The Magdala hotel, also known as Notre Dame du Lac, is the newest addition to the hotel scene in the Galilee. The hotel opened in late November 2019. The property was a labor of love for Fr. Juan Solana the project visionary, and it took almost 15 years to build. It encompasses approximately 140 spacious guest rooms that can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children, a pool, conference facilities, a dining room, and expansive outdoor space. Nearby is a spirituality center. Most uniquely the hotel is situated adjacent to one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the country, the ancient Magdala synagogue.
While primarily built to accommodate the pilgrimage market, the property also welcomes people from all backgrounds. With COVID-19, Israelis from many areas are enjoying their summers relaxing at this new seafront property on the Sea of Galilee.
The visionary behind the property was Fr. Juan Solana, the local representative of the Holy See. In 2005 he purchased the property for a guesthouse without any knowledge of what might lie deep below the ground.
In 2006, New Ark Limited commissioned Moed & Co to perform a market study on the site. The results indicated strong demand for the new property. Shortly after completing the study the second Lebanon war began negatively affecting tourism for the next two years. Over that period the project began pre-development and initial digging began on the site. A fascinating discovery was made: the Magdala stone, a large stone from the Second Temple period inscribed with a Menorah. Also uncovered, was a first century synagogue, indicating a very important Jewish town was nearby. Subsequent excavations uncovered an entire affluent fishing village complete with several Jewish ritual baths and homes.
The discoveries partially delayed the development of the hotel, however as more was uncovered the project concept also evolved and the project with its significant artifacts is extremely exciting to both Jews and Christians. A dialogue center is also part of the project concept. The site is an amazing example of how Catholics are protecting what is essentially an ancient Jewish archaeological treasure.