From biz tycoon to B&B owner

Jean-Yeves Mastay spent many years in Southern California, where he built a successful career as a designer and manufacturer of women’s apparel. At his career peak, he owned 11 factories in three countries.

But Israel was always tugging at his heartstrings: On a trip to Europe in 1982, Mastay finally found his way to Israel — for two days only. They were enough to convince him that he’d found his true home.

A few years later he returned to Israel, for three months. He hired a guide to take him around the country as he searched for a new home in a new community. “I didn’t want to be a tourist. I didn’t want to hear any English. I wanted to find the real Israel,” he said.

He chose Safed. He returned to the United States to face the biggest decision of his life — stay and grow his business, or move to Israel and downsize his life. He chose the latter, though today he would say that his life is certainly no smaller.

Mastay liquidated his company and sold his factories. He moved in 1986.

He purchased a 14th-century landmark, which looked more like a pile of archaeological ruins than a palace, and restored it. He created a fine restaurant on the lower level of the property, but he didn’t stop there. He was living in a house above the former palace-turned-California cuisine restaurant, and decided to rebuild the house as a modern-day palace with nine guest suites.

His Palacio Resort offers guests the chance to taste the life of royalty, sleeping and relaxing in an elegant suite and dining on kosher cuisine in the restaurant on the ground level.