Living like a local: the F.O.P project to open 'scattered' hotel in Bethlehem

More and more travelers are looking for authentic experiences: they are eager to escape big hotel chains and immerse themselves in local culture, food and attractions.

A project called "Future of Our Past" (F.O.P) is working to make holidays different and inspiring.

Towns becoming hotels

The central idea to the project is that the best accommodation found in towns of the Mediterranean area is houses owned by local inhabitants.

In order to foster community-based tourism, F.O.P takes a new perspective: in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, the project is developing a "scattered hotel". This means that rooms are not located within one single building but spread in different buildings within the town. "The project has already identified 18 places, among houses, apartments and rooms, which are undergoing minor refurbishment works," said Mr. Simone Bozzato, F.O.P scientific coordinator. "The total hosting capacity of the scattered hotel, to open in the first half of 2016, is 70 beds."

Unified management is a key requirement for scattered hotels. Under the FOP project, the "Bethlehem Tourist Information Center will serve as welcome center for and reception for the clients of the hotel," said a representative of the Palestinian partner, the Dar Al-Kalima University College.

The concept of scattered hotel was initially developed in Italy where this new form of hospitality has shown its potential to revive and even save ancient villages.

Because of this potential, the F.O.P project seeks to extend the experience carried out in Bethlehem to other Palestinian cities. A visit to the future scattered hotel was recently organized for mayors, business managers and representatives of the "Most Beautiful Villages of Palestine" network.

"We loved living next door to locals with their dogs and their washing lines. Scenes from life!" told Barbara Saks - an Australian traveler who stayed in Alberobello, a small village of Apulia region in Italy - a few years ago in an article of the New York Times.

Partners of the F.O.P project hope that future guests of the Bethlehem scattered hotel will have the same words of praise following their holidays in one of the family-owned accommodation of the city.  

View the project website and Facebook page