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Check out our Early Bird Deals that will get you excited for Summer 2013. For your customized requests and tours, don’t hesitate to contact us on +961.70.103222 or +961.70.211503 or email us on [email protected].

Mzaarville Chalets

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Save 20% on your Studio Chalet booking at MzaarVille in August if you secure your booking before May 31st.
Deal expires on May 31, 2013.

Mzaar Intercontinental Hotel





InterContinental Spring Surprises

Enjoy unlimited relaxation and plenty of outdoor activities at InterContinental Mzaar resort this Spring. Special rates and discounts are available online.

My Lebanese ski adventure: Enjoying a snow and city break in Beirut

17-March-2013 – Daily Mail by Neil English

After making my first turns on Lebanese snow seven years ago, I made a pledge to myself to return one day. After all, the chance to ski at the Middle East’s largest resort, Faraya-Mzaar, in the morning before swimming in the Mediterranean near Beirut in the afternoon is difficult to resist.

My second visit to this warm and friendly country was just as wonderful as the first. Despite the current troubles blighting neighbouring Syria, Lebanon is still considered a safe tourist destination by the Government.

Skier in Mzaar resort
Skier in Mzaar resort

This time around, I opted for a properly planned city/ski twin destination holiday, rather than just snatching a few hours on the coast.

Mzaar sits in a wind-protected section of Mount Lebanon, and the ski terrain altitude ranges from 6,069ft to 8,087ft.

There are nearly 50 miles of groomed pistes here, and the terrain, with far-reaching views over the Bekaa Valley, is mainly suited to beginners and intermediate skiers.

At the sushi bar inside my base, the Intercontinental Hotel at Faraya-Mzaar, I met Georges Salemeh, who has represented Lebanon at the Winter Olympics. I had first spotted him practising slalom turns on a steep pitch just behind the hotel.

‘You’re welcome to come and train with me if you’d like but my own track is hard and icy so you might want to sharpen your edges first,’ said Georges. I politely declined and instead asked what he thought of Mzaar’s slopes for locals and tourists.

A view of Beirut's harbour from a balcony at the Phoenicia Hotel
A serving of sunshine too: A view of Beirut’s harbour from a balcony at the Phoenicia Hotel

‘They provide not just the best skiing in Lebanon, but the best in the Middle East,’ he replied.

While there are no shortage of good hotels in the Middle East, there simply cannot be many boasting private ski lift access from a sun-deck to the slopes. I would also recommend the Intercontinental for its spa and fine restaurants but, due to regular power cuts caused by fluctuating energy supplies from the government, I refused to use the hotel lifts. Anyway, using the stairs helps strengthen your ski legs.

One night I opted out of the hotel’s very good Lebanese buffet and headed to the nearby Le Montagnou restaurant, which specialises in… fondue. I suppose this must be a throwback to the days when the French occupied these parts and introduced some of their preferred mountain dishes.

Imposing: The capital's Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Imposing: The capital’s Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque

I have to admit the four-cheese fondue and house specialty of fried eggs on halloumi cheese were up to Alpine standard.

After three days, which is plenty of time for an experienced skier, I moved on to the second phase of my adventure. I took the Intercontinental’s shuttle bus (it costs £30 for the 75-minutes journey) along pot-holed roads to Beirut.

My destination was the handsome Phoenicia Hotel, which is also part of the Intercontinental Group. The hotel, which has recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment to mark its 50th anniversary, overlooks the city’s famous boardwalk, the Beirut Corniche. The nearby harbour was full of the type of huge yachts more often seen moored in Cannes during the film festival season.

The Phoenicia’s suites and banqueting rooms have long played host to heads of state (both good and infamous), along with celebrities and discerning tourists from all corners of the globe. The opulent, ground-floor lounge is still one of Beirut’s most popular meeting places – it is always busy with locals gossiping over a late-morning coffee, businessmen cutting deals over lunch and tourists enjoying an aperitif.

I could have happily whiled away my two days and nights exploring the Phoenicia’s world-class spa, choice of superb restaurants and shops, not to mention the finest collection of rare whiskies from all over the world that I have ever seen. However, I was here to savour the whole city, so I hired a guide who organised a lightning tour.

The itinerary included visits to the National Museum of Lebanon, which houses the sarcophagus of the ancient Phoenician king Ahiram; a shopping area dubbed ‘the Greenwich Village of Beirut’ due to its wealth of chic boutiques; and places of worship, including the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

At lunchtime, we headed for the superb organic restaurant Al Tawleh, where fresh mezze dishes such as white and green bean salads, houmous with cress, onion, rocket and beetroot, and sausages stuffed with de-thorned thistles from the Lebanese mountains delighted our tastebuds. All these were washed down with some heavenly Bekaa Valley wines.

Beirut is packed with romanticlooking streets adorned with enticing pavement cafes, food markets, high-end boutiques and art galleries.

At night, the city comes alive once more, as live music is played in a host of bars and clubs.

The highlight of my trip, however, was having dinner at the Al Falamanki restaurant. This is where a real cross-section of Lebanese society convenes for games of cards, and to listen to gentle music while drinking delicious Lebanese wine and eating a stream of Mediterranean delicacies. Simply brilliant. Until the mid-Seventies when Lebanon was plunged into civil war, Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East. I’m glad to say it has deservedly reclaimed its title.

An Overview of Lebanon’s Top Ski Resorts – Part 1

The season is nearly on us once more and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning your next ski vacation in Lebanon.

The old hands and experts will undoubtedly already have their favorite destinations when it comes to choosing a resort, but for all the new people who are yet to experience the rush of a Lebanese skiing holiday, we’re here to give you a run down on the best resorts the country has to offer.

The View from the peak above Mzaar, Lebanon
The incredible view from the peak above Mzaar, Lebanon

The Cedars

Sharing its name with the country’s national emblem, The Cedars Resort is a great destination for those who love nature, or are looking for a relaxing break in (relative) isolation.

Located at an elevation of 2000m, the resort enjoys a slightly longer season than some of the country’s other resorts. In addition to multiple runs, visitors also have access to great hiking routes and incredible views.

The Cedars has plenty to offer to both beginners and experts, with pistes ranging from entry level all the way up to challenging black runs.

Click here to read more about the Cedars Resort.


Situated at a slightly lower altitude of around 1600 m, Laqlouq is a more accessible resort. In addition to being easy to get to, it also has a range of courses that are slightly more beginner-friendly than other destinations.

While the traditional skiing is excellent, Laqlouq is also known for the quality of its cross-country runs. If you like to complement your pistes with level courses, this is an excellent choice.

Click here to read more about Laqlouq.


Also known as Faraya Mzaar – Faraya being a nearby village. This is Lebanon’s most popular resort and has a huge variety of skiing on offer.

The Intercontinental Hotel, Mzaar
The Intercontinental Hotel - one of Mzaar's most popular accommodation options

Those who love a challenge will be impressed by the sheer number of options available to them, while newbies who are just starting out will receive an excellent introduction on the gentler slopes.

Mzaar is a bustling and welcoming resort with plenty going on. This is an excellent all-round destination and particularly appealing to those who enjoy the après-ski aspect as much as the slopes themselves.

Click here to read more about Mzaar.

Next week we’ll round off our overview of Lebanon’s best ski resorts. Until then, do you have a particular favorite? We’re always keen to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.

Remember, you can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to be in with a chance of snapping up some great early bird offers!

The Mzaar Summer Festival 2011: Come Celebrate!

If this year’s Mzaar Summer Festival is going to be anything like last year’s, save the date on your calendar and start planning ahead!

The Mzaar Summer Festival is an annual tradition, gaining in popularity each year. Just 30 miles to the northeast of Beirut, the mountain resort area of Mzaar makes the perfect setting for a summer festival.  The venue will be the Faraya Gardens.

The Mzaar Summer Festival is scheduled to kick off this your on August 11 and carry on through the weekend and up until August 17.  Here’s the schedule of events:

Espace «Mzaa’rt»: Open on the 11 and 12 from 15h to 21h and on 13-14-15 from 11h a 22h. More than 60 artisans and painters painters gather to showcase their latest creativity.

Espace Boutiques: Open on 11 and 12 from 15h to 21h and on 13-14-15 from 11h to 22h: Fair showing the latest decoration trends, traditional arts, table setup, furniture design and other innovations.

Espace Jardin Gastronomique: Open from noon to midnight. Meeting point for all food and beverage specialists of the region.

Mzaar Kids Zone: Open from 11h till 21h « Parking Igloo ». Dedicated to children with shows, music and singing.

Mzaar Xtreme Zone: «Parking Igloo» Open from 11h till midnight. Strong sensation and adrenaline pumping guaranteed with bungee and rocket jumping, skate park.

During the evenings:

August 12: Altitude Fever in Jardins du Mzaar starting 21h30h. Call 76 358760 for info and reservations.

August 13: Summer & Ski Fashion Show around Igloo swimming pool at 17h30.

August 13 (evening): Igloo Summer Heat with MIX FM around the swimming pool.

August 14: Fireworks at 20h00.

August 15: Mass at 11h30 accompanied by Chorale de l’église st Joseph.

August 15 at 17h: Dog Beauty contest.

Bring your mom, dad, pets, and kids of all ages, because there will be something for everyone at the Mzaar Summer Festival.  The line-up includes live music performances, exhibitions, carnival games and activities, fireworks displays, painters, artisans, a dizzying array of delicious food stands, and even fashion shows. A festival like this is summer fun at its finest.  Check out the highlights of last year:

The accommodations in and around Mzaar fill up quickly for the festival, so be sure to book your lodging online today! Check out our list of our highly-recommended best-selling hotels in Mzaar:

MzaarVille Chalets – 5 NIGHTS 
Studio Chalet at $1075 and $215/extra night

InterContinental Mzaar – 5 NIGHTS with breakfast
Standard Double Room at $1510 and $302/additional night

Get Wet at Rikky’z Mountain Beach Party!

Who is ready for the wettest, wildest, hottest event in Lebanon this summer? The fun-lovers at Sport Evasion Middle East is pairing up with the party-addicts at Rikky’z to throw the party of the summertime in Faqra, Lebanon. All of Lebanon’s VIPs will be there … don’t miss out!

Rikky'z beach mountain partySince 2007, Rikky’z bar has made itself famous for a number things: it’s the largest wood construction in the Mediterranean, it’s set at a breath-taking 1,730 meters above sea level, and it attracts the flashiest, most high-profile crowd in Lebanon. All night party people and dance lovers, this is the scene for you.

What is a mountain beach party? The minds behind this event are taking the best of the beach and moving it to high altitude for the best of both worlds. There will be plenty of fantastic surprises for the party-goers, but we’ve heard that palm trees, a wet tee shirt contest K-Lynn nurses, and 1800 square meters of sand are in the works. Be sure to bring your towel – this “beach” party is on the decks of the decadent Rikky’z pools, and you will get WET!

Mark your calendar for Sunday, July 31 and be sure to reserve in advance. Party tickets are $60 for open food and open bar. To RSVP just call 03 12 02 01 or 09 30 10 10.

Be sure to book a hotel in Mzaar for a place to crash in the early morning after a crazy summer party you’ll be lucky to remember. We recommend l’Auberge de Faqra. Or, to continue your rockstar night in five-star luxury, opt for the glamourous Mzaar Intercontinental nearby.


UPDATE: This event was a splashing success!  Check out these hot photos. Lookin’ good, Lebanon

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Licence to Roam: ATV Tours in Lebanon

The All Terrain Vehicle (or ATV) has, despite being a fairly recent innovation, rapidly become a very popular method of individual transportation and one that’s especially suited to summer tours and other outdoors excursions. By offering a fast-paced, exciting and independent experience for riders, ATV tours in Lebanon offer the chance to get the adrenaline pumping against a backdrop of some of the planet’s most impressive historical sites and geographical locations.

Visitors to Lebanon can enjoy a unique perspective on some of the country’s most famous destinations by exploring on the back of their very own ATV. These vehicles offer the perfect solution when it comes to either trekking between two sites or enjoying different viewpoints of a single famous landmark.

Lebanon ATV Tours

Some of the excursions on offer include:

1) Exploring the ancient ruins of Baalbek

Enjoy a six hour ride in the mountains around this legendary settlement. After exploring the ruins up close, you can blow the cobwebs away by discovering your own perfect view of the site. An incredible contrast between the awesome history of Baalbek’s stones and the simple thrill of being alive in the present day.

Experience an ATV tour around Baalbek

2) Trekking between Faraya Mzaar and Zahle

Following winding mining tracks, this route offers an exciting and dramatic view of the rugged landscape which local people have worked for generations. Glimpses of beautiful peaks and valleys along the way provide a constant incentive to push on and see exactly what’s around the next bend.

Try an ATV trek between Faraya Mzaar and Zahle

3) Ascent of Qornet Al Sawda

Conquering Lebanon’s tallest peak is no mean feat, even with an ATV. The feeling of accomplishment that washes over you as you arrive at the top of one of the Middle East’s tallest peaks – standing at 3088m in height – is beyond description. You truly feel on top of the world.

Find out about the ascent of Qornet Al Sawda on an ATV

Lebanon ATV Tours - Qornet Al Sawda

These experiences offer a completely unique perspective and a sense of total freedom that are simply unavailable to most travellers. In the warm summer months when snow is limited, there is no better way to enjoy Lebanon’s striking terrain and incomparable views than on the back of your very own ATV. More experiences are available, so see which package would make your stay in Lebanon that little bit more exciting.

Skiing in the Middle East by Hob Wahid

Feb 2007 – Lebanon: Playground of the Middle East

Mzaar Mountains Lebanon

That is usually the response I get when I tell people about my ski weekend in Lebanon. Yes, Lebanon is in the Middle East, but the fact is that it is a mountainous country that boasts a couple of world-class ski areas that will entertain even the most experienced skiers. Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) is the gem of the burgeoning Lebanese ski area, with the most lifts and best terrain. While not the equivalent of most areas you will find in the US or Europe, Mzaar still has a unique feel that will impress even the most hardened skier.

Mzaar is just a 1-hour drive from Beirut, making it a perfectly reasonable day trip if you have a car, and it is its location that makes it so spectacular. In late January in Beirut it is perfectly possible to be walking on the coast of the Mediterranean in a T-shirt, but just 1 hour and almost 3,000 meters later, you are on a snow-covered peak that looks like it belongs more in Switzerland than Lebanon.

If you are like me, you most likely didn’t come to Lebanon with the specific idea of going for a ski and thus did not bring your own equipment. This is nothing to worry about, however, because the Lebanese realize that most people don’t come to Lebanon to ski and therefore they make the rental of all necessary ski equipment not only possible but extremely easy. Along the road to Faraya you will come across numerous ski shops where you can not only rent skis, boots, and poles, but snow pants, jackets, helmets, goggles, hats, and gloves as well. Surprisingly, the quality of the equipment is quite good. Unsurprisingly, the shops farthest from the mountain may offer the best prices, but you may end up on 5- to 6-year-old skis. My suggestion is that you just rent from the rental shop at the base lodge of the Mzaar Mountain. It may be the most expensive place around, but their equipment and selection is the best, plus it is the most convenient. Even though their prices may be the highest, they are nothing compared with what you will find in the US or Europe. You can rent a whole ski outfit (skis, boots, poles, gloves, pants, jacket, and goggles) for just $20/day.

Once you have obtained all your equipment, an access pass to the four peaks of Mzaar will cost you $25, still making it cheaper than a day out at most resorts in the US or Europe. The mountain itself is one unlike any others I have skied before. Although the mountain itself is almost 3,000 meters tall, snow only falls on the top 800 meters, meaning that the actual vertical ski terrain is not comparable to the US, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in area with 12 full lifts. There are also no trees on top of the mountain and no real marked runs, which means that you are free to ski where you want, and if you are an advanced skier like I am, you may find yourself doing a bit of hiking off trail to get to the real steep and challenging runs. The snow is not the sort of powder that you will find in Utah or Colorado, rather it is more similar to the kind of finely packed snow you will find in the mountains of Vermont, making the skiing in Lebanon perfect for lovers of technical skiing.

It is obvious that the mountain is more tailored to beginners, and beginners or intermediate skiers will find the mountains highly entertaining, but for the advanced skier, there may be some effort involved. Still, though, I consider myself a very advanced skier and I was able to find things that challenged me a bit, I just had to search for them. Because this is Lebanon, the skiing is not nearly as regulated as in the US or Europe – you are basically free to do what you want. Thus, I found some of the best trails on the mountain just by taking a brief hike to various precipices scattered on the mountain that would satisfy my lust for verticality and speed.

While the skiing itself overall is not on par with anything I have skied in Europe or the US, there is one thing that will make Mzaar stand out over all other mountains in my mind and that is the views. From the top of how many other mountains in the world can you stare down at the Mediterranean Sea? The fact that you can stand there in the biting wind on the highest peak of Mzaar, hiding from the cold in your winter jacket and peer down at the Beirut Peninsula jutting out majestically into the Mediterranean, makes Mzaar a ski experience unlike any other and a must for a ski bums who happen to pass through Lebanon. Plus, you get to go home and tell all your friends at home how you went skiing in Lebanon and dispel all their beliefs about the Middle East being a barren desert.

Skiing in Lebanon by Zeina Karam

April 2006The Associated Press

Skiing Lebanon

Mzaar, Lebanon — When Mart Maastik’s friends suggested a ski vacation in Lebanon, he was hesitant — and more than a little skeptical, especially about security.

“Skiing in the Middle East? I’d never heard of that,” the 41-year-old Estonian said while standing in full skiing gear at the foothills of the Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) mountains.

But Lebanon, with six ski resorts and a season that generally runs from December through April, is increasingly drawing not just Arab tourists, but Europeans, too, industry officials say. Maastik, who is in the real estate business back home, has skied in Austria, Andorra, France “and almost everywhere else,” but he feels Lebanon’s slopes have a different flavor.

“This is quite exotic for us,” he said, saying he was taken with Lebanon’s hospitality and its good weather.

He said he was worried about security at first. “But I decided to forget about politics and come anyway.” Security is a question for many visitors.

Business at the area’s biggest hotel, the InterContinental Mountain Resort & Spa, plunged more than 30 percent in 2005 because of political instability in Lebanon, general manager Robert Zogbi said. The country has seen at least 16 bombings since October 2004, the largest of which killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri a year ago.

But the five-star lodge, sitting only few hundred yards from the nearest slopes, has managed to offset losses. It had a 98 percent occupancy rate in February, Zogbi said.

Many foreigners come to Lebanon for the cheaper prices and relaxed atmosphere. The weather, less stormy and more sunny during the skiing season than at many European resorts, is also an attraction, as is the mountains’ nearness to the coast and Beirut.

“You can ski in the morning and go fishing or shopping or sightseeing in the afternoon. It’s a very unique advantage,” Zogbi said.

The best equipped and most popular of Lebanon’s ski areas is the Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) area, a one-hour drive northeast of Beirut. The resort has around 20 slopes and 53 miles of ski trails. Other areas include Laqlouk, Zaarour and The Cedars — the highest of the resorts with an altitude above 6,600 feet.

Sam Waugh, 22, a learning support teacher from Britain, said he’d always wanted to learn skiing but was too intimidated to do it in Europe. So when his brother who works in a refugee camp in Beirut suggested Lebanon, he agreed.

“It’s really good. No one laughs when you fall here. No one cares,” he said as he struggled in his skis.

Although there are no official figures for the number of visitors, industry officials say the number of visitors is growing, with tourists coming from all over the Arab world and Europe.

Skiing as a leisure sport is catching on among Arabs, most of whom live in hot, desert countries. “We’re getting young people from the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Kuwait, Jordan, as well as Western expatriates living in those countries,” said Nicole Wakim, sales and marketing manager for the Mzaar resort.

An indoor ski Dubai dome was opened last year in Dubai, complete with snowmaking jets and huge air conditioners to simulate the real thing.

Zogbi doesn’t view that as competition. On the contrary, he said, it creates new business by encouraging young people from the Persian Gulf to come to Lebanon’s slopes for the real thing.

He said Lebanese resorts also have benefited from toughened security in Western nations since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

“All the Arabs who used to go to foreign countries suddenly became subject to intense scrutiny. Arabs do not like that and are choosing to come here instead,” he said.

Secret Skiing by Frank Coles

Mar 2006Guardian Unlimited

Tucked away in Lebanon, there are snowfields where the crowds are small, and the attractions – both on and off-piste – are plentiful. Frank Coles reveals skiing’s big secret.

Mzaar Ski Slopes

Lawrence of Arabia, that most illustrious of British business travelers, never skied and thanks to his adventurous legacy, Bedouin, belly dancers, camels, and vast empty deserts are what most visitors have come to expect from the Middle East. You could be forgiven for thinking that an indoor slope in humid Dubai is the only wintry option available, but as the area opens up to development and reform, mountains and slopes that were once the preserve of a few savvy locals are welcoming tourists with winter holidays that have little to do with sunshine or souks.

Flying into Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, it is a surprise to see not just a sunny Mediterranean shoreline but also a glistening white mountain range towering stoically over the thin strip of land that houses the capital. Historically, Lebanon is synonymous with snow; even its name derives from the ancient Semitic word for white, “laban”, and its frosted peaks are referred to in the earliest of texts from Gilgamesh to the Old Testament.

Unlike the Norwegians who have skied for thousands of years, the Lebanese initially showed little interest in the untapped potential of their slopes. That is until the early 20th century when a few enthusiastic mountain men and some French expatriates scaled the Lebanese mountains by donkey, skied down, and then kept going back for more. The locals probably thought they were crazy, but, by the 1940s, the Lebanese had established competitions, clubs and ski schools throughout the country, and were competing on the international stage. The country’s progress towards skiing modernity was then interrupted in the 1970s by a lengthy civil war and only really got going again during the 1990s. Today, this combination of circumstances has created an attractive skiing destination, relatively unspoiled by bumper-to-bumper commercialism.

Lebanon itself is a surprisingly small country, about the size of Yorkshire, and you can drive from one end to the other in around three hours. Separated by the fertile Bekaa Valley, two parallel mountain ranges dominate the country. The most skiable slopes are on the western Lebanon mountain range, with many runs less than an hour away from the fashionable capital. As British skier David Reed informed me, “It’s like having a ski resort just outside Paris.” With its historic ruins, ancient grottoes and the nearby Mediterranean, there are more than enough local distractions to occupy mixed interest couples as well, so you should be able to ski all week, while significant others will be happy not to.

Twenty-eight miles (42km) from Beirut, Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) is the biggest and best-equipped resort, with 42 slopes and 50 miles (80km) of ski track. Faraya itself, once the starting point, is now just a small town that you pass through on the way to the resort, which is actually situated in the tongue-twisting Ouyoun El Simane, Kfardebian. The skiable ranges of the resort’s three peaks begin at 1,850 metres and reach 2,465 metres at the highest point of the Mzaar Mountain. The treeless slopes create a landscape of rolling white dunes that visually have more in common with the desert than the pine-clad Alps we are familiar with.

The metre-and-a-half of fresh snow that fell on the Mzaar in mid-March was firm underneath with a dry, powdery top, despite a blazing Middle Eastern sun. This provided a controllable surface for beginners and intermediates to get the best out of the longer runs. These usually take two to four days to master depending on your skill level and attention span.

When hurtling down the Mzaar’s steeper pistes, advanced skiers should try to remember to save some breath for the spectacular views out over the Mediterranean. However, you will probably exhaust the trickier descents in a couple of days; at this point it is worth paying for a guide to show you what is not on the official maps.

The queues at most of the Mzaar’s 18 ski lifts are refreshingly short. Combined with the absence of vitriolic hordes elbowing their way through, this makes turnaround times of 20-30 seconds normal, which compares well with the 20-30 minutes of some European resorts. The plentiful lifts close by 4pm at the latest and you will almost certainly be grateful for the opportunity to rest. It is a shock to the sinews how much ground you can cover when queues are almost non-existent.

Après-ski activities are based around the Intercontinental Resort and Spa, Mzaar, which sits at the foot of several steep runs that drop straight down from the panoramic peak of the mountain, directly onto the terrace of the popular, Le Refuge restaurant, and the only five-star ski resort in the whole of Lebanon. At weekends the hotel and private apartments are packed to their Alpine-lodge-style rafters with the great, the good and the good-looking of Lebanese society. According to socialite Ditta Comair, the hotel and village is the centre of “Lebanon’s la dolce vita” during winter months. Thankfully, only a small percentage of these social high-flyers ski, so the slopes remain unexpectedly accessible.

Adding to the weekend buzz are busloads of school children and those who, oblivious to the cold, have made the long trip to see snow for the first time, smoke shisha on the slopes, toboggan, picnic on the piste and party to makeshift sound systems, turning the narrow mountain roads into four lanes of incredibly friendly traffic jam.

By 8pm on Sunday night it’s all over, as Beirutis take their hangovers back to the city and the cosy, relaxed mountain lodge ambiance returns. When the weather makes skiing impossible, a wallow in Les Therme du Mzaar’s heated pool watching snow swirl around the glass canopy overhead is a highly recommended change of pace to soothe aching thighs.

Further downhill there are several slopes on the smaller private resorts of Faqra and Zaarour to explore, along with Qanat Bakish, one of Lebanon’s better preserved towns.

Upcountry, Laqlouq, known as Lucky Luke, favours families and beginners with its unspoilt countryside and tree-lined ridges. Beyond that is the Cedars, Lebanon’s northernmost resort and home to its highest slope, at 3,088 metres. The runs here are more limited than on the Mzaar but there are still a few off-piste thrills to be had, and thanks to a natural amphitheatre-like setting, it also plays host to international competitions run by the Lebanese Ski Federation.

The resort is being modernised in time for the 2009 Asian Ski Championship to be held in Lebanon, but that’s not the only development on the horizon. The Sannine Zenith resort, with a projected cost of $1.2 billion (£690 million), plans to cater for 22,000 skiers on the Sannine Mountain, overlooking the picturesque Bekaa Valley. Its designers are working on Whistler’s current Olympic bid and Lebanon hopes to one day make its own pitch for the Winter Games.

Anything could happen, but this season or next, for snow-loving Europeans keen to carve powder on pastures new, a trip to Lebanon could make a refreshing break from the uber-resort, especially when the crowds are long gone and you can make-believe you are all alone on your own private mountain range.

Way to go

The season starts in December and runs into April. Visit ski lebanon to book your ski holidays in Lebanon.

Flights can be booked separately. Direct flights from London with British Airways and Middle East Airlines take four to five hours.

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Country profile: Lebanon
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