We continue our Meet the Innkeeper series today in Lenox, MA. The 11 Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) feel that meeting and getting to know the innkeepers who bring the romantic getaways, spa packages and outdoor adventures to their guests simply enhances the experience of a DINE getaway. After all, when is the last time the General Manager or owner of that Westin Hotel or Marriott greeted you by name and offered a tour of the property? We at DINE know that it’s the personal touches, like the time spent with guests, which sets the inn experience apart from the hotel stay. We like to say that our guests may enter the first time as strangers, but they leave as friends. Thus, with no further ado, meet the Michele and Eiran Gazit of the Gateways Inn.
Quite the global travelers, Eiran and Michele Gazit have made their way from Israel to Lenox, MA in a whirlwind romance and a knack for tourism successes. Eiran was born in Israel and raised in England. He attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he got his undergraduate degree, then received a Masters in Entrepreneurship from Swinburne University (an Australian University) on the Israel campus. Michele was a “Jersey Girl”, growing up the Garden State. Michele graduated from Syracuse University with degrees in Business and Psychology, then spent time trying out different home ports including Dallas ,TX, Miami, FL and Wichita, KA. Her career took her in a number of directions including Corporate Human Resources, retail, catering, the Diamond Investment industry, and eventually Complimentary Medicine, which she studied in Israel. Michele is a licensed massage and reflexology therapist, specializing in geriatric and Alzheimer stricken patients. Nowadays she spends her time managing a busy inn and restaurant.
Michele and Eiran met in Israel. Michele was a new immigrant to Israel and was enrolled in a live-in immersion program where newcomers spend a year learning Hebrew, Israeli politics and history, and assimilating into the Israeli society. Eiran was the Director of Education for the program. They met the second day she was there and as they both like to say “the rest is history…”. They lived in Israel together for twenty years where their three sons were born. No newcomer to tourism, before moving from Jerusalem to the Berkshires in 2005, Eiran was the founder and CEO of Mini Israel, a unique outdoor park featuring exact scale replicas of all the famous and important sites in Israel. He has since consulted on a number of other tourism-related projects around the world.
Eventually in 2005 they moved to Lenox MA to be closer to Michele’s family, where Eiran became involved in many aspects of local marketing and civic life, serving on the Economic Development Action Plan Steering Committee and more recently on the Lenox Marketing and Events Committee.
When asked how they got into innkeeping, Michele tells the story. “It was something we thought we’d always want to do,” Michele explains. “In 2010 the Cornell Inn in Lenox was abandoned by its owners, and the bank that held the note hired us to run it.” She continues. “We found out rather quickly that we liked innkeeping, we were good at it and we could work together well without killing each other!” she finished. Both Michele and Eiran knew they eventually wanted to own an inn.
Thus, when the opportunity came up to buy the Gateways Inn, they grabbed it. Being already so familiar with all Lenox and the Berkshires has to offer, it made sense. Plus, it gave Michele the perfect outlet for her passion for healthy cooking and it gave them both a place to create their Piano Bar & Restaurant. Michele prepares the full and varied meatless breakfasts at the inn, where there is an emphasis on balancing the fresh, local, healthy and organic with the decadent, and the guests enjoy knowing that.
The Gateways Inn and Restaurant is a family affair. While Eiran and Michele’s three boys have other year-round pursuits, this summer all three will be working at the inn. Adam, the oldest son at 22 just finished his three years of service in the Israeli military. Right now, Lior, 19, is in a one-year pre-military leadership academy program in Israel before beginning his three years of service, this fall. Their youngest son, Matan, 16, is currently in his spring semester of his sophomore year of High School in Israel and will be returning home in June. This summer when all three return to Lenox, Adam will work toward his dream of becoming a chef by continuing his training alongside the inn’s very capable Chef and Sous Chef in the kitchen; Lior will wait tables and Matan will be seen bussing. Watch closely and you’ll see proud Mom and Dad looking on from the dining room!
When asked what they love about innkeeping, Michele and Eiran will tell you it’s the social aspects. Like all DINE innkeepers, the Gazits truly enjoy getting to know their guests, and vice versa. Proof in point, Eiran recently shared this story when asked to tell us about a poignant moment at the Gateways Inn…
”One day last summer a gentleman walked in to our inn, hoping to find an available room. We had just received a cancellation so he was in luck. Across the street from us is an inn that takes pets. He had booked there online, not realizing they took pets and he was allergic to cats. He and his wife have become return guests, several times a year. We have also become friends. He knows I am a chocoholic and whenever he leaves, it takes only a few days before I receive a huge box of gourmet chocolate from their home town in Missouri.”
“But what we love most are the weddings. We do intimate, small, destination weddings at the inn and each is so different that it forces us to always be creative and innovative to tailor the occasion to each couples special style. Michele cries at every single one…” says Eiran.
Stay tuned to the DINE blog for profiles on innkeepers from the Cliffside Inn, Manor on Golden Pond, Rabbit Hill Inn, the Inn at Thorn Hill and the new innkeeper at the Grafton Inn. We look forward to sharing all of their stories, so the next time you visit a DINE inn, you’ll have a good sense of what makes those that provide your stay so special.