From the capital Beirut, eyes cannot help but gaze at the high white mountains majestically dominating the sea and scraping the sky with their dazzling pearls.
Lebanon, "the land of milk and honey" is also the land of the white gold.
Indeed the word " Lebanon" comes from " Lebnana" meaning "white" in Aramaic, and
evokes the image of the mountains covered with snow from December to April.
The story of Mzaar came from the snow-covered Mount Lebanon in the 1950s.
Sheikh Salim El Khazen owned all the land of Ouyoun El Siman and dreamed of
building a modern resort, an exceptional, authentic ski village in the region. His pioneering spirit is evident in the words of his wife Mrs. Margo
El-Khazen, " He was a man who followed his dreams to the very end."
Mrs. El-Khazen remembers that in 1937, Sheikh Salim began talking about a big
ski project that could compete with the greatest of European ski resorts. However, at that time, Sheikh Salim was busy working as a lawyer and deputy.
Nevertheless, and much to the gratitude of today's tourism and winter sports
companies, the ski resort idea continued to hunt him.
After a thorough examination of the snow quality, Sheikh Salim brought
European experts to the slopes and and they were amazed by the immensity and
beauty of the site, and by the endless-snow covered landscape of Mzaar Mountain
and its view of Beirut and the Mediterranean.
The fantastic site, only 53 kilometers from Beirut, had been waiting to be
discovered. In less than one hour, mountain enthusiasts could
reach the snow-packed and sunny peaks in one of Lebanon's most beautiful areas.
In the 1950s, Sheikh Salim developed the roadways and telephone lines in the
area. He then sold a few pieces of land at low prices encouraging people to reside
in the region.
Among the first investors were Sami and Nicolas Jammal, Dr. Emile Riachi,
Naoum Khalife, Roger Salibi, Fehme Caragulla, Robert Nassif and Dr. Georges
THE EXPANSION OF MZAAR DURING 1960s
In 1960, Sami and Nicolas Jammal gained approval from Sheikh Salim El-Khazen
to install the first chairlift imported from Switzerland, on the ski hill.
At the same time, they build the first four chalets in the region, within the
old town, neat what is now the InterContinental Mountain Resort and Spa Mzaar
Hotel. Later they joined Dr. Riachi in buying 160,000 square meters of property
from Prosper Gay-Para for further expansion of the chalet area.
In 1962, Sheikh Salim met Joseph El-Khoury at the Al-Ahli Bank, Joseph was a
young employee with a drive and spirit that appealed to Sheikh Salim.
Consequently, he gave him shares in Faraya-Mzaar and directed him to gather
In 1963, the Faraya-Mzaar Tourism and Winter Sports Company was launched with
Sheikh Salim El-Khazen as the principal shareholder. During the same year, the Faraya-Mzaar Hotel opened its door with great pomp
Like a jewel set in the mountain tops, Mzaar offers a peaceful space far from
the hectic rhythm of Beirut and the scorching heat of the coast.
Its privileged location and its altitude of 1,850 meters allows it to dominate
over small verdant villages in the surrounding hills.
There is no doubt that Mzaar is the top winter sports center in the Middle
It has everything needed to provide comfort, sports and luxurious living.
The restaurant bar Igloo, specializing in Oriental dishes and French cuisine,
and the Interdit nightclub are the ideal sports for the Lebanese and
International Jet-Setters to meet.
The resort rapidly became the trendiest tourism destination in the country,
receiving International public figures and making "Ouyoun El Siman" a "must-visit" place for winter sports, and a holiday resort for a year-round
The resort continued to widen its scope throughout the 1960s. Between 1960
and 1966, 24 chalets were built by the Jammal family to accommodate the growing
numbers of skiers.
Around 1965, the Jabal El Dib ski lift opened.
In 1966, Naoum Khalife began building the Boule de Neige Hotel followed by the
Avalanche in 1970 and the Auberge Suisse in 1973.
In 1967, Joseph Abdo Khoury became the Chairman and Managing Director of the
Faraya-Mzaar Tourism and Winter Sports Company.
He had the vision, the strategic planning and dedication to make the
Faraya-Mzaar project the premier winter sports resort in the region.
He headed the company until 1982.
Throughout this period, he ensured the resort had the required equipment and
updated the lifts and snow-grooming machines.
Also during this period, the resort grew to become a popular place for golden
youth, in summer as well as in winter.
Nightclubs were opened, organizing theme nights and special events for young
The region continued to expand from 1968 to 1975 by encouraging the purchase
of lands and construction of chalets.
This success continued to gather a small population to Faraya-Mzaar and led to
the purchasing of the Audi banking group purchasing a large amount of property and
urbanizing the area.
A housing plan was established, Faqra was about to emerge.
Continuing to grow in strength, the Faraya-Mzaar Company asked a well-known
Swiss company Motor-Columbus, specializing in the construction of ski resorts,
to carry out a study on the expansion of the ski resort and its accommodation
facilities and infrastructure. The study cost 800,000 Swiss Francs.
Unfortunately, war broke out before the study could be realized. Even so,
more ski lifts were brought out from abroad.
In fact, the ski lifts arrived in Tripoli as the war was raging and reached
Ouyoun el Siman through great effort and risk. Soon after, the Faraya-Mzaar Hotel was stolen and then occupied by militias
for several years.
THE LATE 1970s - MORE EXPANSION
In the same context, Mr. Rizk Rizk the present-day Chairman and Managing
Director of Faraya-Mzaar Tourism and Sport Company explains, the new
shareholders realized that building an entirely new hotel would be better than
renovating the severely damaged old one.
In 1992, the investors decided to create a luxury hotel complex at the
foothill of the slopes. Built on Keserwan heights at an altitude of 1,850 meters, the Hotel enjoys is
location at the hear of the largest ski resort in the region.
In 2000, the intercontinental Worldwide hotel was chosen to manage the
much-loved Hotel. Inspired by the world's most beautiful ski destinations, the hotel is nestled
in the mountains blending into the natural surroundings and offering direct
access to the slopes.
It combines the traditional design of Alpine chalets with wood, stone,
spacious balconies and vast views of the mountain ranges and hills. Furthermore, the interior was beautifully designed by Maurice Savinel and
Roland Le Brevillon of Associate Interior Design.
In the 1990s, the ski resort truly began to expand making Faraya-Mzaar S.A.L.
the largest ski resort in the country.
Security, size and quality were cornerstones of the expansion policy.
The slopes were planned to head north, protecting the snow from the sun. runs
ware developed for all levels of skiers. The snow is groomed throughout the season by a team of snowplows bought to
meet the expanding slope's needs.
In 1993, a three-seat chairlift was installed at Mzaar followed by ski tows
at Refuge and School. More chairlifts followed to bring the resort's to 19.
In 1999, the Wardeh domain was established bringing the slope surface size to
80 kilometers. The Wardeh equipment was installed by French experts meeting European safety
standards. Furthermore, the scope of leisure activities increased with the development
of the secure and adapted children's garden and other playgrounds.
INTERNATIONALIZATION OF MZAAR
The outstanding success of winter sports and skiing in particular, was the
key factor in the internationalization and modernization of the ski resort.
Safety being a priority, just as in Europe, a French center for safety
studies has issued a report of compliance in this area and French experts are
always on hand to oversee machinery and installations.
Mzaar is an exceptional place to ski: it has 19 ski lifts, snow-grooming
equipment for the steepest slopes, snowplows, ski schools, Red Cross qualified
patrolmen, medically equipped rescue teams and ambulances.
Many events chose Mzaar and its highly infrastructure as their location such
as: the International Mountain Rally in the fall, the Half Marathon in the
summer, and the Fire Dragon and Music Ski Night in the winter.
The five-star luxury hotel meets the highest standards and guarantees a high
level quality/price ratio.