like any big city, there are dozens of hotels, but some have added incentives for business travelers. The Hilton Tel Aviv, for example, offers child-free executive floors, meeting rooms, business cards printed in Hebrew and personalized outgoing voice-mail messages. The Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel & Towers boasts a 24-hour communications center, audio-visual equipment and technicians, and executive boardrooms. And the newly renovated Dan Panorama’s executive service lounge is directly linked to the Dan Panorama Convention Center.

The historical zone of Tel Aviv, known as the White City, was so named for the stark whiteness of its buildings, designed in the Bauhaus style by Jewish architects fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Today Tel Aviv boasts the largest number of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world. The White City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003.

Business travelers who think a bit out of the box can stay in a hotel housed in one of these original Bauhaus-style buildings. A movie theater in its former life, the 82-room Cinema Hotel offers business-friendly amenities, such as multichannel cable TV and free WiFi, while screening classic movies in the lobby, complete with popcorn.

One of many espresso kiosks in downtown Tel Aviv © Ellen Clark

In the center of the White City neighborhood, Rothschild Boulevard is one of the city’s loveliest streets, featuring a tree-lined central strip for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s also the city’s high-tech hot spot, where a plethora of venture capital firms and start-up companies have offices. The Boulevard is bursting with places to go for coffee, a quick meal or an upscale business lunch. Coffee kiosks along the pedestrian section of Rothschild Boulevard are where Tel Aviv’s business crowd meets for an espresso and a pastry.

Benedict, also on Rothschild, serves breakfast 24/7, so you can meet a business associate for breakfast anytime your jet-lagged time clock demands. The eggs are cooked to perfection, and the baskets of mini rolls, fresh out of the oven, are delicious; the restaurant does not take reservations and is popular, so you may have to wait for a table at prime times.

Homesick for a burger? Meet at Mose’s Burger, another Rothschild Boulevard hangout, which serves up Tel Aviv’s best.

HaTachana, one of Tel Aviv’s newer public spaces, is a convenient spot for meeting clients or colleagues. A railway station from 1892 to 1948, it sat derelict for years until in 2010 it was transformed into a compound of unusual shops, cafés and restaurants. Café Greg, in the heart of the complex, provides a cozy and quiet environment for a relaxed business meeting. It is separated by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall from Tzomet Sfarim (House of Books), a bookstore lover’s art-book store with a good selection of new Israeli fiction in English.

For a truly upscale dining experience, head for Mul-Yam in the Tel Aviv Seaport. This is the city’s best seafood restaurant and the only Israeli restaurant included in Les Grandes Tables du Monde. Take advantage of the exquisite and more reasonably priced business lunch.

Where to take that important client for a power lunch? Raphael is sure to impress. One of the city’s most esteemed restaurants, it is a relative bargain at lunch. A two-course meal, featuring appetizers such as raw red tuna salad and mains like purple calamari with sweet peppers and spicy tomato cream, costs less than $30.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the humble falafel. Often referred to as Israel’s national food, the falafel consists of egg-sized balls of ground chick peas, parsley and spices which are deep-fried and served in pita bread with salads, spices and tahini. There are dozens of falafel stands and shops in Tel Aviv. They are the perfect place to pick up lunch on the run between appointments. Everyone seems to have their favorite falafel establishment, but one of the most famous is Dr. Saadiah. It’s on King George Street and is easily recognizable by the lines outside.

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