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Stunning Seaside Retreat Gives Brutalist Icon a Second Life

Resembling a curved concrete serpent set atop a seaside cliff, the Mivtachim Sanitarium, a classic late '60s design by Israeli architect Yaakov Rechter set atop a series of pilotis, captured both the optimistic, socialist bent of Brutalism and a commanding view of the countryside. The entrancing layout, long celebrated, now has a second life thanks to a lengthy eight-year renovation that has turned a resting place for the working class into a high-class, arts-themed resort.

The Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, which opened its doors last year, has transformed a workingman's retreat into a 95-room boutique hotel complete with a 750-square-meter (8,072-square-feet) contemporary art gallery, outdoor exhibition space and a pair of concert halls. Perched on the Mediterranean coast 40 miles north of Tel Aviv, the famous structure, now months into a second life as a boutique hotel complete l with locally sourced fine dining and rotating arts programming, could have looked much different.

Wealthy arts parton Lily Elstein initially purchased the resort in Mount Carmel in 2005, with a mind to transform the site with galleries and concert halls, a year after it shut down due to the decline of the labour party. The extensive renovation plan she first proposed which would have demolished significant parts of the original structure, generated a public outcry, which led Elstein to downsize her ambitions. In 2010, architect, Amnon Rechter, Jacob's son,and hotel architect Rani Ziss were brought in to oversee a more modest transformation; the exterior facade will be preserved, and all original wood work has been refurbished. Now, Elma (ELstein Music and Art) has updated the historic Brutalist icon, with a sensitive interior reboot overseen by Lea Mahler that mixes monochromatic furniture, walnut furnishings and terrazzo floor tiles. While the retreat commands a different price point than it did in the past, Rechter's work, and it's relationship with the landscape, have been preserved.

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