Alexandria, Egypt, had long been renowned for its ancient library and the Pharos, a colossal lighthouse, but when Napoleon arrived in 1798 he found only a humble fishing village. Earthquakes and fire had destroyed the celebrated wonders, and the port would not be revived until the 1820’s. In the past few years Alexandria has been experiencing another renewal, reclaiming its role as a cultural beacon thanks to its new library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (20-3/483-9999; www.bibalex.org), inaugurated in 2002, and the Alexandria National Museum (20-3/483-5519), which opened in a handsomely restored Italianate villa the following year. This spring a world-class hotel will join these cultural institutions. Blessed with ocean breezes and sandy beaches, Alexandria’s corniche will be home to the 150-room Four Seasons San Stefano (800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $250). Constructed on the site of a posh 1930’s resort, it will feature a European spa, a private beach, and a restaurant with views of the Mediterranean.
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