Luxury And Social Consciousness In Sri Lanka That Comes In Threes
In my opinion, luxury should not come at the expense of being ethical, culturally conscious, and conservation minded. Thankfully, family-owned, Sri Lanka-based Resplendent Ceylon is a hospitality brand that wholeheartedly lives these righteous principles. But, it’s not so surprising when you think about this company’s origins. Native Sri Lankan, Merrill J. Fernando, who has long embraced philanthropy, founded Dilmah in the 1980s as an ethical, single-origin tea company that fairly shares profits with its workers -- the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Resplendent Ceylon branched off from Dilmah as its hospitality brand with Malik J. Fernando -- who shares his father’s love and respect for Sri Lanka, its people and the environment -- at the helm as Managing Director. Currently, they have three, distinctive properties in their collection -- all part of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio -- and at least a couple more are in the planning stages. What links this triad is that they each are enwrapped in Sri Lanka’s complex culture and history, and are set among some of Sri Lanka’s many treasures: tea fields in the Central Highlands; golden sand beaches where the surf tumbles; and a national park teaming with wildlife, most notably leopards and elephants.
CEYLON TEA TRAILS
Two thousand undulating acres are a brilliant quilt of green, coated with working tea fields, stretching from the Castlereagh lakefront up through the Bogawantalawa Valley.
Laid back with a comfortable sense of intimacy. Yet, there are also options for a communal experience, including choosing to dine at a large table, interacting with other guests.
Five colonial-era tea planters’ bungalows have been lovingly restored and converted into elegant accommodations that transport guests to another era. Depending on the bungalow’s location, you may be ensconced directly on the lake shore, or along the verdant slopes with lake vistas from on high, or mountain and woodland views. Of course, it is possible to lay your head at one bungalow, but visit others for lunch or high tea. The bungalows have distinctive personalities, whether it’s contemporary and window laden, evocative of an English country retreat, or set in the hills where thickets of bamboo grow. The rooms in each bungalow -- at most, half a dozen -- are individually-decorated, named for tea planters or their relatives. For example, the Jamison room in the Castlereagh bungalow comes with its own garden speckled with pink, white, red and purple blossoms. In the expansive bathroom, guests can luxuriate in the clawfoot tub or the open rain shower, taking advantage of the amenities rich in antioxidants from Ceylon teas.
The in-house chef meets with every guest to discuss their preferences and food restrictions. Three-course, gourmet Western or Sri Lankan meals are the rule, whether you sit down for lunch or savor a candle-lit dinner on the breezy verandah of your bungalow. Pumpkin soup; cuttlefish and jackfruit curries with fruit sourced from the property; and ginger pudding cake are some of the scrumptious, every-changing dinner menu options. (Guests also enjoy gathering for evening cocktails and canapes before dinner.) In the British tradition, afternoons bring high tea with delicacies set on three tiers. These may hold a mini lemon tart, chocolate eclairs and strawberry roll cakes, and crustless cucumber sandwiches, with sides of clotted cream and rhubarb and strawberry jams. Among the more than a dozen teas available, one that’s pleasantly light and bright with tannins is the Ranwatta Lover’s Leap Estate that’s grown at 5,700 feet.
Each bungalow is staffed with a very attentive butler, house attendant, and chef that take care of your every need. The day typically unfolds with the butler waking you up with Bed Tea.
Some guests prefer to spend their days lounging by poolside. Others want to partake in the many activities and excursions available. These include croquet, tennis, guided or self-guided hiking and walking, mountain biking, kayaking on the lake, a visit to the Dunkeld tea factory, and guided trips to nearby towns. There are also day treks to climb 7,362-foot-high Adam's Peak -- a mountain that’s sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims; and excursions to Kandy, or Nuwara Eliya, a picturesque town.
WILD COAST TENTED LODGE
An arid jungle expanse that’s sandwiched between sand dunes and a boulder-strewn (and sandy) beachfront on the Indian Ocean and the edge of Yala National Park that’s populated with leopards, elephants and many other creatures.
Eco-glamping at a safari camp. Guests relish the multitude of comforts and attention to detail, but untamed nature is never far away. The property is not fenced off from Yula National Park, so any animal could wander about, including wild boar, and sloth bear.
Twelve otherworldly, pod-like accommodations with porthole windows are clustered in different sections of the property. These hand-sewn, sci-fi-like cocoons are constructed of breathable canvas and are furnished with four-poster beds; leather embellished tables, chairs and accessories that reference a colonial expedition motif; and plenty of copper accents, including a copper clawfoot tub with elephant feet. Families can reserve one of the accommodations that comes with an adjacent child’s cocoon (the “Urchin). (This affords parents with plenty of privacy.) Some of the teak decks come with a soaking pool, while others look out to a watering hole beyond where egrets (and other bird species) may visit as well as monitor lizards, wild boar, grey monkeys and ring-tailed civets.
Two dome-shaped, bamboo- and teak shingle-clad structures house the open-air restaurant and bar that both offer views of the meandering infinity swimming pool. The restaurant's extensive menu offerings represent a creative fusion of Western and Sri Lankan ingredients and flavors. Among the many delicacies served are spiced crustacean bisque with lobster and prawns that’s accompanied by a lobster/prawn mousse dumpling; and baked tilapia wrapped in a lotus leaf with pickled plantains and lotus seed rice. The desserts, such as wood apple panna cotta, and homemade avocado ice cream, are equally inventive.
Each cocoon comes with everything you need to enjoy a drink on your terrace at the end of the day, including wine, beer, hard liquor, and chasers. If you desire some homemade bar snacks to accompany your cocktail, you can order freshly-made popcorn with cilantro and lime, roasted nuts, meringue kisses and more. Or, choose from among the many refreshing cocktails served at the bar that has a perfect setting, beside the meandering pool. Otherwise, follow a path of oil lanterns from the restaurant-bar to the shore where cushions are placed atop the many boulders for the daily Sundowner. Nibble on an array of hors d’oeuvres (such as chicken with chili paste, and watermelon with Parma ham) while taking in the views of tumultuous waves washing up on the barren coastline.
The myriad treatments offered at the Sanctuary Spa are sure to banish any residential stress. Those who favor exfoliations should go for the very thorough Island Spice Scrub that includes turmeric and sandalwood. Couples can enjoy a multi-treatment experience together, or separately that includes a botanical hair treatment and stimulating seaweed wrap for her, and an Indian head massage and vigorous Balinese massage for him.
Every day, professional guides that are a wealth of information lead two-hour morning and late afternoon safaris in Yala National Park. (Some guests attend both so that they’re assured of seeing as many creatures as possible, including, not just leopards and elephants, but also crocodiles, and numerous species of birds, such as cormorants, whistling ducks, painted storks, spoonbills, and various birds of prey.)
If you haven’t seen enough wildlife or botanicals on your safari, you can also reserve a one-hour, guided bush walk in the park’s transition zone.
The almost 13-acre, perfectly landscaped, flower-bedecked property perches on a headland that provides sweeping views of the Indian Ocean on Sri Lanka’s southern tip.
Seclusion and privacy -- thanks to the many alcoves, terraces, gardens, and narrow cobblestone lanes -- melds with a sense of community that’s engendered by the many swimming pools, restaurants and other public spaces.
Among the property’s varied eateries, the aptly named Ocean Terrace is the main restaurant, serving Sri Lankan and Western cuisine in a grand setting. This is the place to delight in carefully prepared dishes while enjoying expansive ocean views. Depending on whether you crave comfort food or something more avant garde, the menu is divided into myriad sections. The most creative are the Progressive Sri Lankan and Contemporary categories, which may include gamboge- and black pepper-flavored tuna in cinnamon wood smoke with coconut rice; and carrots prepared three ways (roasted, pureed and pickled with crushed cashews). Among the various delectable desserts: buffalo curd cheesecake with ginger crumble, pineapple and mint; and tropical fruit meringue with mango and passion fruit custard.
Another restaurant that was my favorite, the Chef’s Table, appeals to gourmands. Reservations are required for either of the two nightly seatings. Here, you’ll have an interactive experience with the chef. The chefs rotate nightly, but each prepares a constantly changing, four-course menu in front of no more than a dozen guests. Among the multi courses served one night: slow poached lobster with mustard mayonnaise and hazelnuts; squid salad served with cauliflower puree and squid ink crackers; white tomato cappuccino with tomatoes, pine nuts, salsa and tomato dust; and poached barramundi with tobiko butter sauce and green pea puree.
All the villas are snuggled by lush tropical gardens that are ringed by low stone walls, with two or three villas clustered around an infinity swimming pool that looks out to the foliage and the ocean beyond. (Each cluster is named for an explorer of Old Ceylon, such as Marco Polo.) The villas, which are a contemporary take on a traditional Sri Lankan village, are individually furnished and decorated, and are set on verdant grounds that differ greatly in terms of landscaping and topography. For example, within the Ernst Haeckel cluster, hanging on the walls of one villa are framed reproductions of old Ceylon maps from the colonial period. In the immense bathroom where a bamboo ladder is draped with fluffy towels, the shower readily transforms into a steam room.
Each set of villas is assigned an attendant who assures that guests want for nothing, whether it’s a dinner reservation or advice on day excursions. And, once you wander to one of the swimming pools, another attendant will have a soft towel and an ice-cold bottle of water at the ready.
The adults-only Moon Pool is a true design gem. This crescent-shaped, palm lined, infinity pool radiates serenity. Often, the only sounds are the twittering of birds and the waves lapping far below on the shore. You may decide to spend much of the day there, knowing you can order food and beverages from the pool menu. The limeades -- such as one made by mixing fresh lime juice along with pepper, cane sugar and sparkling water -- are especially refreshing.
If you are still at a loss for the right gift to bring home to family and friends, you’re bound to find a unique item at Cape Weligama’s gift shop, that stocks everything from colorful linen and cotton scarves to postcards that are reproduction of Old Ceylon posters from the 1950s. (The entire inventory comes from Sri Lanka.)
Whether you desire something low-key or are a thrill seeker, there is an activity to fit your needs. Cape Weligama’s offerings include cooking classes led by one of the three chefs on property, surfing, blue whale watching, biking or car trips through nearby villages, or visiting the colonial fort town of Galle.
Guests have a choice of sunning at either of two beaches set at either edge of the property. At one end is East Beach, a slim curve of sand that’s a swimmable public beach; and at the opposite side of Cape Weligama is West Beach, that’s accessed via a gate and a very steep set of stairs. This wild, narrow strip of sand is ideal for surfing lessons, thanks to the vigorous surf. (Swimming is prohibited.)
For a short but scenic walking option on property, stroll the thin, fieldstone-surfaced “Cliff Walk” that curves this way and that from the Moon Pool to the Cove Pool, with never ending views of foliage and the Indian Ocean.
Of the property's three scenic lookouts, the best sunsets can be viewed from Lookout Blue where you can sign up for private yoga classes or complimentary group yoga three days a week. Guests can also reserve a candlelight dinner. Don’t be surprised if, in the vast distance, you spot ships transiting between Singapore and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Source - https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeaninebarone/2018/09/02/luxury-and-social-consciousness-in-sri-lanka-that-comes-in-threes/#1d1f3f1a55d4