When nos­tal­gia meets lux­ury

Executive Magazine - - Front Page - By Nabila Rah­hal

Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort re­opens its doors to a glam­orous, in­ter­na­tional ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence

Ask al­most any Beirut res­i­dent about Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort and they will get a misty eyed look be­fore re­count­ing a child­hood mem­ory in­volv­ing the wa­ter­fall “cas­cades”, club­bing at the ho­tel’s leg­endary night­club or cel­e­brat­ing a wed­ding on the pri­vate sandy beach. The list of mem­o­ries of this his­toric re­sort goes on and on.

Opened in 1978 (in an area that now neigh­bors Ouzai) by Raja Saab, a prom­i­nent busi­ness­man, and his fam­ily, Sum­mer­land quickly be­came a place where peo­ple could stem the tide of worry brought on by the grim re­al­ity of the coun­try’s long and bloody Civil War.

Sum­mer­land closed in the early 1990s, sup­pos­edly for nec­es­sary main­te­nance and up­keep. To­day it is fi­nally be­ing re­opened - with a to­tally ren­o­vated, modern and lux­u­ri­ous look - un­der the op­er­a­tion of Kempin­ski, Europe’s old­est lux­ury ho­tel group, which was es­tab­lished in 1897.

The project’s re­sort sec­tion has been in op­er­a­tion since early July and the ho­tel’s grand open­ing is set for Septem­ber 2016.

Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort Kempin­ski marks the first open­ing of an in­ter­na­tional lux­ury ho­tel chain in the coun­try since the Four Sea­sons seven years ago, and is es­pe­cially note­wor­thy given the coun­try’s tough eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion and the strug­gles Le­banon’s hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is cur­rently fac­ing.

SUM­MER­LAND BY NUM­BERS

So­ciété Générale d’En­treprises Touris­tiques (SGET), a Saudi-Le­banese corporation, owns Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Sum­mer­land Vil­lage, a three­build­ing res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment (73 apart­ments in to­tal) on the same land as the ho­tel and re­sort project it­self.

SGET pays Kempin­ski an an­nual fee to op­er­ate the ho­tel and has in­vested a to­tal of $500 mil­lion into the con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the 75,000sqm project, which in­cludes the 153-room ho­tel prop­erty with its pri­vate pool, a 1,500sqm spa, seven restau­rants, a pri­vate ma­rina and fi­nally the re­sort sec­tion.

The in­vest­ment also in­cludes the res­i­den­tial Sum­mer­land Vil­lage and the 583 cab­ins through which you are granted ac­cess to the re­sort. Cab­ins are cur­rently owned by their orig­i­nal own­ers who can choose to re­sale through SGET if they wish to do so. Sales of the apart­ments and the cab­ins (if the orig­i­nal own­ers choose to sell) are the do­main of SGET; the 100 to 400sqm apart­ments are be­ing sold at $18,000 to $22,000 per square me­ter.

Dag­mar Symes, the Gen­eral Man­ager of Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort Kempin­ski, de­scribes the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Kempin­ski and SGET as a pos­i­tive one. “Kempin­ski has been en­trusted to man­age the Sum­mer­land Ho­tel, us­ing the brand’s ex­per­tise, rep­u­ta­tion and con­sis­tency in quality ser­vice delivery. There is very close col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween us and the own­er­ship com­pany to as­sure the suc­cess of the en­tire project. Ev­ery de­ci­sion we make must be taken with the best in­ter­est of the own­er­ship com­pany and the prof­itabil­ity of the ho­tel in mind,” says Symes.

THE OLD AND THE NEW

Vis­i­tors to Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort will rec­og­nize some el­e­ments of the orig­i­nal re­sort from their child­hood, such as the wa­ter­fall at the edge of the main pool or the pri­vate sandy beach, al­though those two fea­tures are smaller than the orig­i­nal ones. Oth­er­wise, the re­sort has been com­pletely mod­ern­ized with Kempin­ski’s touch of lux­ury and is al­most un­rec­og­niz­able from the orig­i­nal model.

As soon as the re­sort was re­opened, many cabin own­ers flocked to Sum­mer­land to rekin­dle happy mem­o­ries and make new ones with their fam­i­lies. While some cus­tomers nos­tal­gi­cally told Ex­ec­u­tive they pre­fer the look of the old Sum­mer­land, most felt that the re­sort’s glam­ourous vibe was still there, al­beit with a new, more modern look.

“Kempin­ski has been en­trusted to man­age the Sum­mer­land Ho­tel, us­ing the brand’s ex­per­tise, rep­u­ta­tion and con­sis­tency in quality ser­vice delivery.”

Sum­mer­land Ho­tel & Re­sort re­opens its doors to a glam­orous, in­ter­na­tional ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence

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