He was a very slight little fellow with a huge beaming smile that made you feel warm and very welcome...
The second day in Sri Lanka saw us head central north with our driver and vehicle to an area known as the Cultural Triangle. The hotel we were heading for is a unique boutique we had wanted to visit for a while and as soon as we arrived it didn’t disappoint. We were warmly greeted with cool spiced tea and given a lovely introduction to the luxury hotel by the guest relation officer who explained that at the hotel’s core is a 150 year old mansion, with just 20 private eco chalets positioned throughout the grounds that stretch an impressive 58 acres. The sheer size of the land means that you feel like you’re the only guests in residence, even if it’s fully booked. There are almost 100 staff so you never want for anything as someone always seems to be on hand.
Before being taken to our room we were invited to formally announce our arrival at the hotel by lighting a candle together and then ringing a glorious wall of vintage bells. This is not an ordinary check-in, but then it’s by no means an ordinary hotel. It’s so special. With huge grins on our faces we were then driven to our room on a buggy, which is very exciting. As we wound through the immaculately kept grounds we even had the most gorgeous peacocks running alongside our buggy, as if they were excited by our arrival. When you see your room for the first time you can’t quite believe the whole villa is just for you, it’s absolutely huge at over 850 square feet. It’s high up too, built on stilts for extra privacy. You notice two bikes underneath the room and you realise these are for exploring the grounds. As you approach the room you see the sparkle of your own private turquoise plunge pool and secluded decking with sun loungers.
When you walk in to the room the size and quality of the place stretches your grin even wider. There’s top to bottom glass for panoramic views of the surrounding unspoilt natural paradise of trees, wildlife and wild flowers. There’s a stylishly draped king size four poster bed, classic Sri Lankan chairs, an oversized bathroom with rain shower and even your own living room with romantic dining table, high end bluetooth ipod speakers, 42 inch LED TV and wifi. You realise the chalet is a complete destination in itself and you wonder how you’re ever going to drag yourself away from it. Then you remember back to the glimpse of the 150 year old mansion and the pool. The anticipation that even more surprises are in store gives you an overwhelming sense of comfort and luxury. You know you’ve arrived somewhere that you’ll never ever forget.
We recently went back to our second home Sri Lanka on one of our island wide tours to check in on some of our most stunning hotels on this paradise island nestled in the Indian Ocean. It was so good to be back, absorbing all the sunshine and warmth of the tropical weather, seeing our old favourite places and faces and seeing some new ones along the way. It never fails to surprise me that no matter how many times you go to Sri Lanka it always seems to amaze you with it’s sheer natural beauty and character. It’s like no other place.
After a very comfortable overnight flight from Heathrow, we arrived at the main airport just outside of the capital Colombo and were met by one of our professional chauffeurs Mohan and whisked away to our first 5* hotel at a nearby beach town. It’s a hotel we have been to several years ago but we wanted to check it out again as it’s been taken over and completely rebuilt. We were so pleased we came back, it’s right on the beach, has a stunning pool with canopied seats that are actually in the water, the rooms are spacious and modern with lovely views of the palm trees, pool, sands and sea. The food was amazing, serving all the western food you could imagine but the local rice and curry was one of the best we’d had in ages. On arrival we were greeted by a French front desk assistant and a Sri Lankan hotel staff too. Refreshing freezing cold face towels that smell of cinnamon were given to us to cool off the 30 degree heat and the welcome tropical drinks were so fresh and delicious. It’s a great place to start your holiday or honeymoon as coming straight to the beach means you can just immediately relax, gather your thoughts and look forward to touring the green palm tree studded island which we’ve loved for so many years.
Well coming here to relax is at least what our couples would usually do, but we came back to work so after a drink of king coconut milk (perfect for a pick-me-up) we headed out in the car straight to visit another of our sister hotels on the other side of the sleepy fishing town of Negombo. During this trip we wanted to see as many of our hotels again as possible, as it’s important to us that we send our couples to only the very best, first class hotels on the island.
We often get asked 'Are your holidays, honeymoons and weddings to Sri Lanka and The Maldives cheaper than the big travel agents out there, such as Virgin, Kuoni and Thomas Cook?' The answer is simply that we always give you better value for your money. You get more pow for your pounds as it were.
Because we lived in Sri Lanka we know so much more about it compared to any other travel company out there, as we have experienced it first hand. We've stayed at the hotels, had our own chauffeur, cuddled the elephants, experienced the safaris and become close friends with the locals. So we really do know it by instinct, by touch and by feel. It's second nature to us. Most high street travel agents will simply pick up their brochure flick through to see if they list Sri Lanka and then tell you the information in the brochure. So they'll say something like 'it says here that this is the best month to travel to the west coast'. They are usually just reading information from a brochure and passing on the information to you. If you're lucky you may get a member of staff who is the designated specialist for Sri Lanka or The Maldives, when in actual fact they may have just been lucky enough to visit for a week or two on work. They'll tell you how great this or that hotel is, but in reality the hotel know they are a travel agent and can sometimes give them preferential treatment. All this doesn’t really compare to having lived there and visited the hotels as holiday makers, receiving real service, which means we can give you real advice.
Also we don't just book you a flight and hotel leave you to it, we personally serve you by carefully selecting the best hotels and experiences for you as an individual. We give you a really specific service both in the UK and in Sri Lanka with our team on the ground in Colombo. With us you can be sure that you're getting the most out of your trip to Sri Lanka and The Maldives and very best value for money. After all, if you choose to go there for such a special holiday, you need to make sure you make the most of it.
I remember the first proper time I heard the words 'Sri Lanka' I was in Leicester at Uni and Claire told me about a 'live brief' project she was working on, where the prize for 2 best designers of the project was a 2 month work experience placement in Sri Lanka.
Claire, along with another girl, won the project, they had designed the best lingerie narrow textiles for the client and so were whisked out to the little island in the Indian Ocean (I wasn't even sure where it was, I just knew Claire said it was near India).
There was no way I was going to miss out on the opportunity to visit this paradise island Claire had been telling me all about over the phone and through email, so I closed our little summer business for a week and set out for Sri Lanka! It had been several weeks since Claire and I had seen one another and I'll never forget arriving for the first time at the airport just outside Colombo and seeing Claire again. I'm not sure whether it was because we hadn't seen one another for a while or whether it was the heat or the excitement or the adventure I was on! To cut a long story short, I went to Sri Lanka for a week and ended up having to go to Lyon in France for a job interview for jobs as soon as we had graduated the following summer.
We completed our Uni courses back in Leicester and then set off to embark on an amazing adventure that would shape the rest of our lives together...
Guess what question we get asked most often...'why on earth did you come back to the UK?!'
Well the answer is simple, it was the lure of the fine English weather.
I'm joking of course, leaving behind the glorious weather of the tropical Indian Ocean was rather hard knowing what the weather is usually like back home, but we did have more than our fair share of sunshine whilst in Sri Lanka I suppose!
We only went out to Sri Lanka originally on a 1 year contract for work and ended up renewing and renewing again because we were just so in love with the paradise we had discovered! If you decide to let us design your own bespoke trip out to Sri Lanka then you'll see why we stayed.
By the people who lived in Sri Lanka
Living in Sri Lanka is an amazing experience. Because the founders of our family-run business, Reece & Claire, lived there for years it means we are able to offer Sri Lanka like no one else out there. So if you want the insiders guide to the best places to stay, best things to do and best way to get around then you've come to the right place. This is the gateway to the real paradise, and you're invited.
If you would like to receive a personalised package and price from us, then please get in touch as our team are always here to help you.