Lebanese wine tasting at Chateau St. Thomas!

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Chateau St Thomas is a charming winery covering over 50 hectares in Kab Elias, a small town in the lush Bekaa Valley. The establishment is run by the Touma family, which boasts a long-standing tradition of 100 years in the alcohol business, and this month saw the launch of their latest white wine, the Obeidy St Thomas.

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Produced solely from the local Obeidy grape, an indigenous variety to Lebanon, the wine is a tribute to the country and has been created in partnership with Wine Mosaic in an effort to help preserve and promote native Lebanese grapes. The grapes were DNA tested to ensure that they were indeed 100% Lebanese in origin. The wine itself blends a sweet overtone with crisp undercurrents and a pleasing finish that is simultaneously fruity and grassy which brings to mind the wine’s nearly-clear colour. The result is a cool and complex vintage, perfect for the hotter months.

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The ambition is to have Obeidy grapes become as pervasive a name as more recognisable foreign types, and while time will be the ultimate arbiter, the start could hardly have been better. The wine’s unique finish makes it hard to forget and harder still to refuse another glass.

By Sany Farajallah

Lebanese Short Film Waves ’98 by Ely Dagher Wins Cannes 2015 Palme d’or!

Lebanese film maker Ely Dagher, has won the prestigious Short Film Palme D’Or, in this years 68th Cannes Film Festival 2015. A well-deserved win, for ‘Waves ’98’ a 15-minute animated film that explores the disillusioned life in the suburbs of a segregated Beirut. 

Having received great reviews for this short film, renowned director Abderrahmane Sissako presided over the jury in this category, alongside Lebanese filmmaker and artist Joanna Hadjithomas. 

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The main character Omar whose voice is played by actor Elie Bassila is lured into the depth of the city after an unusual discovery. Immersed into a world that is so close yet so isolated from his reality, he finds himself struggling to keep his attachments, and his sense of home.

Dagher is the first Lebanese director to receive the award since Maroun Baghdadi took home the Jury Prize at the 1991 festival for Hors La Vie.

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It is a great day for the Lebanese film industry, where a growing industry is emerging in animated cinematography. Beirut View wishes Ely Dagher all the future success as he goes forward in his career, and we await to find out what will be coming out next from this talented man.

By @NaomiSargeant

Bobbi Brown Launches The Brightening Brick

The Brightening Brick Brightening Brick_Pastel Peach 

“Warmth, color and luminosity all in one.”– Bobbi Brown

Brightening Brick takes multitasking makeup to a whole new level for a fresh take on shimmer. Imagine the warmth of a bronzer, the pure color of a blush and the luminosity of a highlighter—all in one compact.

Soft, luminous pearls brighten the complexion while a skin tone-correct wash of color delivers a healthy, natural glow. Designed for all ages, complexions and skin types, Brightening Brick imparts a dose of sheer radiance, without drying the skin or settling into fine lines.

Available in six color combinations, Brightening Brick is the perfect finishing touch to any look. It instantly awakens tired skin, leaving it fresh and glowing. Because who doesn’t want to look lit-from-within?

How It Works:

Unique Texture
A unique manufacturing method known as “slurry” creates a creamy texture that seamlessly blends into the skin. The Brightening Brick begins as a creamy paste and is then poured into a pan.The formula is pressed while wet and allowed to air-dry.  The result is a softer, moisture-rich powder with true long-lasting color.

Brightening Finish
Infused with a skin-brightening blend of Mulberry, Grape and Scutellaria Extracts, Brightening Brick instantly illuminates the complexion. Six shades with varying levels of pearl combine to enhance each individual’s natural skin tone with a semi-transparent luminosity. The color combination and soft pearl effect leaves skin looking more radiant and even-toned.

Conditioning
Sodium Hyaluronate, a powerful moisture magnet, helps hold moisture to the skin to prevent dryness that can exaggerate the appearance of fine lines and pores.

Oil Absorbing
Porous powders help to absorb excess oil and control shine for hours.

Protect
Vitamin E works to brighten the complexion.

How to Apply:
For an instant brightening effect, dust lightly across cheeks with Face Blender or Blush Brush. Use it on cheeks as a soft blush or all over the face for veil-like luminosity.

Instagram:@bobbibrownME
Facebook: Bobbi Brown Middle East
www.bobbibrown-me.com

Mikael D Fashion Show comes to Lebanon!

Mikael D Fashion Designer

Mikael D Fashion Designer

Mikael D the Canadian Lebanese fashion designer, whose dresses are worn by Mariah Carey, and can be seen at red carpet events, and gala evenings attended by such stars as Halle Berry, Shakira, Kylie Minogue and a host of other celebrities who have chosen to wear his outstanding designs.

His collections can be found at high-end department stores from Neiman Marcus to Harvey Nichols, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew and many more…

His most breath taking recent custom made creation was a hand embroidered and beaded wedding gown for Taiwanese bride Hannah Quinlivan to Taiwanese mega pop sensation and actor Jay Choo. The wedding took place in a very English country manor setting in Yorkshire, UK.

His designs glitter and Mikael D goes from strength to strength with each new collection, as Lebanon was honoured to see his latest Autumn Winter 2015 collection Mystical China on the opening fashion week at the Beirut City Center. Front row included many celebrities, fashion bloggers and influential stylists all impressed with Mikael D’s breathtaking collection.

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Take a Lebanese Wine Tour at Chateau Ksara!

Spring weekends are the best times to visit the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, which takes between an hours to an hour and a half from Beirut, depending on traffic. The drive is really easy and you can always follow Google Maps if you need directions. There are several wineries in the Bekaa region; the oldest, largest and most visited of these is Chateau Ksara, in the village of Ksara, West Bekaa near to Zahle. Founded in 1857 by Jesuit Priests who produced the country’s first dry red wine.

Chateau Ksara

Entrance to Chateau Ksara

All of Ksara’s vineyards are located in the central and western Bekaa Valley, with an average altitude of 1,000 meters. The Bekaa has dry and very hot summers, but mild springs with cool evenings.

Vineyards at Chateau Ksara

Vineyards at Chateau Ksara

It is a full days visit to Chateau Ksara, the tour of the caves and lunch are best done at a leisurely pace, taking in the beautifully manicured gardens and surroundings of the Chateau; which explains why Ksara attracts up to 40,000 visitors per year.

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Caves de Ksara

The discovery of the caves happened when a fox stole a chicken from the priest’s farm, he was chased, and the fox led them to the discovery of a labyrinth of caves, which today are the Caves de Ksara.

Tours are given in a choice of three languages Arabic, French and English; from 1st April to 31st October, 7 days per week from 9am to 6pm. Inside the caves, it is a very cool 13 to 15 degrees Celsius; they are quite aery, yet intriguing at the same time. There are 6 tunnels that span over 2 kilometers underground, which is an ideal place and climate within which to store wine.

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The oak barrels line the cave walls, along with bottles and ancient vessels that carry a special mold, that has grown over the centuries, a reminder of how long they have been down there.

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Bottles have been left since 1857 with some that still contain wine, however not drinkable due to the deterioration of the corks. They have the same mold, which has been left untouched and lends itself to give the maturing wines in the tunnels their unique identity.

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These bottles are left from 1857 and a reminder of the wine making history that is part of Chateau Ksara today. There are over 900,000 bottles in the cellars from last years harvest to fine vintages from 1918.

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The tour takes you on through to their Arak making rooms with an old copper still on display.

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  Copper Still

They make the Ksara Arak, with imported aniseed grains from Syria which gives it that distinct and unique, smell and flavor perfect when drunk with Lebanese mezze. These are stored in clay vessels to mature.

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After the tour enjoy some wine tasting paired with a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, and desserts at the Chateau Ksara restaurant. Their most popular wine in the spring and summer months is the Ksara Sunset rose, made from Cabernet Franc and Syrah, it has a fruity flavor with spicy undertones and a powerful nose of red berries.

Chateau Ksara is definitely worth the visit and if you want to make a weekend of it in the Bekaa there a numerous hotels and even a country club, The West Bekaa Country Club that you can stay in and enjoy the vineyards of the region.

Chateau Ksara, Ksara, Bekaa, Lebanon. Tel:+961 8 813495 

By @NaomiSargeant

Match making in Lebanon!

Last summer it was Tinder, now will it be the newly launched Lebanese version, Match Mallows that will have everyone talking?

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Curious to see if this new dating app will be able to fulfill all my single friends dreams, I decided to give it a try.

First up Match Mallows tells you that you need to sign in via your Facebook profile, however your full name and all your details will not be shared to this app and your profile is completely anonymous.

That is their first lie, if something is anonymous then you should be able to choose your own nickname; Match Mallow puts your first name on your profile via Facebook but omits just your family name. Not so anonymous when you have quite a unique name such as mine ‘Naomi’!

Yes we know in Lebanon there are a few thousand Hady’s, several thousand Hassan’s and god knows how many Elie’s; but Naomi is not so common just type it into Facebook search from Lebanon and there I will pop up.

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So why can you not choose to create an account with just an email? This to me would make more sense and at the same time the developers would gather a large database of emails and data from the profiles.

Ok, so now I have set my account up via Facebook, a series of questions to create a personality profile pop up. This is quite fun, I never really thought about which puppy I would think was cuter or what would be my ideal first date setting. It carries you away thinking will my perfect match pop up with the exact same choices?

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A series of these from what kind of wedding would I prefer large, just family and friends or just the two of us or no marriage at all. Some really do make you think like the one below, which place would you choose?

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Others asked about what kind of pet you would like, I have managed to kill so many fish I opted for the cute kitten (not that they have a better mortality rating with me, they normally end up as road kill) maybe I should have just went for no pets allowed.

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After 27 questions to find your personality you are now available to match. You would think the personality on your profile would pop up after all these questions. A point the developers should work on. I found mine by tapping through all the parts on the menu in my profile. Which is where I found that you can change your photo and check off options within Facebook to not allow access to your friends or photos for more privacy.

Match Mallows has me down as creative, stylish (if only I had the money), money minded (well we all need security) and imaginative. The bit after gives you the option to post it to Facebook, no I want to be anonymous, that’s what Match Mallows promised!

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Now to the matching which is what you really want to hear about. See this is where the app flaws start to become apparent. It never asked for my age, yes you can put this in your profile settings which I did afterwards, but unlike Tinder it doesn’t ask you your sexual preferences, age range and the most important thing unfortunately in Lebanon is religion.

My matches were not even close as a percentage to my question profiling, and no I don’t want a guy that is younger than my daughter or a man with kids or one that is already dating!

So Match Mallows to also show you how not anonymous this app is I screen shot a few of my matches.

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Yup this one either loves his niece a lot or maybe he’s divorced with a daughter or god forbid he’s a pedophile.

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This guy loves to put small kids on cars and drive off with them, maybe child protection services should get this app.

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Oh another doting family guy, I hope they are not all his kids?

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Dani looks rather young for 35, or he thought Match Mallows was a talent app and was hoping to find a modeling agency for his kid.

So far no matches that I would be interested in, so I go back to the menu to search for them to no avail but I do find what the app hopes to charge for their premium upgraded service.

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So If I want unlimited friend requests, to meet people from around the world, get rid of ads and yes here is the catch unlock the 100% matches feature. How do I know that if I pay it will be any better than the 67% matches I have been presented with so far?

Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance, so let’s go back to see more matches, I might just get lucky!

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This one clearly has a girlfriend, and I am sure she will not be too happy if she finds out Philippe is looking for a new match.

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Oh yes bingo a perfect match he just loves to cuddle you in bed and be there for you!

After this final unsuccessful attempt at trying to find at least one match, I definitely will not be recommending this app to any of my single or divorced friends. It is a pity because this app does have potential, maybe a little more thought should be put into the profile matching details. Like what age guy or girl you want to match with, whether he or she is not married and lest us not forget, after all we are in Lebanon, what religion he or she may be.

Happy matching should you download the Match Mallows app. I would love to hear your feedback!

By @NaomiSargeant

The Best Armenian Restaurant in Badaro!

Badaro is a residential neighbourhood that was planned in the 1950’s, which was the epicenter of the swinging 60’s of Beirut before the civil war. After 15 years of civil war, and several turbulent years later Badaro is reviving again. Now with over 10 new coffee shops, bars and restaurants, this is the spot to head to for a calmer setting and more eclectic crowd.

Onno Bistro is a Lebanese Armenian restaurant once found only in Bourj Hammoud, in the heart of the Armenian district of Beirut. Now they have set up shop in Badaro, with a new branch opening in Hamra soon!

Onno Lebanese Armenian Bistro

Onno Lebanese Armenian Bistro

Onno Bistro, is located in a quiet neighbourhood, which fills up quickly both during the week days and weekends. It is advisable to book ahead, to avoid disappointment. There are five tables set up on the terrace that can accommodate couples, tables of four or groups of 10; and a seated bar on the terrace that seats up to four for a more casual set up. Inside is a simple affair, with around 14 tables that tend to cater for groups from 6 to 8 people on the weekends.

The decor is simple however the lighting is a little on the bright side, but it’s not the decor that you go to Onno for, it is the food that is the star here. The Lebanese Armenian food is what this bistro is all about, it’s a good place for friends to enjoy one another’s company, while sharing plates and sipping on Arak. Most of the menu is based upon Lebanese dishes, with a traditional Armenian section that is impeccable.

Onno Armenian Restaurant Badaro

Armenian Salad

Starting with an Armenian salad of finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers all tossed with a pomegranate molasses dressing. It was crisp, juicy and not overly sweet with the right amount of dressing that didn’t drown the salad.

Diced beed with sour cherry

Ras Asfour Karaz

A dish to die for that you cannot stop yourself eating is the Ras Asfour Karaz, which literally translates to cherry birds heads; which is actually sautéed tender beef cubes, cooked in a sour cherry sauce.

Beef Manti

Beef Manti

No Armenian menu would be complete without Manti; stuffed baked dumplings, that were moist, that were not over cooked or dry like I have experienced in other Armenian restaurants. These were just perfect, with a choice of either chicken, beef, spinach or soujouk (Armenian spicy sausage), covered in a creamy garlic yogurt and sumac (lemony spice).

Pumpkin Kebbe

Kebbe La2tin

A vegetarian dish that is served throughout Lebanon, and I must say that these are actually some of the best pumpkin kebbe I have had in a restaurant in Lebanon for a long time. They were not over fried or oily, with a soft spinach and chickpea stuffing which made them quite irresistible.

Kattayef & Loukoum Biscuits

Kattayef & Loukoum Biscuits

Dessert was on the house, because they were updating their menu, no complaints there of course; how can you not resist kattayef, mini cream filled pancakes with sugar syrup poured over them; or biscuits sandwiched with loukoum (turkish delight) and all washed down with some mint tea.

The overall experience at Onno was excellent, the service was perfect, and the manageress made sure we were well looked after throughout the meal. Most people were drinking wine, arak or beer with the main focus being on the food. The meal we had, was light, as most of the tables had multiples of dishes on them, but I wanted to order only the Armenian dishes, so the bill came to around $55 with sparkling water. Excellent value and I have even been back since for a lunch visit for their plat-du-jour which was also just as delicious.

Onno Lebanese Armenian Bistro, Badaro Street, Beirut, Lebanon. Tel: +961 70 383 203

Last day of the Horeca Show 2015!

Today is the last day of Horeca 2015, Lebanon’s biggest hospitality industry tradeshow.

You can visit the stands showcasing beverages, local NGO produce, catering equipment, interior design services, furniture, professional services, outfitting products and lots more.

Many local wine producers are offering tastings like Château Ksara, Karam Winery, Château Barka.

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Karam Wines

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Château Barka

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Local beer producers 961 Beer, brewed with attitude is on tap and Beirut Beer the new kid on the block has a bar set up for you to grab a beer to sit and chat at.

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Beirut Beer

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Many chefs are competing in competitions and doing life cooking, along with amazing chocolate art sculptures.

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Pass by Cup and Roll for some pizza cups, bite sized morsels with either savoury or sweet fillings.

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Tawlet has launched its Party 3al Tawlet at this year’s show and teamed up with graphic designer and artist Rana Salam, to create this years installation.

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J2 Vodka the first local vodka made with Lebanese snowmelt is offering up ice shots, that gives the Russians some serious competition.

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After three days of competing in the Lebanese Bartenders Competition the International judges Naomi Sargeant, Mathias Giroud, Yannick Chaloyard and Andrea Fidora will be announcing the 5 finalists today at 5.30pm. They will be presented with a black box and must use their knowledge to create a cocktail to present to the judges.

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If you are in the hospitality trade don’t miss the last day of Horeca, and if you do not have a business card for trade entry then the public can pay LL50,000 to enter.

Horeca 2015, Biel.

By @NaomiSargeant

Riding a Bicycle in Beirut!

If you have ever driven in Beirut you will know that the drivers do not bide by the rules (maybe the new traffic laws will change that). Now imagine what riding a bicycle on the streets of Beirut would be like?

Frédéric Morhain was one guy that fell in love with Beirut, the la7m bi3ajin and he as he says, ‘I’m not advocating the crazy driving that goes on, but I have to confess that the traffic jams and Lebanese drivers were why I loved riding!’. 

Riding a bicycle in Beirut is certainly a risky affair, and one not to be taken lightly, however there are bike groups that are helping improve awareness, that organise safe areas for bike riders and offer tours by bike in Beirut. 

On May 10th there will be a ‘Bikeathon Baldati Bike 2015‘, Bring your Bike and join in for a 17 km free ride on the streets of Beirut, that will be car free on the day! 

Beirut by Bike, offers bicycles for rent, for both adults and children, including tricycles for those that cannot manage two wheels, and families can equally enjoy a ride with child seats built into the tricycles. You can ride from 8am-midnight in Biel, with clearly marked bike lanes, that are car free and you can also take the bike out along the corniche. They also organise night rides throughout the streets of Beirut.

The new bike and walking tracks on the Beirut New Waterfont offer you a 5 km pedestrian and cyclist trail. The track starts from Beirut Souks at Trablous Street facing Al Ajami square, through Patriarch Hoyek Street and towards the Beirut new waterfront, on the second level of the promenade, which extends over a kilometer and a half, that is open to the public. The track resumes at Allenby Street at the Beirut Souks. (Refer to track map)

Open every Saturday from 4am to 8pm and every Sunday from 10am – 8pm, the track zone will be declared automobile traffic free for the specified timeframe. Bicycles can be rented at the start point in Beirut Souks.

So enjoy your bike in Beirut, and remember always wear a helmet!

By @NaomiSargeant

Beach fantastic at Edde Sands

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This past Sunday with blue skies and sunshine hitting 26 celsius during the peak hours, it was perfect for tanning and bringing the kids along to play in the sand.

Next month in May the beach resorts, clubs and pools will be officially opening, until then you can enjoy those that are open all year round, like Edde Sands Hotel and Wellness Resort that has free entry off season.

Upon entering Edde Sands you feel the serenity and a sense of calm, with the well manicured plant beds and flowering shrubs. It is well designed, maintained and constantly being kept clean throughout the day.

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What is great about this resort is that it caters to both families, groups of friends, couples and singles (Weekdays adult $20, weekends adult $28 & Kids $10) Membership is advisable for regular beach goers during the summer peak season, it offers the best value (Purple adult membership $545; Family $1,500 for 2 adults & 2 kids under 12, additional adult $500, additional kids $250)

There are private suites with jacuzzis, a VIP Pool, three connecting family pools and the beach to choose from; with a spa, hotel and cabanas. The on site restaurant serves wood oven pizzas, sea food and Lebanese cuisine. Small shops stock inflatables, beachwear and sunscreens should you forget yours. They also have Wellness weeks throughout the year that include holistic health, spa treatments and a detox menu.

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The VIP Pool is great for couples and friends, if you don’t like the sand or want to be bothered by families, (Weekdays Pool beds $60 w/ bottle rose, weekends $100 w/ bottle rose) however they tend to play loud music around the pool on the weekends, and are also famous for their Sunday pool parties.

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The golden beach is a great spot for all with free sun loungers or VIP Beach Beds available for rent (weekdays $38, weekends $50) they are comfortable, with pillows, and are spacious enough for four people to lounge on or for a couple sunbathing. Service is always close at hand if you wish to order a bottle of rose or have a healthy salad.

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The sand is sifted every morning to clean out any rubbish or small stones, and is just perfect for the kids to build sand castles or turtles with; it is the only stretch of sand in Lebanon that is clean and sandy.

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Life guards patrol the beach and the family pools, which is especially comforting when you have little ones around, however you must always be vigilant, the currents along Lebanon’s coast can get strong. The sea however on Sunday was calm and clear, albeit being a little cold, but the kids didn’t care, nor did many bathers that were enjoying a refreshing swim.

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I always have a great time at Edde Sands, and now finally with great weather in April, during their off season it is the perfect place to go to relax, catch some sun, and eat great food; oh and to entertain the kiddies also!

Edde Sands Hotel & Wellness Resort, Byblos, Lebanon. Tel: +961 9 54 66 66 / +961 3 99 76 88

By @NaomiSargeant