COVER STORY: TOP OF THEM’ MALL
Located in the Casa of Zahle, along the Pan Arab Highway, Cascada village is a precious luxury connecting Lebanon to its neighbouring countries. Nayla Kurd explores the five-star attraction
“Cascada is not a new idea,” claims Cascada’s Chairman, Cheikh Maurice Torbay Hachem. “It is a concept. One that has been tested and proven over the years.”
Cascada Village has been developed by Inter Mall Group Holding S.A.L, a company established and managed by Lebanese partners, with over 50 years of experience in the development and management of regional malls and mixed-use projects outside the main cities, operating 6 mega malls in North and South America.
Building on this combined expertise, the partners chose to capitalise on their previous successes and invest their wealth in their homeland, Lebanon, with an aim to welcome visitors from the country and the region into a world of endless possibilities.
“After having spent 75 years abroad, I saw the Bekaa’s potential and wanted to establish a project that would stimulate its economy and commercial activity, and promote tourism in the region,” said Cheikh Maurice Torbay Hachem.
“All touristic countries build destinations to serve as magnets and attractions to draw in more tourists. Dubai attracts millions of visitors because of its shopping and entertainment destinations, so do Santo Domingo and Las Vegas, who all expanded to include so many destinations that attract millions of tourists annually,” he added.
Cascada Village, a 200,000 square meters property located in the heart of the Bekaa Valley, is the tourist destination to watch in the coming years. Work on the project began around four years ago. Today, the project is almost complete, pending the hotel for which construction will begin later this year.
You know how there’s always one great aspect of a place that stands out? That one restaurant with the delicious apple pie? Cascada is exactly NOT this, according to Cheikh Maurice Torbay Hachem. He believes that “Cascada Village’s uniqueness stems from the fact that it is a place where friends and families can spend an entire day, with something for everyone to do, given the comprehensiveness and varied offerings of the indoor and outdoor activities.”
Cascada Village offers so much that it’s hard to pinpoint one great feature when everything’s so great. Put in simple structure,
Cascada Village is centred around a regional mall, Cascada Mall - a 150,000 square meters built-up area with a 9000 square meters retail anchor, another 9000 square meters hypermarket, a 5000 square meters family entertainment centre, coupled with 11 theatre cinema complexes, 1500 seats in the food court, and 5000 parking spaces - but offers so much more than shopping.
“For us, it is about always offering something new and continually expanding the project with indoor and outdoor activities to keep us at the forefront with the latest trends in shopping and entertainment,” said Torbay Hachem.
“Arcadia Weddings and Events, Cascada Village’s event hosting venue is an indoor and outdoor space that can host up to 2,000 guests. Whether it be a wedding or graduation party, it is the perfect fit for all social and corporate celebrations,” he said. “We also have an entertainment park.” Rush Extreme Sports Park is a 14,000 square meters area dominated by exciting activities to dive into, namely off-road karting and extreme paintball. Designed by London’s Apex Circuit Design, the off-road karting covers 11,000 square meters with a 450 meters long track featuring bumps and jumps for an exciting experience. And hear this, the track, which is the first of its kind in Lebanon, has customised dirt buggies and the latest safety measures.
“And a medical centre.” Cascada Medical Centre, as its name suggests, is the unique address for doctors’ clinics, laboratories, spas, and beauty centres. Addressing the region’s demand for a strategically located medical and healthcare facility, the centre is close to a wealth of leisure activities and benefits from the mall’s footfall.
But that’s not all, when visiting the Bekaa for work, social events, or plain old tourism, Cascada Village brings you Cascada Hotel for one fine stay, and Cascada Amphitheatre, the open-air Roman-style theatre that hosts concerts and festivals featuring local and international performers. All of this amidst the beautiful Bekaa backdrop, legendary for its one-of-a-kind landscape.
But, the Bekaa offers more than just gorgeous scenery. With a significant population of 600,000 residents, among them 10,000 university students, the Bekaa spans over 43% of Lebanon’s national territory. The Bekaa operates over 600 registered establishments, with 25 banks, 20 hotels, 15 hospitals and 15 wineries. “That’s why we chose the Bekaa,” said Torbay Hachem. “We were aiming to build a world-class destination right in the Bekaa residents’ hometown.”
“In addition, the Bekaa’s wineries and attractions are drawing in people from all around Lebanon, and we want Cascada Village to become yet another stop for them,” added Torbay Hachem. “The Bekaa locals are very excited about the opening of the mall for it has become a destination of pride for them,” he said. “Furthermore, the Bekaa’s residents will benefit from increased job opportunities, commercial activity, and the excitement that a new mall always generates.”
Lebanon is deemed for its turbulent and chaotic nature, with politics being at the forefront of the unstable environment, but Cascada Village’s investors have confidence because time and time again, the country rises from the ashes, damaged as ever, but still intact. “Our project is for the long-term, and our confidence in the Bekaa’s potential is solid,” the investors claim. “Besides, we have come back to invest our experience and wealth in our homeland, to benefit its economy and people; and just as Lebanese excel everywhere abroad, we want to shine in our home country.”