Feature: Unique desert farm in southern Israel features capsule lodge

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-27 00:06:56|Editor: yan
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by Keren Setton

JERUSALEM, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- The colors over the Israeli Negev desert were changing quickly. Birds flock above the sky as rays of sun pierce through clouds in a hard winter across the country.

Leah and Gadi Nahimov, a married couple who owns the Naot farm in the desert, were examining what needs to be changed or fixed in lodging and food facilities.

They were waiting for a group of guests to arrive at their new lodge, after 10 discarded concrete culvert pipes were transformed by Nahimov into tiny bedrooms that can host 20 people in total.

It is part of a growing trend of capsule lodging which has been gaining momentum worldwide in recent years. Cheaper accommodation is a phenomenon as global travels increase, and it has become a choice not only for cash-strapped backpackers but also for frequent business travelers.

According to a Capsule Hotels Global Market report issued by Wise Guy Consultants, the value of the market is expected to reach 226 million U.S. dollars by 2022.

After a long trip abroad of their own, Leah and Gadi decided to make their lodge more accessible to tourists.

Through changing discarded pipes from the waste water purification plant in central Israel, they lowered the price for tourists who can get comfortable beds with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi in the small capsules. The guests share communal showers and dining areas.

"We always want to do something that will make this beautiful desert accessible to people with lower budgets ... It was important to us ... that everything will be of high standard," Gadi Nahimov told Xinhua.

About 90 U.S. dollars a night per capsule including breakfast is much cheaper than the average Israeli hotel room price.

"This acts more like a hostel or like camping -- every guest has own corner, privacy but overall everyone is together. Strangers sit next to each other at the same table, use the same dishes, and have conversations," Leah Nahimov said.

The Negev desert, which comprises more than half of Israel's territory, is largely unpopulated but has become an increasing tourist attraction. Filled with ancient ruins and unique land formations, the region now has luxury hotels, spas and wineries on the high end and more places like the quiet Naot farm.

A group of bikers wanting to rest after a long day on their motorcycles arrived at the pipes. They stood in front of them, taking pictures of each other on their mobile phones and quickly messaging them home.

"The first reaction is usually 'so cool!' and people really enjoy," said Leah Nahimov.

"It's innovative and in line with the times of recycling material. You can rest here with friends, and facilities are available around us," said one of the bikers, Ziv Simhon.

The Israeli government is also trying to boost tourism in southern Israel. A new international airport was recently inaugurated to facilitate easier access to the remote areas of the country. The airport is not far from the farm, with its control tower in sight.

The record number of tourists arriving in Israel from abroad in 2018 could signal potential growth for desert tourism as well.