I’ve heard seasoned travel enthusiasts say that, in Asia, Sri Lanka is the next big thing. I couldn’t agree more! This was my fourth trip to the island nation and I can vouch for the overall tourist experience. For the luxury traveller, Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of premium experiences, luxurious hotels, gorgeous beaches, lush landscapes, smooth-as-butter roads, super spicy food and wonderfully gracious people. I was in Sri Lanka earlier this month, for the opening of the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle, which was organised in association with hotels.com. Let me tell you why the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle is Sri Lanka’s hottest new luxury address.
Prime Location – Said to be at the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka, the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle is breathtakingly situated atop a rocky outcrop, in an isolated stretch of Tangalle in southern Sri Lanka. A 4.5 hour drive from Colombo Airport (a tad bit tiring, after a flight. So you might want to spend the day of your arrival just relaxing after the journey). The hotel is set amidst lush thickets of coconut trees and opens out onto a pristine beach and the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean.
Chic Rooms – The Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle boasts 152 rooms and villas spread across the massive property. The rooms are largely clustered in modern buildings, around the swimming pool. The tastefully done rooms, the ocean front rooms are definitely worth the premium, are characterised by colonial wooden furniture and muted colours. My favourite part was the bathroom, with its large glass wall and its massive oval bathtub. The bathroom offers direct ocean views too. And what’s more, there are Nespresso machines in the room! Yipee!
Extravagant Villas – Situated a distance away from the main dining and swimming pool area of the hotel, the villas are impressive to say the very least. Some of the villas are strategically located along the shoreline and each comes with its own private pool (breathtaking). Each villa even comes with its own butler. Inside the villas, the living areas and bedrooms have been designed to offer a sense of understated, barefoot luxury. A night at the 689 sq foot Beach Pool Villa in the month of May, will set you back by INR 42,000 per night, according to hotels.com.
The Massive Pool – I judge a beach resort by its swimming pool, as that’s where I usually spend most of my time. Anantara Peace Haven’s infinity pool gets full marks from me as it is particularly stunning and overlooks the beachfront and the ocean. You could choose to sit in the semi-submerged pool beds or on the pool beds along the pool where each guest is given a ‘pool kit’ containing a towel, flip flops, sunblock, water and fruit, cleverly packed in a picnic basket. Sheer bliss!
The Daily Catch – Every morning before noon, a loud bell tolls in the main area of the hotel and guests are invited to step out of their rooms and pool to get onto the beach for the daily catch. The hotel’s resident fishing comes in from the seas with its daily catch and guests are given the opportunity to choose their fish, fresh off the boat, in the company of the hotel’s chefs, who will then take your fish to the kitchen and cook it for lunch.
The Panoramic Views – The hotel’s location is undoubtedly its best aspect. While the residential part of the hotel is situated along the beach front, the Italian restaurant and bar are located on a lofty cliff, offering some of the most breathtaking vistas in Sri Lanka. At the far end of the hill, is an edge, where you can watch the beautiful Indian Ocean sunrises as the waves lash furiously below. Every corner of this resort is picture-worthy.
The Food – What’s not to love about the robust flavours of Sri Lankan food? From the string hoppers and curry for breakfast, an authentic Sri Lankan cooking class (fish curry, chicken curry and the works) followed by lunch to a gourmet Italian dinner under the stars, the hotel’s food offerings are immense. The Sri Lankan cooking class is definitely a must-try and the chef will show you some easy-to-cook local recipes.
Understated Decor – I’ve always believed that Sri Lankans boast a very strong design sensibility. That said, they have managed to retain their colonial design sensibilities far better than anyone else. This is visible throughout the hotel in the gorgeous wooden furniture that dots the space, the tasteful artwork displayed throughout and, of course, the rooms and villas that are all about understated elegance. My pick — the graceful armchairs in the lobby area.
The Staff – What is a luxury hotel without its staff? Sri Lanka’s longstanding tradition of impeccable hospitality and warmth is instantly visible on the faces of each staff member, who greets you with a tinkling ‘ayubowan’ everywhere you go. The smiling staff, visibly genuine and not robotic, go out of their way to make you feel welcome, attending to your needs discreetly and without being intrusive or overbearing. My favourite part – the guest relations girls, in their gorgeous cotton saris and traditional crochet. Oh-so-charming!
Easy Bookings – Last but not the least, my stay at the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle was organised in association with hotels.com, whose focus on the luxury traveller is becoming increasingly evident. Check them out for some great deals and a loyalty program that is worth a mention.
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle