Like every other Lebanese, I’ve had my fair share of visits
You know the run-down. Saunter through the pebble-paved souks,
electing to either fend off or engage with the vulture-like vendors. Explore
the Crusader castle on the crest of the hill. Continue your stroll down to the
seaside, where a small bay filled with fishermen’s boats is situated beneath a
row of typical Lebanese seafood restaurants.
|Byblos Sur Mer sits right on Byblos bay (the "Mina" area")|
Round the bend and climb the slope
past a beach resort and a pizzeria that in days past proudly sported the emblem
of Pizza Hut. Come full circle and arrive to a plaza brimming with outdoor cafés,
restaurants, and pubs. There’s a wax museum a few steps away, shops displaying fossilized fish, as
well as a high concentration of mosques and churches in the nearby
For me, it has always been the same touristic hub, the same
little knickknacks and the same slate of eateries. You can imagine that the repetition spawns monotony, to the extent that I recently found myself reluctant
whenever a trip to Byblos came up. Been there and done that, I’d think. Spare
me the traffic!
Until last weekend, when for the first time, I discovered
Byblos Sur Mer. The 40-suite hotel perches on prime property overlooking the
Mediterranean. Just below, it has its own cove housing seafood restaurant Dar el Azrak and shisha café Marsa. Directly
adjacent is the Sophia Bay terrace outfitted with lounge chairs and sunbeds; a
children’s pool; and an open sea pool naturally protected by rocks.
|Dar el Azrak Lebanese seafood restaurant at Byblos Sur Mer|
|Café Marsa sits right on the Mediterranean waters at Byblos Sur Mer|
Hotel guests gain complimentary access to the chaises-longues
and beach, but non-guests, too, can enter for a 25,000 LL cover charge valid
toward café food. That's unheard of, next to the exorbitant admission fees charged
at other resorts across Lebanon.
|Sophia Bay accommodates both hotel guests and non-guests|
So how come I never noticed Byblos Sur Mer? Talk about
keeping a low profile! Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been passing by the resort on every
excursion to the ancient port city, and yet never has it attracted my attention.
Which is a good thing. Indeed, the boutique hotel blends in seamlessly
with its environs, and even the cove strikes you as at once secluded and
central. There really is no better view of the sea, no claim to the deep blue
waters more entrenched than Byblos Sur Mer’s.
On our visit, we were ushered to a small land-docked boat near Café Marsa transformed
into a canopied bar. Sangria and munchies eased us into a euphoric languor before
we were led to a mid-sized ferry for a tour of Byblos bay.
|High chairs at the land-docked boat-bar|
Alighting back on dry land, we were steered to Dar el Azrak,
cleverly architected to resemble a boat with maximum exposure to both sunlight and the sea
breeze. An array of delicious mezza began its gradual descent upon
our table, from the quintessential hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh and
fattouch to the seafood-intensive dishes of raw fish, octopus Provencale, shrimp in salsa, fried fish and grilled prawns. Dessert rounded out the meal, with a
tray of mixed Oriental delights and mafroukeh dissected into scoops of caramelized
semolina and clotted cream (kashta).
|Clockwise from left: chanklich, hummus, and baba ghannouj|
|Fried cheese rolls|
|Shrimps in a tomato sauce|
|Fish baked in a soy bath|
Service could not have been more doting (special shout-out
to Maroun), as staff were at our beck and call refilling drinks, replacing dirtied plates, and replenishing any dish we requested.
So whether you’re a foreign tourist looking to languish
about the world’s oldest continuously-inhabited city, as Byblos is heralded, or
whether you’re a local seeking out a tranquil edge of sea, Byblos Sur Mer will charm
your every fancy.
Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit.
Byblos Sur Mer
+961 9 548 000
Beautifully written Danielle as always ! :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Christina! I apologize I didn't see this comment earlier.Delete