Summer, Sea, and Eddésands
Utter the words “Byblos” and “beach resort” in one sentence, and you’re likely to elicit “Eddésands” in the yield. The sprawling property, comprising a number of swimming pools, sandy shores, a health and wellness spa, and even lodging for those looking to stay the night, might be known for its summer beach parties and candlelit dinners next to the lapping waters. But in actuality, Eddésands is a calm oasis situated a mere 600 meters from the archaeological sites of Byblos, its souks and the Crusader castle.
|The sandy shores of Eddésands in Byblos|
Against such an historic backdrop, you’ll be awe-inspired to learn that thousands of years before you, this is where Cronus built the first city of Phoenicia, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the world. This is where an important military base in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was erected, which would later form part of the Ottoman Empire. But today this is where you’ll be basking in pristine waters under the hot blaze of the Mediterranean sun.
We arrived to Eddésands on a Saturday morning in mid-June, just a quarter past 10, and the resort was gently pulsating with other early birds seeking solitude en soleil.
|Eddésands resort is an oasis of greenery|
There are three bodies of water near which you can install yourself. A trio of cascading pools toward the center of the resort is popular among families and provides a beautiful vista of the sea. You could also descend to the source and let your toes dig into the silky quartz before taking a plunge in the undulating Mediterranean. That’s what we did last year, on our first visit to the resort.
But this time, we tucked into the VIP pool, seen first as you traverse the wooden bridge leading away from the entrance. Midweek, admission fees, which include a queen-sized mattress decked with plush pillows poised front-row around the round pool, are LBP 45,000. Weekends, it doubles to some LBP 100,000. Compounded to the resort entry fees for adults of LBP 45,000 on weekends, Eddésands can quickly get pricey. But in Lebanon, that’s the cost of exclusivity.
|The VIP pool at Eddésands houses 42 mattresses|
Slather on sunblock, pull shades over your eyes, and curl up with a book. A cocktail from the bar will elevate the euphoria. Then, just sit still as you watch the sun make its deliberate journey west.
When hunger sets in, leave behind your belongings and find your way to the Lebanese restaurant La Pêche du Jour. You really can't beat this seaside location, floating above the sands of the Byblos shoreline. Service, led by a troop of local young men fit to be lifeguards, is attentive and correct.
Among the opening numbers, opt for the tangy fattouch; adequately lemony stuffed grape leaves; and creamy hummus topped with cubes of beef, pine nuts, and jalapeno.
|Creamy hummus topped with cubes of beef, pine nuts and jalapeno|
In the seafood department, there's a nice blend of calamari and chorizo lightly dressed with parsley and lemon. I enjoyed the grilled scallops rubbed in a slightly piquant red pepper sauce, accompanied by strips of crisp bacon. Don't miss the crunchy breaded calamari, which pair finely with cubes of fried potato tossed in garlic and cilantro. Forego the unnaturally yellowed fries -- poor choice of frying oil, perhaps?
|Calamari with chorizo|
|Scallops with beetroot leaves|
Grilled taouk and beef are succulent and beautifully seasoned, whereas the kafta spears seem dotted with excess fat and threaten to be a sure source of indigestion.
|Grilled meats: kafta, marinated chicken (taouk), and beef|
Dessert is a real hit, namely the assemble-your-own ice cream goblet filled with as many scoops of ice cream as you elect, topped with whipped cream and wafer fingers.
|A giant bowl of ice cream!|
While unfortunate that La Pêche du Jour doesn’t offer a seafood formula replete with grilled and fried fish as mains, cherry-picking from the mezza menu will more than do.
After lunch, you could pop in to the Tropical Spa, boasting an extensive selection of treatments from the classical to Ayurvedic, the latter of which figures among the world’s oldest holistic healing systems and is delivered by therapists hailing from the southernmost state of India, Kerala. Otherwise, some pampering at the salon doesn’t sound too bad, nor does an outdoor yoga class followed by a hand scrub.
|Spa & Wellness Center|
Frankly, we made a beeline back to our VIP sanctuary where we lingered till sunset. A day in the sun equates to the perfect summer pastime, and that’s precisely what we did.
Lugging our beach bag back to the car, we looked up at the cliff where Byblos perches in all its timeless grandeur. From either vantage point, the view is majestic. But the whispers of the sea are better heard from the shores of Eddésands.
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