30 Aug 2018
Bkassine, Lebanon
Sustainable Tourism

Just 70 kilometers outside bustling Beirut, there is a beautiful pine forest called Bkassine, known to be the largest green space in Lebanon. Not only can visitors hike and bike through the woods, they can explore traditional villages, historic sites and old bridges and mills. There is also a resort that manages to blend into the natural landscape, an eco-lodge that incorporates old trees in its design and teaches people about the value of nature. This place is called La Maison de la Forêt.

When you first set eyes on La Maison de la Forêt, it appears to be part of the forest. Wooden bungalows with red tile roofs are scattered throughout the trees; an al fresco restaurant serves traditional Lebanese food. People mix and mingle throughout the grounds, sipping coffee on the terrace as the sun sparkles through the trees, or walking along the winding stone paths. It’s a place to relax and unwind.

In just the few short years since its inception, La Maison de la Forêt has become a popular destination, with many repeat guests.

How La Maison de la Forêt began:

The idea for La Maison de la Forêt was conceived in 2013 through a private-public partnership, with the goal of promoting sustainable tourism in the Jezzine area of Lebanon. The resort opened with only four bungalows, a small communal area, and a restaurant. In 2014, a new management took over the ecolodge, and now, there are 25 bungalows, 5 rooms available in a lodge, a conference center with two meeting rooms, and a calendar full of outdoor activities.

“Our resort played a key role in boosting the region through well-thought and planned responsible tourism,” says La Maison de la Forêt’s Sales and Marketing Manager Eliana El Asmar. “Our objective is to introduce a novel touristic experience while providing job opportunities to people in the region.”

When people visit the eco-lodge, they can enjoy activities like hiking, mountain biking, tree and wall climbing. There’s a treetop adventure park, where people can jump from one platform to the next, from tree to tree. They can rappel down waterfalls and climb up and down a 14-meter tower.

“One of the byproducts of La Maison de la Forêt is to increase awareness among travelers about ecological conservation,” says El Asmar. “All of the offered activities revolve around nature.”

How the resort incorporates sustainability into its design:

This ecolodge in Lebanon takes great care to preserve and protect its surroundings. All of the bungalows are made with imported wood, so none was taken from the Bkassine forest. Buildings at La Maison de la Forêt were built to incorporate existing pine trees, built around them in a way not to harm the trees.

“Moreover, we have a recycling sanitary system, an electrical chargeable Polaris car for guests and luggage, all paper products used in our resort are recycled,” says El Asmar. “We also use a waste recycling system with bin bags with different colors to sort the waste.”

The lodge also employs people from the region in hopes to restore their pride in the area, as well as training opportunities for students.

“One of our most valued objectives is to preserve and shed light on the biodiversity and heritage of the region,” says El Asmar.

La Maison de la Forêt also highlights traditional Lebanese food in its restaurant, Beit El Gabeh, which serves a variety of local products and dishes. You’ll find open buffets served every Sunday for lunch, as well as exquisite Lebanese mezza and delicious homemade desserts.

What guests say about La Maison de la Forêt:

So far, visitors have enjoyed the peaceful getaway in the Bkassine pine forest in Lebanon. On its Facebook page, the resort receives nothing but accolades from its guests.

One guest wrote: “Amazing place! The Bungalow was very clean and tidy. The staff is super friendly and very attentive. The food is great too. The kids had a lot of fun with the activities, and there’s a very nice hiking path. Green all around. Luxury in a beautiful Lebanese mountain setting. We loved it so much we decided to extend our stay for one more night. Highly recommended.”

And another guest this: “The perfect getaway in nature, would come back again and again, thank you Maison de la Forêt for the amazing experience… The bungalows are very clean and practical, a professional’s work. The food is delicious and affordable. The service is excellent. The receptionist is very kind and helpful. Came as couple but highly recommended even for families with kids.”

So far, thousands have visited La Maison de la Forêt to relax, unwind and find center in their lives.

The lodge’s hopes for the future:

Ecolodges like La Maison de la Forêt hope one day that protecting green spaces becomes a culture shift, rather than just a passing trend.

Slowly, over time, El Asmar says there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of people interested in the environment and ecotourism, and there are steps the government should take to further protect Lebanon’s natural spaces.

“The government should implement laws and regulations to protect ecotourism in Lebanon, such as protecting natural resources, encouraging local sustainable development and food production, managing natural resources, and preserving traditions and cultural heritage all over Lebanon,” she says.

She also thinks the Lebanese government should support organizations spreading environmental awareness to both the people of Lebanon and the world.

“I believe the state should control activities harming the environment, such as crushers and quarries that deform nature in our country,” says El Asmar.

Ecolodges are a great step in helping illuminate environmental preservation in Lebanon, where guests can coexist with pine trees and recover from city life in the depths of the forest. And maybe, someday, even more green spaces will be protected and enjoyed for years to come.

 

You can learn more about La Maison de la Forêt through their Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of La Maison de la Forêt.

La Maison de la Forêt Sustainable Tourism
Follow us: