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'Choose your mood:' Sunbathers of all generations enjoy Oceana beach resort.

Byline: Alexander Besant

Summary: If MTV's "Grind" were to be shot in Lebanon, surely it would be filmed on a Sunday at Oceana. The sprawling beach resort hosts a pool party which will without a doubt become a summer classic. If the sea is ritual during the summer in Lebanon, Oceana has quickly become one of the country's most important temples.

Editor's Note: The following is part of a series of articles that focus on the revival of the Lebanese social, cultural, and entertainment scenes - in all their aspects - during the summer tourism season.

DAMOUR: If MTV's "Grind" were to be shot in Lebanon, surely it would be filmed on a Sunday at Oceana. The sprawling beach resort hosts a pool party which will without a doubt become a summer classic. If the sea is ritual during the summer in Lebanon, Oceana has quickly become one of the country's most important temples - that is if worship means cocktails, sunbathing and jet skiing.

Any given weekend the coast's many beach resorts teem with locals and foreigners alike seeking to bask in the primordial Mediterranean sun.

Oceana is no exception, yet its size, variety and, of course, half a kilometer of immaculate beach has made the heat of Lebanon's summer a little easier to take.

Located in Damour, 25 minutes drive south of central Beirut, the idyllic resort is situated between a shady banana grove and the sea.

The resort boasts five separate pool areas, two-tiered rows of ocean facing deckchairs as well as cabana facilities.AaAaAa

On weekdays, Oceana hosts between 800-900 patrons, swelling to 2,000 on a busy Sunday afternoon, hosted by Nostalgie Radio.

Lebanese make up the majority of Oceana's clientele however Egyptian, French and other Europeans can be found lounging on the resort's deckchairs.

When asked why Oceana rises above the rest, General Manager Ziad Abdo gestures first toward the sea and then to the mountains which envelope the resort: "It's too relaxing here. You can get away from traffic, from the city life, the sea on one side and trees on the other. Just peace and quiet everywhere here."

Not quite.

The two sides of the resort are truly generations and decibels apart.

At the more tranquil end of the resort, mothers, fathers and babysitters console apprehensive children whose are still getting used to their sea legs in the family pool or take some time out in the nearby children's play area.

At the other end of the resort young professionals make the most of the more flamboyant facilities of the "La Suite" area.

There, young men and women can be found sipping neon cocktails beside the pool-side bar, listening to techno beats and showing off their newest tribal tattoos.

On an apparently typical Wednesday afternoon, an all male dance competition ensued, stirring curious crowds from all ends of the resort (including the resort's staff) to inquire and photograph the spectacle with obvious amusement.

The miracle is that one would never know the other side exists.

"You can choose your mood here," says Abdo, "we want to cater to all kinds of people from families to young people who want to dance and party."

Oceana's real attraction, however, is its seemingly endless coastline with a pristine sandy beach, a rarity in rocky Lebanon.

Jellyfish and oil patches seem to have migrated elsewhere leaving the Oceana's waters untouched by those pesky fixtures of the Mediterranean.

Looking inland from the sea it is hard to envisage a more romantic landscape than this one of which so many travellers ancient and modern have written.

As Farah Bayoumi, a swimmer evidently taken by the view told The Daily Star while treading water: "I just love this place. It is resorts like this which make me appreciate the beauty of my country."

After-swim hunger pains are relieved by the extensive dining options offered around the beach resort.

To the line-up of popular American and European chain restaurants the newly opened Ocean grill offers diners a more traditional menu of local dishes.

As the day turns to evening remaining guests lazily watch the sunset over the sea, while most of the children are sleeping two by two on oversized lounge chairs.

It seems even the most ardent sun worshipers can get too much of a good thing.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Aug 12, 2008
Words:733
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