Now is a good time to explore the magical country of Sri Lanka since it’s still affordable and uncrowded, something that will change in the future since it is predicted that more and more travelers will flock to the Indian Ocean’s largest island. Sri Lanka offers boundless opportunities for discovery with its magnificent beaches, shining blue waters, a staggering number of Unesco World Heritage Sites (8 in total), oodles of elephants, verdant tea plantages, and exotic (but spicy) food. Sri Lanka is also home to some world-class hotels and resorts (with more exciting hotel openings announced in the near future). Here’s my top 10 list of the best resorts in Sri Lanka.
Named for the Sanskrit word meaning “in harmony with,” Santanit is the first and only purpose-built wellness resort in Sri Lanka and realises the sincere belief that sustainable wellness begins by bringing oneself into balance with nature and by allowing ourselves to receive nurture from ourselves as well as from others. Offering effective, meaningful wellness without artifice, Santani has a pure and simple purpose: to help you get unstuck. This 48-acre former tea plantation within a pristine forest now functions as a restorative destination spa, which is completely accessible yet blissfully secluded. The 18 rooms are built for natural ventilation and are air-condition free. Guests are free to roam around the tropical jungle and fertile rice fields, to practice yoga or to meditate along the Hulu River.
Only ten minutes from the town of Kalutara and an hour south of the capital Colombo, Anantara Kalutara has a unique setting between the Indian Ocean and Kalu River and boasts coastal, river and lagoon frontage. All 141 guest rooms, suites and pool villas immerse guests in stunning views, with private balconies and terraces overlooking lush gardens, the ocean or lagoon. All guest rooms come with a wine humidor as standard and interconnecting, disabled and poolside guest rooms are available. Suites are set apart by an elegant lounge and the one-of-a-kind one bedroom Presidential Suite boasts a private plunge pool and sundeck. The resort has two swimming pools, a fantastic spa and a choice of three restaurants.
Overlooking the pristine southern coast of beautiful Sri Lanka, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is located along the ancient Spice Route in a city steeped in rich history. Hambantota is known for its natural beauty and wildlife, and allows visitors to explore Asia’s most fascinating nature sanctuaries, including the Yala and Bundala National Parks. The luxury resort spans 53 hectares, making it the largest resort in Sri Lanka, and boasts 300 spacious rooms, including 21 suites, all surrounded by stunning tropical gardens. It is home to an 18-hole golf course, an expansive spa and an artisan village that celebrates local arts and crafts. The beachfront resort is an adventurer’s dream, with a mosaic of activities and unique curated expeditions to help you absorb the diversity of the island at its best.
Where trade winds carried legendary explorers like Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta and Fa-Hsien past Sri Lanka’s soaring southern cliffs on some of history’s most celebrated nautical journeys, Cape Weligama became one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated beach resorts, along this fabled island’s palm fringed shores. Thirty minutes east of Galle, the property sits atop a singular promontory rising high above the Indian Ocean. Stunning panoramas await you, naturally complementing the 39 private retreats designed by one of Asia’s most celebrated architects, Lek Bunnag. The hotel offers an array of dining venues capturing Weligama’s iconic sunsets, as does the large crescent-shaped infinity pool that appears to flow seamlessly into the shimmering sea, while those timeless breezes ensure elegant swells unfurl onto the sun kissed sand.
The Shangri-La Colombo benefits from a prime location by the sea that is in the heart of Colombo’s business district and buzzing social hotspot. A personal tropical sanctuary that is perfect for escaping the city, it offers some of the finest, most modern accommodations in the country, with 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites, and 41 serviced apartments. An exciting new dining and social scene has come to life around the hotel’s outstanding group of restaurants and bars, and the exclusive Horizon Club Lounge is the largest of its kind in Colombo. Shangri-La’s award-winning CHI, The Spa presents 7 private rooms at the property with a soothing selection of traditional Sri Lankan and Asian treatments and therapies. The spa is complemented by a state-of-the-art, 24-hour health club and one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in Colombo.
Hidden on a rocky outcrop along a secluded stretch of Sri Lanka’s southernmost coastline, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is set amidst a coconut plantation fronting a golden crescent beach. Enjoying glorious Indian Ocean views, the resort offers a naturally exclusive hideaway for exotic beach life in a tranquil world of your own, as well as living out dreams of adventure with easy access to cultural sites, national parks and whale watching. Inspired by ancient Sri Lankan design and Anantara’s sense of indulgence, the 152 rooms and pool villas offers couple’s romance, and ample space for families and friends. Hotel facilities include a children’s and teens’ club, a lovely spa, and several dining outlets, one of them serving Sri Lankan inspired teppanyaki beside the beach
The world’s first tea bungalow resort, Ceylon Tea Trails is an icon for small luxury resorts. Comprising of five restored colonial era tea planter residences, the period furnishings, gracious butler service and gourmet cuisine create an ambience that has made Tea Trails the gold standard for luxury bungalows in Sri Lanka. The resort borders the World Heritage Central Highlands and offers breathtaking panoramas of mountains and lush tea fields. Each bungalow exudes its own exquisite ambiance while offering guests the non-hotel, private house ambience that is the hallmark of the award-winning, “all-inclusive” Tea Trails experience. Here, you can take a trail through panoramic Ceylon tea gardens, laze in one of the bungalows, or watch the mist roll in with a crackling fire warding off the evening chill.
Resplendent Ceylon’s latest creation is Wild Coast Tented Lodge, adjacent to the world-famous Yala National Park, renowned for its dense leopard population. This luxury tented camp is situated in a stunning location where the jungle meets the pristine shoreline, overlooking the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The lodge’s 28 tented accommodations blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape thanks to the use of carefully selected natural materials. A clever layout in the shape of a leopard’s paw print alludes to the area’s most famous resident. The open-air bamboo-clad dining pavilion – designed to mirror the boulders scattered across the golden beach beyond – wraps around the resort’s lovely free-form swimming pool.
Occupying a 17th-century Dutch colonial building within the ramparts of Galle’s historic fort, Amangalla is woven unmistakably into the rich tapestry of this enthralling city. With its original polished teak floors, antique furniture and 19th-century artefacts dating from the building’s former life as the New Oriental Hotel, a bygone era is kept elegantly intact, allowing guests an atmospheric insight into the many chapters of the storied citadel on Amangalla’s doorstep. Restored with care and brought to life by antique furnishings and decorations, the 28 rooms and suites enjoy kingsize fourposter antique beds, freestanding baths, and a living area with a writing desk and dining table. Amangalla is managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand.
On Sri Lanka’s sun-baked south coast near the fishing town of Tangalle, Amanwella lies amid 37 acres of coconut trees next to a perfect crescent of golden sand. The resort derives its name by combining the words, aman, or “peace” in Sanskrit, and wella, the Sinhalese name for beach. Combining modernist lines and indigenous materials, guest suites are inspired by the work of famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa; flooded with light, they each open on two sides to private plunge pools and large terraces overlooking the Indian Ocean. Away from the palm-shaded private beach club and the olympic sized pool, the area’s diverse attractions – from tea plantations to treks and temple visits – capture Sri Lanka at its most authentic. Amanwella is managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand.
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