The town of Bhamdoun is located in the middle of Mount Lebanon on the Beirut - Damascus Highway about 20 Km east of Beirut.
 

The town of Bhamdoun is located in the middle of Mount Lebanon on the Beirut - Damascus highway about 20 Km east of Beirut. Since the war ended in 1990. Bhamdoun has been undergoing a major rebirth.

A large majority of its citizens, which used to number approximately 5,000 inhabitants, have returned.  The return was motivated by primarily two initiatives: firstly, a government-led assistance program that financed the renovation of the facades of the existing homes and the reconstruction of destroyed homes and secondly, a number of private initiatives led by Lebanese, Arab and International Non-governmental organizations.

The rebirth was especially noticeable over the last couple of years, largely attributed to the opening of the Sheraton Bhamdoun.  This multi-million dollar project signaled the commitment of Nasser al Kharafi to Bhamdoun and was a vote of confidence in its burgeoning tourism industry.  In addition to the Sheraton Hotel, a number of international operators have opened in Bhamdoun and familiar names such as Hardees, KFC, Starbucks and Hooters currently once again adorn Bhamdoun Mhatta¡¯s High Street.  Old Familiar names such as the Carlton Hotel, Olivo¡¯s Pizzeria the renamed Arlequin (Full Moon), and Bhamdoun¡¯s most famous restaurant serving bird delicatessen ¡Caf¦ Halim¡ are still thriving and serving food to thousands of their loyal clientele!!!

Bhamdoun as a tourist destination rose to fame at the end of the nineteenth century with the arrival of the train to this agricultural town.  In fact, the French, which financed the railroad to Damascus, chose Bhamdoun as a major stop and they built the town¡¯s famous railroad station which still stands to this day.  Little by little, wealthy Beiruty families started migrating during the summer months to this mountain resort and slowly but surely established themselves in Bhamdoun.  Bhamdoun started to provide the ¡cure to all pulmonary ailments¡, as testified by the much publicized healing of the son of the French ambassador to Syria, who suffered from tuberculosis.  Bhamdoun¡¯s dry, and crisp summer climate nurtured the wealthy, Lebanese and arabs alike.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Bhamdoun was chosen as the summer residence for many ottoman rulers.  Stories abound of romantic encounters of even the harshest ones, who fell under the Bhamdouni spell.  The legendary ruler mohammad ¡the massacrer of the arabs¡ even sojourned at the famous Hotel Belle-Vue (still owned to this day by the Mjaes family).  After the Ottomans came the French, and General Charles De Gaulle chose his summer residence at the famous ¡Hotel du Chqif¡) located at the southern edge of Bhamdoun Village.  At the end of the 40s, the Ambassador Hotel, a five-star hotel was built in Bhamdoun Mhatta by the Arida family.  It is there that Lebanon¡¯s first Beauty Pageantry venue was held. 

By the mid 50s to the early 60s Bhamdoun became the summer hub to the Lebanese bourgeoisie: The Debbas, Minkara, Boutros, Khattar, Soubra, Baydoun, Bayhum, and Sursock families all chose it as a summer resort.  Together, they rubbed shoulders with established families from Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.  The glory and fame of Bhamdoun spread as far out as Egypt and Bhamdoun had its fair share of famous Egyptian personalities and actresses who enjoyed summer festivities at the famous Heliopolis Hotel.

By the beginning of the 70s, there were 34 hotels in Bhamdoun, with a total of approximately 5,400 beds.  Bhamdoun became Lebanon¡¯s main summer tourist destination and constituted 70% of the tourism GDP of Lebanon.  The main commercial street in Bhamdoun Mhatta boasted incredible success and commanded prices as high as Hamra Street in Beirut. 

The people of Bhamdoun suffered along with their Lebanese brethren as a result of the civil war.  The difference, however, was in terms of magnitude. Because of its strategic location overlooking the city of Beirut, the town of Bhamdoun witnessed several major battles despite the peaceful nature of its occupants. In 1976, the town witnessed a major confrontation between the Syrian Army and the Palestinians on its soil. The town as a result received the brunt of the destruction during the Syrian move towards the capital. Later in 1982, a major battle occurred between the Israelis and the Syrians for the control of the town during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. As a result, several Bhamdounis lost their lives. Following the invasion, there were several minor scrimmages between the Christian Lebanese forces and the Druze militias occupying the outskirts of the town. The skirmishes developed into a major conflict soon after the withdrawal of the Israelis and the town¡¯s residents fled Bhamdoun for 10 long years before they were allowed back.

Almost ten years now since their return, Bhamdoun is rising from the ashes.  Just like the historic Phoenix did, every thousand years, on top of the snow-crested Lebanese mountains.  Bhamdoun welcomes all of you to be part of, and accompany this rebirth!!!!