Lebanon’s beautiful snowy valleys were first tapped for their skiing potential in 1913, when intrepid sportspeople headed to the hills near the Aley region of Mount Lebanon. In 1923, occupying French officers couldn’t resist the pristine slopes of the Baidar, Knaisseh and Mzaar mountains. Twelve years later, French entrepreneurs set up Lebanon’s ski school at Le Grand Cedre Hotel in the Cedar Forest of northern Lebanon.<br /><br />Now the slopes of Mzaar (formerly called Faraya), whose white tops are visible from Beirut, which is 53 kilometers away, are one of the world’s most exotic ski resorts. Mzaar isn’t a huge area by European standards, but its glamour (the resort became a centre of high life and night life in the 1970s) and historical grandeur make it uniquely attractive. <br /><br />Skiing in the Land of Milk and Honey is far from limiting, though. Elevation is respectable at 2465m, and the area covers 80 kms, with 19 ski lifts, grooming equipment and plenty of Red Cross patrolmen and medically-equipped rescue teams. Mzaar usually has good quality snow from December to March – but snow machines are on hand to chip in if the weather hots up.<br /><br />Après ski is an integral part of the experience, and there is a piquant combination of Middle Eastern and French mountainside food (and partying) available in the ski town Faraya. Mezze meets raclette here, and you’re spoiled for choice with discos for dancing till dawn.<br /><br />There are a range of places to stay- including chalets that might have landed from Courchevel, but the proximity to Beirut makes it perfect for a day trip, so you can have the best of both worlds – an alpine experience in Mount Lebanon for day; the chic, frenetic and exciting city of Beirut in the evening. <br /><br />Where to stay: Le Gray hotel is Beirut’s first five-star, boutique hotel. It’s got a rooftop bar, beautiful spa and great views, and is one hour from the slopes. Le Gray is offering US$315 for two per night in a Deluxe Room; www.legray.com.