Lebanon’s ski slopes finally open

Businesses scramble to take advantage of late snow

Ski lift at Mzaar
A lift boosts skiers at Mzaar ski resort during last year's winter season (AFP)

As the belated four day storm hit the country this week, one thought was on the mind of many: will Lebanon’s ski slopes be open this weekend?

The answer, in brief, is yes — and excitement levels are palpable as business owners and consumers alike rush to take advantage of what might be the only ski weekend this winter.

The sudden storm caught ski resort operators by surprise, according to those Executive spoke to, and most are currently scrambling to prepare the slopes for eager skiers. Christian Rizk, director of Mzaar ski resort in Faraya, says they will be opening four slopes tomorrow — Jonction, Baby, Refuge and Renard — the first time they open for business this winter. He anticipates many will be hitting the slopes this weekend but asks that they act responsibly and stay off areas that are closed due to unsafe snow levels.   

Both Laklouk and Cedars ski resorts will be open as well with Laklouk operating all of its slopes and Cedars still deciding which to open, according to Ronald Sayegh of Ski Lebanon, an online resource for the country’s alpine community. Sayegh says there is an increased buzz of excitement from ski resort operators and downhill enthusiasts — and thus foresees a busy weekend.

The ski slopes are not the only beneficiaries of the fresh snowfall as restaurants and hotels situated close to the ski resorts also look forward to filling up their venues as well. Joost Komen, reservations manager at Mzaar Intercontinental Resort, says that while he is unable to share exact occupancy rates, there has already been a significant increase in the number of room reservations for this weekend and the following days. “We anticipate it is going to be a hectic weekend indeed,” he says.

According to the front desk manager at Shangri-La in Laklouk, reservations at their restaurant went up but room occupancy was still the same this Friday at noon probably because, in his opinion, the suddenness of the storm did not allow for people to make plans yet.

Some restaurants, such as the popular Rikky’z in Faraya, also did not report a major increase in their reservations yet but are expecting a lot of last minute diners and walk-ins eager to relax after a long day on the slopes.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is sunny and the roads leading to the country’s ski resorts are sure to be jammed from the early hours of the morning with winter sports lovers and those who want to enjoy the snow. While this might keep those who dislike traffic and crowds away from the resorts, the lure of the season’s first snow could also prove too strong to resist. We will know soon enough.

Nabila Rahhal

Nabila is Executive's hospitality, tourism and retail editor. She also covers other topics she's interested in such as education and mental health. Prior to joining Executive, she worked as a teacher for eight years in Beirut. Nabila holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from the American University of Beirut.