After smartening up and recognizing that the sand-strewn, one-way road we were on was probably not the right route to our relaxing destination, we went with our intuition and got back on the highway. One u-turn later and we were headed in the right direction.
We got an end of summer deal for one night at the Holiday Inn Resort. There are several resorts to choose from, and we plan to visit them all to find our favourite. It is not a cheap get-away, but kids 10 and under can stay and eat for free if you take a single room; we figured a night all together in a king-sized bed was a sacrifice we could handle. You can use the resort pools until the last pool closes (10:30 p.m.) on the day you check out. The Dead Sea access ends at sunset.
The pools at the Holiday Inn are outstanding. The kiddie pool is brilliant in its conception. We probably should have spent more time their under the protective sun shades, but the choice of music at this pool was more rave-friendly than kid-friendly. The feature pool has a swim-up bar (where you can enjoy a $12Cdn beer) and covered lounge pools all around it - perfect for the younger kids to practice their handstands. The third pool has a wide bridge over it which casts some shade; we tried to keep the kids in our group under the bridge for an hour to get them out of the sun. There was no way we could keep them out of the pool! The lower pool is adults only during the day, but at sunset the beach and upper pools close and the lower pool becomes an all access pool. The night atmosphere at the resort is deliciously exotic - warm breezes, palm trees, the lights of Jerusalem across the sea, and the stunning night sky.
As for the Dead Sea itself, well, it is weird. It is eerie and desolate and completely contradictory to all my experiences with the land surrounding other bodies of water. And the water is loaded with salt! I know, I know, duh, but you can actually see what I can only describe as liquid bands of salt in the water. When you first walk in the density of the water is instantly noticeable; I felt like I was wearing support stockings on my legs. As soon as I was waist deep I sat back in the water and pop, up came my legs and I was doing the Dead Sea float. I know that according to some principles of physics and chemistry it is scientifically possible to float like I did, but it just feels so other-worldly! We are so, so lucky to have had this experience in the Dead Sea, and are already looking forward to our next visit. If it's on your bucket list, our spare room is only an hour away...!