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As many of the world’s top economies continue to struggle through 2012, Tel Aviv is a rare bright spot in the global economic picture. This booming metropolis at the edge of the Mediterranean is earning a reputation as the place where you can turn your big idea into big dollars.
Lay of the land: Tel Aviv’s hotel scene has exploded in recent years with buzz-y new options popping up, but the top pick continues to be the city’s original boutique experience, the luxurious 12-room Hotel Montefiore Located in a restored 1920s heritage mansion, the Montefiore combines high-end luxury with the atmosphere of a stylish guest house. The hotel’s owners also happen to be among Tel Aviv’s top restaurateurs, which makes the main-floor restaurant, which specializes in Vietnamese-inspired brasserie cuisine, a must.
Make your pitch: Take the time to learn the word hafuch (cappuccino) because, in Tel Aviv, deals are made in the city’s thousands of constantly busy cafés. One of the most loved in town is Orna and Ella, which is famous for its outstanding pastries, Italian sandwiches and signature sweet potato pancakes. But Israelis don’t discriminate between chain cafés and the independents as long as the food is fresh and the coffee strong, so the nearest Arcaffe or Landwer franchises are more than acceptable. And don’t be put off if your Tel Aviv counterparts show up looking less than sharp. The dress code here is business-casual at best, but sloppy in dress doesn’t equal careless in business.
Seal the deal: Herbert Samuel is the brainchild of renowned chef Yonatan Roshfeld—Israel’s godfather of haute cuisine—and features a menu of small plates inspired by Asian and Mediterranean flavours. Alternatively, you can celebrate your new partnership by indulging in fresh lobster and oysters at Mul Yam, a high-end seafood restaurant that many consider to be the best dining experience in Tel Aviv.
What to read: If you’re serious about doing business in Tel Aviv, mark down Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s Start-Up Nation as required reading. The 2009 book explores Israel’s unlikely rise to power in the global business world and the entrepreneurial spirit that continues to drive its success.
Terminal tip: Fast-track your way through Ben Gurion International Airport by arranging VIP service through IsraLimo, which will pick you up on the tarmac and usher you through expedited customs and baggage lines in 20 minutes flat.
First person: “Meetings here aren’t as reserved and conservative as in North America. There’s a lively atmosphere and people get very impassioned. They speak their minds—it’s expected that there would be discourse, even loud discourse, but that doesn’t mean that someone’s angry. It’s just a no-bullshit attitude. It’s about getting to the point and closing a deal.” —Viva Sarah Press, associate editor at Israel21c.org. Originally from Toronto, she has been living in Tel Aviv since 2003.