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

Ekaruna - - Contents -

“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.”

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