L’es­pace Al Bus­tan

Show­ing it’s not al­ways size that mat­ters, but rather qual­ity, ser­vice and de­sign, the L’es­pace Al Bus­tan is a com­mend­able new sanctuary spa, set in the hills over­look­ing Beirut.

Bespoke - - THE CONTENTS -

Lebanon’s Al Bus­tan, which oc­cu­pies a hill­top lo­ca­tion in Beit Mery with soaring views across Beirut and the Mediter­ranean, has earned a level of na­tional rev­er­ence that goes well beyond the in­suf­fi­cient cat­e­gori­sa­tion of a grand five-star ho­tel. Orig­i­nally built by busi­ness­man Emile Bus­tani and com­pleted in 1963 by his wife Laura, af­ter he died in a tragic aero­plane ac­ci­dent be­fore con­struc­tion had been com­pleted, the Al Bus­tan is to­day a sym­bol of de­fi­ance, not just be­cause it faith­fully stayed open through­out the coun­try’s lengthy civil war, but also be­cause it is the home of Lebanon’s only win­ter fes­ti­val of clas­si­cal mu­sic. In­deed, de­spite the odds nearly al­ways be­ing stacked against her, the prop­erty’s owner, Myrna Bus­tani, Emile’s now 79-year-old daugh­ter, who was Lebanon’s first fe­male MP in the 1960s, says: “Ev­ery year there’s some sort of cri­sis and we say: ‘My God, are we go­ing to carry on with the fes­ti­val?’ and we al­ways do.” Yet, like any­thing or any­one of a cer­tain age, the Al Bus­tan has strug­gled to find rel­e­vance in to­day’s mar­ket – beyond of course its win­ter fes­ti­val and many a sum­mer wed­ding. Re­mark­ably though, it has seem­ingly found it in the form of a state-ofthe-art new spa, called L’es­pace Al Bus­tan. “Many years ago, when we bought the land ad­ja­cent to the ho­tel, there was a charm­ing old Le­banese stone house on it,” ex­plains Laura La­houd, the third gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of the Bus­tani fam­ily who was in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of the new an­nex. “We knew we wanted to pro­tect it and keep it as it is be­cause it was very charm­ing, so the ob­vi­ous thing to do was to turn it into a spa.” The de­lib­er­a­tions on just how they would go about do­ing this took over six years, and in­volved the Le­banese ar­chi­tect An­toine Maa­mari and later Laz­zarini Pick­er­ing Ar­chitetti, an Ital­ian firm, who con­ceived the fi­nal project. Amaz­ingly, the out­side of the old house was kept per­fectly in­tact – to the ex­tent that each stone was dis­man­tled, num­bered, and put back in the ex­act same place from which it came – while the in­te­rior was com­pletely re­vamped. The re­sult is a stun­ning com­bi­na­tion of old and new, of East and West, a mod­ern Ori­en­tal gem that cov­ers: 1,000 sqm of space; two floors; four treat­ment rooms; a re­lax­ation area; a well­ness stu­dio for dance, yoga and pi­lates; a Techn­o­gym-out­fit­ted gym; a hy­dro pool; a plunge pool; a sauna; a steam room; a real Turk­ish ham­mam, and an ab­so­lutely stun­ning in­door swim­ming pool. Best of all, thanks to this gor­geous new spa, the Al Bus­tan has ef­fec­tively rein­vented it­self as a mod­ern health farm with old­school charm.

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