Theme Week Beirut – The Phoenicia

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Hotels, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  4 minutes

© flickr.com - Hussein Abdallah/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Hussein Abdallah/cc-by-2.0

The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut is a historic 5-star luxury hotel situated in the Minet El Hosn neighborhood of Beirut in Lebanon. It is located on Rue Fakhreddine near the Corniche Beirut promenade and walking-distance from Beirut Central District, and a few kilometers from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport. The Phoenicia is part of the worldwide InterContinental Hotels Group, but it dropped the actual use of the chain name in 2012. The Phoenicia was built by the Lebanese businessman Najib Salha, who founded La Société des Grands Hotels du Liban (SGHL) in 1953. It was designed by the noted American architect Edward Durell Stone, working with American architect Joseph Salerno and local architects Ferdinand Dagher and Rodolphe Elias. The design showed Levantine influences in its high ceilings, sweeping staircases and palatial pillars. The hotel’s interiors and furniture were contracted to the New York firm of William M. Ballard and were designed by Neal Prince, who was responsible for the interior decoration of most Intercontinental Hotels at the time.

The hotel opened to the public on December 23, 1961 as the Phoenicia Intercontinental, managed by the American Intercontinental Hotels chain. However its grand opening was not celebrated until three months later, on March 31, 1962, when Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony and actress Dorothy Dandridge sang in the Le Paon Rouge nightclub as the guest of honor. The hotel had 310 rooms and suites, shops, restaurants and a swimming pool with a bar. The hotel was an immediate success, operating at near constant 100 percent occupancy. As a result, plans were made to expand it. An adjacent property was purchased by SGHL in 1963. Local architect Joseph Philippe Karam was commissioned to design a 22-story, 270-room addition, which opened on April 19, 1968, increasing the number of rooms at the hotel to 600.

© flickr.com - Hussein Abdallah/cc-by-2.0 St Georges Bay Towers and Marina - Phoenicia Hotel buildings to the right © Wusel007/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Wusel007/cc-by-sa-3.0
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St Georges Bay Towers and Marina - Phoenicia Hotel buildings to the right © Wusel007/cc-by-sa-3.0
The hotel became a battlefield in the Lebanese Civil War in 1975-6, during fighting known as the Battle of the Hotels, and was left a burnt-out ruin. It was abandoned for nearly twenty-five years until the late 1990s, when Mazen and Marwan Salha, Najib Salha’s sons and members of the board of directors of SGHL, decided to restore the hotel.

It reopened on March 22, 2000 as the Phoenicia InterContinental Beirut, following a $100 million restoration project to designs by architects Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum. In July 2003, a third tower, the Phoenicia Residence, consisting of 35 luxury apartments, was opened. The Phoenicia was damaged in the 2005 bombing assassination of Rafik Hariri in the street out front and closed for three months for repairs. In 2011, it underwent a US $50 million revamp that coincided with its 50-year anniversary. In 2012 it was rebranded as the Phoenicia Hotel Beirut, though it is still a part of the InterContinental chain. When the Phoenicia celebrated its 50th anniversary, it revealed a collection of contemporary art, featuring works of Howard Hodgkin, Sam Francis, Jan Dibbets, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Morrison and a Mud Circle by Richard Long.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Phoenicia Hotel and Wikipedia Phoenicia Hotel (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.



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