FROM COAST TO COAST
With over 35 beach clubs in Lebanon, LT rounds up the hottest destinations this summer for ever y taste. We also speak to consultant Ralph Nader on the new trends and developments that are taking the countr y’s coastline by storm
The face of Lebanon’s coastline has seen significant changes over the last decade as beach resorts continue to evolve to changing trends. General Manager of Amber Consulting, Ralph Nader, whose grandfather opened the first Lebanese beach club, St George, in 1936, is certainly an expert. He managed both St George and Riviera in the ‘90s and pioneered the first beach club outside Beirut, Oceana. In 2003 he developed Eddé Sands, before launching Amber Consulting, which has developed beach clubs across the entire MENA region. “The beach market has evolved a lot in the last 15 years, since 2001 when we opened the first beach club outside Beirut,” Nader says. “Ever ybody thought I was crazy, but it happened to be a huge hit and [has] encouraged more than 35 beach clubs to open outside Beirut.” He then talks about the huge evolution in the beach club concept, which used to be concentrated in Beirut and Jounieh and was more of a concrete resor t. “Damour now has some ver y nice beach clubs such as Ir is Beach and Damour Beach Resor t, which is currently in development to become a full resor t managed by an international chain and will completely change the concept of having a resor t by the sea in Lebanon.”
Nader is quick to pick up on new trends for beach goers. Recently, he’s noticed people returning to their roots, drawn to the or iginal beach clubs such as Spor ting and Long Beach. “We see a dr iver [dropping of f] a lady wearing a few thousand dollars’ worth of clothes and going to a beach club just to pay LL15,000 as an entrance and staying on a sunbed that is not of high quality, on concrete that still shows traces of the war.” Beach clubs are now also moving towards creating and managing their own restaurants, rather than renting out the space, which is better for “quality” and to match “concept and vision.” The beach spa is also a growing trend, Nader repor ts. “There are several resor ts in the south with spas, which are really just a few treatment rooms, such as Orchid in Jiyeh, and Byblos Sud. But, Eddé Sands has really pushed the concept, with several indoor and outdoor treatment rooms and a new indoor pool with a special treatment room. I think the concept of the spa was never adapted to the beach and it could be developed to [fur ther] attract people.” Nader expects a positive summer for the beach clubs, af ter a difficult few years for some. And with new openings and renovations upping the game, the Lebanese beach exper ience is maximizing its impact.
White Beach, Batroun