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Faraya-Mzaar Ski Resort (Kfardebian, Lebanon)

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Ski resort in Lebanon.

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      18.05.2012 11:31
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      Skiing in Lebanon!

      == Introduction ==

      Winter might be a boring season for some, a season of hibernation for others. However, winter in Lebanon is another story!

      Spring is around the corner and the weather is getting warmer and warmer by the day. Lebanon, as Mediterranean country, has already embraced spring. However, a few countries still have the cold weather.

      You might be surprised to learn that Lebanon is a unique country temperature wise. While the Capital city Beirut is sunny with temperatures averaging at around 20°C, the mountain areas still suffer from very cold temperatures as well as a very thick coats of snow! Yes, the skiing season in Lebanon is similar in length to that of the Alps stretching over a period of 5 months. Skiing resorts still open until the beginning of May as the snow takes a very long time to melt that's what makes skiing in spring such a wonderful and unique experience.


      == Why did I choose skiing resort? ==

      Once again, I wanted to show my kids the best of their home country, unfortunately like so many British people they have a fairly vague idea about Lebanon in general which is really a shame. Lebanon is such a colourful country which is overlooked by many tourists and the government is to blame for this due to the fact that it hardly concentrates on the idea of promoting tourism in Lebanon.


      Anyway, I decided to take them one of the most popular ski resorts in the Middle East which is Faraya. I went there when I was a kid but to be honest my visit there was for free. However, in order to enjoy your stay you will need to pay A LOT of money for ski equipment, skidoos etc. I really hope that my kids appreciate the amount of money I paid for them as I could have easily paid for a trip to Disney Land. What triggered me to do so was the thought of changing their attitude toward the country.

      == Faraya-Mzaar Ski Resort, Kfardebian (Location) ==

      After the war, the location has changed a lot for the better with high quality equipment, services and accommodations becoming available at different rates to suit all kinds of needs.

      There are so many skiing resorts in Faraya but I'm only going to mention the one that we went to,The Mzaar Ski Resort. If I were to write about each and every resort, I would end up writing a 300 page book about each and every location and resort!


      Mzaar Ouyoune El simane in Kfardebian resort is located in Faraya. Faraya is a village that is Located in the heart of Mount Lebanon and a part of bigger village (Kfardebian) which is one of the most popular and most visited ski resorts in Lebanon. Faraya has an elevation of 1,891 meters with the highest run starting at 2,463 meters so if you are not afraid of the heights you might enjoy an amazing view of the Bekaa valley with the most greenest ever view. You can also see Mount Hermon covered with snow or enjoy the panoramic views of Laqlouq and the Cedars spread in front of your eyes.

      You can watch the coastal towns and even Beirut the capital might be seen on a clear day too. I can guarantee you that you will never forget how charming the views are!



      == How to get there ==


      Mzaar Ski Resort is 46 km away from Beirut, which will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes by car depending on the weather and traffic of course. I think the best way to get there is by car and again you can hire a chauffeur to get you there while you enjoy the breathtaking views on the way to Mzaar. You won't be bored on your way there, in fact you will enjoy every moment of it. The road is a bit narrow and when passing by the mountain way, you instantly feel the change in weather so don't forget to bring some heavy clothes with you.

      While passing by you will see lots of cedar trees, high mountains and hills. I was speechless and couldn't believe that such a small country has such beauty!

      The trip took us around 2 hours because we stopped for breakfast and we took some photos.

      When we reached there and my first impression was WOW! The whole area was covered with brilliantly white snow. I'm sure all of you have seen the snow before but I can honestly say that the view was amazing and the weather was lovely too. To be honest it is not always like this as sometimes it storms and heavy snow occurs however, during the months of February-May the weather wonderful.



      == Accommodation ==


      You can spend the whole day in Faraya and go back to Beirut in the same day. However, you need more than 2 days to fully explore the place and enjoy the experience. So if you decide to stay for that period of time, you will be spoilt for choices. There are 5 stars hotels to choose from and for bigger families with lower budgets you can always choose a chalet.


      == MzaarVille Chalet ==

      MzaarVille is one of newest additions to the Mzzar resort-Faraya. The newly built chalets are located on the base of the ski slopes.

      MzzarVille Chalets has 6 main floors and each floor has 10 rooms. The rooms are different in size and prices. These chalets are self -catering but of course there are bars and restaurants to attend to if you don't feel like doing the job yourself. There is also room service; if you are too cold and don't want to get out of your room.

      The room sizes vary from 1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms and 3 bedrooms. Also, there is a studio suit and family suites for four or six people and all these rooms are fitted with the usual amenities plus a kitchenette and a traditional fireplace except for the suites. Bigger families can order an extra bed but that comes at an extra fee of course.


      You can expect to pay between $136-$200 (£70-£120) per night; depending on the size of the room. The prices are a bit expensive but they are still a lot cheaper than 5 star hotel!

      == Our room ==


      We booked a 2 Bedroom Chalet; one bedroom had 1 large bed with the second one having 2 single beds. This was also accompanied by a living area with a sofa, a fireplace, a kitchenette and 2 bathrooms. The suit for 4 people may be bigger but there is no kitchenette or a fireplace so I thought this one is more convenient. It was very warm and cosy, the fireplace in the room gave us the warmth and the feel of home; however there weren't enough logs so ordered some at some extra cost.

      The furniture is very modern but simple and it is all made of beautiful alpine wood.

      The bathroom was neat and clean but you must get your own towels, shampoo and soap. The kitchenette was fully equipped and clean. There is a free internet access which was excellent news for my kids lol


      I can say that we were happy with the room and it's amenities



      == Activities and amusements ==


      The sixth floor was specially created for family and friends to meet up where you can see the amazing views of the resort which are breath-taking. It has been provided with an open space and extremely huge glass windows so you can enjoy a panoramic view that you won't get a chance to see anywhere else.

      Family and friends usually meet there to chat and have refreshments while the small ones play with video games or watch movies or simply play with other kids. If you are interested in Ping-Pong there is a Ping-Pong table up there to play.

      My boys are I enjoyed being on the top floor, I had my coffee made some new friends while my older kids surfed the net, while my youngest brought his toy car with him and played with other kids!

      The other floors contain the rooms while the ground floor is for the reception and the main Mzzar restaurant and pub.

      The parking is free.



      == Main attractions ==


      The village's main attractions are at a walking distance from your chalet such as restaurants, bars, shops and leisure facilities. You don't even need transportation to get to the heart of the village and I'm sure that you will enjoy the walk to the village centre.

      At the village centre you can find many restaurants, bars and cafés. You can enjoy a nice warm meal where it's Lebanese cuisine of if you prefer an American fast food there are many restaurants available. There are also kids' meals if you have fussy kids just like mine. There are many sport shops and there are many other shops to explore.


      == Now to the main point SKIING! ==

      == Mzaar weather ==


      As a mentioned before, Mzzar has a base altitude of 2096 meters so expect cold weather. The temperatures are between 12°C max and -5°C. It is the coldest between January and February and this is mainly due to some snow storms that occur.


      == Equipment ==

      You can buy or simply rent the necessary ski equipment from Faraya village. Some of these shops can be located in the Mzaar resort itself. There are well over 30 different shops to buy or rent your equipment. We hired ours from Rony's ski as we found that it was one of the best shops there and it was very close to our accommodation too. Rental rates range from $8 to $12 per day for a complete ski or snowboard set.



      == Skiing lessons ==


      If you are an expert skier you don't need to read this but if you are a bit like me maybe you should read it
      I have to admit that I don't ski and I never skied in my life so it was such a shame that I never had the opportunity to do so. However, I booked a quick lesson for me and the kids. I booked a whole day session, normally it's at a very expensive price of nearly $200 per person but I had a discounted price for $350 for 4 people including my 6 year old child.


      As a non-skier I must say that I enjoyed the lesson and so did my kids. I was scared at first but the teacher was very experienced and gave me instant confidence so I have to say it was money well spent!

      == Snowmobile ( skidoo) , What is Skidoo? ==


      A skidoo is like a car on ice, well it's the same like driving a car but it's a lot easier and simpler. My boys insisted on trying one of these, sadly I don't drive and to be honest, I was scared after seeing some people drive them pretty quickly and in addition to doing some stunts. I asked for an assistant and luckily help was there.

      I was offered help from a specialist who offered to help us by either teaching us how to operate skidoo or take us on tour around the Mzaar resort. I chose the simplest and most risk free one which was a nice and secure tour around the resort. I can't explain how it feels but I was very excited, it was one of the most memorable experiences I had.

      My eldest preferred to drive the skidoo by himself with a little assistance from the expert.


      How much will it cost? It will cost around $40 but try to negotiate the price with the person who is renting you the skidoo, you are more likely to get a discount.


      == Want a break from skiing? ==

      If you want a break from skiing you can enjoy a nice day in one of the best spas in Lebanon where you can be pampered, for a price of course!

      For nature lovers, you might want to visit one of the spectacular landmarks made by nature. It's a natural bridge formed by the hands nature, they call it the natural bridge of Kfardebian. It was moulded by wind and water erosion and it's around 30 meters long. Another enchanting thing to see is the ruins of a Phoenician temple and a Roman tower. You would definitely enjoy this short but memorable visit.



      == Souvenir shop ==


      A small Souvenir shop is located in Mzzar for tourists and visitors. You can buy many small ornaments in order to remember your stay.

      == Conclusion ==

      It is one of the best Skiing resorts in the Middle East and it is definitely recommended you visit it!

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