BEIRUT: A spattering of rain this week offered an unusual break from an otherwise dry spring, which despite fueling fears of drought has allowed for an early start at beach resorts and summer party spots. “It was nice [weather], but now it’s not,” Georges Boustany said Friday morning as clouds hung over his beach resort, Lazy B in Jiyyeh. Boustany opened Lazy B, a private beach south of Beirut, for the season on April 17, two full weeks before the usual start to beach season, he said.
Since outdoor spots closed last fall, the country has seen a pitiful rainfall of just 431 mm. And aside from a very rainy Thursday, spring has been dry and warm; temperatures rose as high as 37.2 degrees Celsius Monday. For some beaches and rooftop clubs that has meant an earlier start.
C Flow, a private beach club and restaurant in Byblos, held its soft opening in April and has been letting in beachgoers everyday since. The club is planning a grand opening party in line with the usual start of summer season on June 15, said Natasha Salameh of C Flow.
Once the resort officially kicks off, C Flow will begin its regular “Sundance” parties featuring live entertainment, music and drinks every Sunday. The resort has also installed new hot tubs in all of the bungalow areas.
Outdoor venues will also be tapping into the enormous market of football fans by putting up giant screens and broadcasting key matches of the World Cup. At C Flow, for example, “people can watch the big game while sitting in the Jacuzzi or pool,” Salameh said.
The Garten, an open-air electronic club on the new waterfront, is slated to open June 7. The club, which won accolades last summer as the city’s new nightlife destination, will also screen several major games of the World Cup on its enormous screen, Nemer Saliba, managing partner at parent company Uberhaus, told The Daily Star.
This summer, the Garten will relaunch its outdoor film screenings in partnership with Metropolis Cinema and plans to bring one of the world’s biggest DJs, Felix Dickinson, to Beirut on Aug. 16.
Saliba, whose company recently took over Iris beach club in Damour, on the coastline south of Beirut, said the beach would host its opening party on May 17. Iris will hold a series of evening beach parties every other Friday throughout the summer titled “Electric Sundown.” Open from 5 p.m. to midnight, the parties will feature DJs and other live entertainment, Saliba said.
The country’s preeminent rooftop venue Skybar will open at the beginning of June, said a staff member at parent company Sky Management. The club will focus on entertainment, he said, so fans of the exclusive party spot can expect concert announcements this summer.
Another one of the country’s biggest summer clubs, White, will hold its opening party on May 22, said Jacques Geagea, a manager at Addmind, which also operates Iris rooftop club in Downtown Beirut, Caprice, a lounge in Jal al-Dib, and several beaches. Geagea was hesitant to reveal too much about the updates to White this season, but he said the club had made changes to its lighting system and layout. “There are a lot of changes at the club,” he hinted vaguely.
Addmind recently acquired busy beach spot and summer restaurant La Plage, which is open despite ongoing renovations since the change in management. As part of the sprucing up, La Plage will get a new cocktail menu, though Geagea said Addmind would wait until summer 2015 to make any major changes to the venue.
Iris, which sits at the top of the An-Nahar Building in Martyrs’ Square, has already made the switch from its winter enclosure to its open roof summer setup. The venue has been fully booked every weekend, Geagea said. And Caprice Lounge will be making its move to an outdoor setting by the end of the month.
Gardenstate, located in Sin al-Fil near Souk al-Ahad, plans to open its open-air venue on May 15 or 16, Manager Nabil Hayek said. Like others, the summer venue has revamped its food menu and installed a small dance floor. “People can come have a dinner and a quiet drink during the week,” while on weekends the crowd gets a little rowdier, he said. Gardenstate also plans to screen the World Cup, though the spot hasn’t planned any specific events yet, Hayek added.
Major hotels have also announced their opening parties. Amethyste at the Phoenicia Hotel will open on May 22 and THE ROOF at the Four Seasons, steps away from the Phoenicia in Downtown, scheduled its sunset opener for the evening of May 15.
One of Beirut’s more down-to-earth rooftop bars, Coop d’Etat, has also removed its winter shelter for the summer season. A more reasonably priced outdoor spot, Coop d’Etat has bar specials from noon to 7 p.m., with a bottle of beer costing as little as LL3,000, Manager Roody Khalil said.
Open all day, Coop d’Etat has also put out new deck chairs for laid-back daytime tanning and developed a new brunch menu for the weekend, including its take on a classic English breakfast – sausages, baked beans and all. “We have a pool installed on Sundays to cool off the summer weekenders who want a free and close-enough destination in Beirut where they can have a rooftop pool experience,” Khalil said in an email. “And we are certainly showing the games for the World Cup.”