Lawrence Davis, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Splash Magazines Worldwide, fights back tears when describing the powerful impact of his 2007 visit to Israel with the tour company Rent-a-Guide Tours. It was Davis’s first visit to Israel and he declares that “it just couldn’t have been better” because of Rent-a-Guide Tours.
“If I try to imagine what it would’ve been like to have gone to Israel and have just been there by myself, it could have only been at the most 10% of what I experienced,” said Davis. In fact, Davis was so pleased with Rent-a-Guide Tours that he believes making 10 trips by himself to Israel still would not give him as much knowledge, experience or stir up as much feeling as this one trip did.
While Davis had never been to Israel, he travelled with his Aunt and Uncle who are world travellers and had been to Israel a few times. Rent-a-Guide Tours showed them parts of Israel that they never even knew existed, leaving everyone extremely impressed.
Davis believes that the tour guides’ knowledge and genuine care for their guests really make Rent-a-Guide unique. As the guides are Israeli natives, Davis found that their accents added to the flavour and they spoke clearly. They understood Israel, were able to answer all questions asked and always provided a wealth of information to the guests. Their educational knowledge was endless and to top it off, they were gentlemen and always opened the doors for the elderly. Davis’s group had 4 tour guides and each had a unique personality. Offer was a fairly recent addition to the company but full of knowledge and interesting tidbits. Moshe, named after Moses, was formerly involved very highly with Kabbalah and he was remarkable. Ossi was full of stories and his immense knowledge was fascinating, and Reuben, the man who created it all, was modest and easy-going, leaking his personality throughout the entire company.
Rent-a-Guide was established about 23 years ago by Reuben. He started the company when he was 21-years-old, thinking that it would just be a part-time job while in college. It is now the largest tour company in Israel with 52 guides and 700-1000 tours every month year round. It is the only company that has received 2 awards from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism for Best Tourist Company, and no tourist has ever heard a gunshot or had anything bad happen to them the entire time Reuben has been giving tours. Rent-a-Guide works with most of the big travel agencies in Israel and they deal with incoming tourism and the military industry. Rent-a-Guide has private tours, daily tours and weekly tours. Their speciality tours include the Jewish Heritage Tour, Christian Heritage Tour, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tours, the Classic Tour of Israel and more. Tours are offered in all major languages and the transportation is provided in luxury vehicles such as Mercedes and Cadillacs.
Davis’s tour guides travelled in brand new Mercedes vans that were clean and air-conditioned. He enjoyed that they weren’t quiet between locations. Instead, during almost all trips, the guides were answering questions, telling the group facts about things along the way or what was to come ahead. They even shared political knowledge with the group, telling the good and the bad. Davis calls their words and communication complete and unfiltered.
Davis recalls that Offer, the driver who picked his group up from Jerusalem and took them to Tel Aviv provided a very educational ride. He showed the group the Arab village, the people selling different foods and the different neighbourhoods. It was a beautiful introduction before the group actually met Reuben for the first time.
When they met Reuben, he graciously gave them a tour of his offices and took them in his new Mercedes into Jaffa. There he bought them a phenomenal lunch where the food kept on coming and coming, and introduced the group to the woman who owned the restaurant.
Davis was impressed by Reuben’s ability to run this huge business yet have no trace of an inflated ego. He found Reuben to be a l ovely man who was very laid-back, relaxed and calm. “His personality permeates the business,” Davis believes, as Reuben aims for nothing but the best and the guides he finds are understated people with endless knowledge and care for their guests, young and old.
The guides were really kind and helpful towards Davis’s elderly Aunt. They would adapt the tour around the elderly to let Davis continue to explore. For example, if there was still something to show Davis but his Aunt and Uncle needed to rest, the guides would let them relax in an area with food or drinks while they took Davis around.
“There’s no way to fake that these people cared about us, and they cared about us being in Israel and they cared about us knowing about what we saw and what we experienced and they wanted us to know history and they wanted us to know current events and it just couldn’t have been better,” Davis stated.
The spectacular guides took Davis’s group wherever they wanted to go. They would make phone calls and set up tours for the very next day if Davis requested. After dropping the group off, the guides would take a hotel room somewhere else but because Davis’s group felt such closeness to them, they invited the guides to join for meals on several occasions.
Rent-a-Guide made it possible to do things that Davis’s group would not have been able to do on their own. One of the tour guides, took Davis to a firing range where he and his Uncle shot oozies, hand guns and anything else they wanted to shoot. This was only possible because of the guide’s relationship with the Rabbi of the Kibbutz, as he used to live there. “I would absolutely definitely recommend them in all the cities that we did go to,” he said, which include Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, Tiberias.
Even though Rent-a-Guide doesn’t go to Jordan, they arranged with another company that they have an affiliation with to meet Davis’s group at the border of Israel and Jordan and take them into Jordan. Davis even got to enjoy rides on camels, horses, carriages and donkeys. After the tour was done, they took them back to the border where the Rent-a-Guide tour guides were waiting.
When asked what his best day was, the memories bring tears to Davis’s eyes. As the emotion overtakes him, he says that Masada, the Wall, and the Dead Sea were all amazing in their own ways. “There was probably nothing more powerful than going to the Wall,” he reflected. “Going to the Wailing Wall would be number 1 and Masada would be number 2 and the Dead Sea would be number 3.” At the Wall, Rent-a-Guide took Davis to where he could wrap T’fillin and he was taken behind and under the Wall. This memory will be with him forever and he is grateful that he found a tour company that presented him with this wonderful experience.
Davis describes the tour guides “very much like somebody had set you up with their friend in another country and they did everything that they could to make sure you had a wonderful time and that you learned everything and that you wanted to come back.”
He truly believes that he received the best experience possible from Rent-a-Guide Tours and will never forget his visit to Israel because of them. “They were far beyond just tour guides, they ended up being like members of the family,” said Davis.
To read about what happens next in Davis' trip to Israel, click here.
To read about Davis’ trip in Jaffa and Tel Aviv, click here.
To read about Davis’ ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' interview with the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza Hotel's Executive Chef, click here.
To read about Davis’ trip to Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip in the Old City of Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip to Jerusalem from his Uncle's perspective, click here.
For more information go to Rent-a-Guide Tours