Monday, February 19, 2007

Old Chouf homes become new bed and breakfasts

Old Chouf homes become new bed and breakfasts
By Maher Zeineddine
Daily Star correspondent

CHOUF: In an attempt to boost environmental tourism, residents in the Chouf region are turning traditional homes into bed and breakfasts. Twelve municipalities affiliated with the Upper Chouf Municipalities League, in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Preserving Vestigial and Patrimonial Sites in the Chouf, launched an environmental project to renovate old tiled houses and turn them into bed and breakfasts to accommodate tourists who do not wish to stay in a hotel. "People who wish to invest in this project can rent the house based on a monthly or yearly contract, and the cost of renovation is agreed upon by the owner and the investor," the head of the league, Roger Ashi, told The Daily Star. Ashi said that the project is not restricted to old houses "that conform to traditional Lebanese architecture." "Anyone who feels that their house is suitable to become a bed and breakfast is welcomed to join in the project," he added.

The Chouf is rich in homes built in various architectural styles, Ashi said. "Byzantine, Roman and of course Lebanese styles have had a huge influence on the architecture of the Chouf region," he added. "Instead of allowing these sites to remain neglected, we thought of bringing life back to them and to the Chouf region as a whole," Ashi explained. Ashi added that a number of the houses in the project had been put up for sale by their owners, who "changed their minds and decided not to sell their houses when they learned about the new project."

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