Following WW2, the Grand Gebeily Hotel enjoyed a revival, becoming renowned for its evening entertainment – singers, concerts, ballroom dancing, tea-parties, tennis, gambling … even the garden outside was at one stage enlarged to accommodate a pool with rowing boats.
It was the golden era – Grand Hotel Gebeily was the first venue to host the incredible Egyptian artist Oum Kalthoum outside of her motherland. Farid al-Atrash and Abdel-Halim Hafez, among many famous names, performed at this illustrious location.
The restaurant served French cuisine, guests sipped champagne on the terrace, the hotel welcomed royalty and heads of state from around the world.
Once again, this success was short-lived.
Hotel Gebeily was forced to close down once again following the start of the Lebanese Civil War.
Ultimately, this took its toll and the Gebeilys sold the hotel. Repairs would have been too costly, it was no longer profitable to open continuously as in the past, and operating costs had become prohibitive. It is said that personal threats from militias forced the family to sell for a fraction of its worth.
Aley’s Ghraizi family bought the historic property in 1977. Strangely, they repurposed the annex of the hotel as a school, remnants of which can still be seen on the site, with colorful walls painted with flowers.
The Ghraizis, too, however were plagued by financial woes and were unable to make loan repayments. The Grand Hotel Aley was then seized by the Central Bank, and left for sale under auction for several years.
The hotel was sold to Nadim Makarem in the summer of 2016. At the time, there were rumours that the Hotel Gebeily would be restored to its former glory and re-opened – that has yet to happen, but Aley is ever hopeful of the renaissance of its famous landmark.