BEIRUT: Lebanon’s upmarket beach clubs are as much a part of the national character as its mountains, its cedars and its tire burning. You won’t find all of Lebanon in them, but you will find a certain section of society that is as Lebanese as it comes, in its own way.
For a classic luxury tanning session, head to Beirut’s Riviera, a resort that is a slice of Lebanon’s folklore, one of the places to be seen if you were part of the stylish set in the ’50s and ’60s.
Where some resorts go for natural glamour, Riviera’s style is all bling. Admire your fellow tanners’ suspiciously impressive assets as waiters cater to your every need. When you get bored, head to the private Jacuzzi area.
With its central location, glamorous reputation and in-water bar, Riviera has been described as SkyBar on water. No kids allowed.
For more old-school glamour, the St. Georges resort, a short drive up the coast from the Riviera, is where you should be.
Notorious as the hotel where journalists swapped stories during the Civil War, St. Georges is committed to retaining classic Beirut, proudly displaying a huge Stop Solidere sign over the front of the abandoned hotel, and on the T-shirts of their waiters.
As unpretentious as luxury beach clubs can be, St. Georges attracts the typical poolside clientele, including plenty of Beirutis seeking a way to cool off at the weekend.
In comparison to the Riviera and St. Georges, the Pangea off the coast of Jiyyeh is relatively new, at only 6 years old, but not too young for a facelift. This year the resort becomes the Warwick Pangea, incorporated into the international hotel chain.
Currently open for the summer are the resort’s 22 bungalows, as well as the beach, but come the grand opening in September the resort will boast a 63-room hotel and three new restaurants.
Pangea aims to set itself apart from the pack by providing everything you could want in one place. The new resort will include a beauty spa, gymnasium, kids club and a squash court. The resort also offers a range of water sports, including scuba diving lessons and jet ski rentals.
Bungalows may be a slightly misleading name for the accommodations at the Pangea, which incorporate their own deck and private plunge pool, and look out onto naturally sandy shores, a rarity in Lebanon. This is the place for a relaxing break, with all your needs catered for.
Also in Jiyyeh is Orchid, which prides itself on producing a private beach experience, with a range of different huts on offer, complete with their own Jacuzzis. A slicker experience than Pangea, don’t even think about heading into this over-21 beach club without being fully primped and preened.
Once in, settle into the all-white lounge area, where you can eye up some of Lebanon’s hottest clubbers, and on the weekends enjoy the relaxing chill out and reggae music.
For more well-heeled party people, Edde Sands, on the edge of the city of Jbeil, is the place for you. Find glamour and sophistication, and just a touch of debauchery, at their weekend pool parties. Work off that hangover the next day on one of their instantly recognizable bright pink beachside loungers.
The modern, sweeping resort has an impressive three-tiered pool, a VIP pool – if you’re feeling particularly flash – and will this year open an indoor-heated pool in its incredibly popular spa, which draws devoted customers.
Edde Sands also prides itself on being ecologically sound, with the buildings incorporating local sandstone intended to represent old Byblos.