Sri Lanka in five nights

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The editor-in-chief of
a top New York based travel magazine recently wrote to SriLankaInStyle CEO
Miguel Cunat to inquire about a short holiday to the island (just five nights).
Sri Lanka, small though it may be in size, has so much to offer that, even to the
most resourceful traveller, five nights just isn’t going to cut it. But Miguel,
being the experienced and sought after destination-manager that he is, came up
with an elaborate yet concise six-day travel plan for the editor and his
companion that captures the essence of Sri Lanka without compromising on
quality or style. Let’s take a look.

It is virtually impossible to see Sri Lanka completely and comprehensively
in just five nights. Unless, of course, we fly you around in sea planes and
helicopters. There is a scheduled sea plane service that connects various parts
of the island that isn’t expensive and works wonderfully well. Naturally, the
exact plan for the first day would depend on the time of your arrival; but the
scheduled flights to the Cultural Triangle and to Kandy will put you in the
ancient heart of Sri Lanka in a heartbeat, saving you a four-hour drive. This,
in my opinion, would be the ideal way to start your trip – not least because
nothing beats a bird’s eye view of the tropical paradise that is Sri Lanka. But
let me backtrack a little and paint you an overall picture before getting into
operational details.
The ancient capital of Anuradhapura

Sri Lanka is incredibly varied and diverse. It is a country
that has a history that goes back thousands of years with its own unique heritage
and rich culture. That said, it is a country through which 24 civilizations
(dynasties?) have passed. A friend archeologist who recently alerted me to this
fact said that it is impossible to talk about Sri Lankan history without
casting a much wider net and approaching the subject from a regional
perspective. Among the forces that have shaped the county’s identity and
character is, of course, Buddhism and, in particular, the custodianship of the
tooth relic of the Buddha for over two millennia (the Temple of the Tooth in
Kandy is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in the world). The great east
and west trading routes for both spices and textiles as well as the geography
of the island have played a huge role in shaping its history. The entire
country is one giant botanical garden. Everything grows in Sri Lanka; the land
is incredibly fertile and food and water is plentiful. Today, Sri Lanka is the
second largest exporter of tea in the world, and the largest exporter of
cinnamon.

Sri Lanka was a tremendous asset to the Portuguese, the
Dutch and the British, each colonizer nation left its mark on the people and
the land adding to the diversity and to the general mix of things here. In
today’s global geopolitics, Sri Lanka is at a crossroads (namely China, India
and the west).
Another little known fact is that Sri Lanka is home to the
highest density of leopard in the world. We also have elephants, bears, sperm
whales and blue whales, and 33 endemic species of birds. It is truly one of the
most bio-diverse places on the planet.
In order to grasp the significance of Sri Lanka and the
interplay of all this, there are various places in the country that you need to
visit even within the short spell of time you will be here. The devil is in the
details (or planning) and the people you meet.
Sigiriya

A trip around Sri Lanka is always best planned in a
clockwise fashion – starting from the center north and then working your way
down through the mountains/tea plantations to the south. Unfortunately, a visit
to Yala National Park (where the probability of seeing leopard is approximately
75% over a 1 night stay) might be a little out of the way and difficult to
include on a five-night trip. On arrival, I would head up to the Cultural
Triangle to see the remains of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization – Sigiriya Rock
at the very least, if possible also the Dambulla Cave Temples, both UNESCO
Heritage sites. One night would do. We can try to fly you there in roughly 45
minutes. (This will, again, depend on the time of your arrival. Keep in mind
that it would be a four-hour drive, otherwise). From here, we need to organize
a chauffeur/guide to take you to Kan

dy. En route, you can stop for lunch at the
home of Ena de Silva, who runs a a fantastic cooperative of local village folk
who team up to cook a spread of 22 curries: hands down the best food in Sri
Lanka. In the evening, a visit the Temple of the Tooth – UNESCO World Heritage
site – is highly recommended. The following morning, check out the Royal
Botanical Gardens with a learned Professor of Botany named Bandara Palipana,
and then fly back to Colombo city via sea plane (45 minutes again). That’s the
‘center north’ covered.

The Temple of the Tooth

Here onwards, you could drive down the coast to Tangalle (if
you wish) and spend a night at the AMAN (note that beaches are beaches anywhere
in the tropics and technically you
need not go to Tangalle if you would rather your trip’s focus be on culture and
people; but, of course, it is an option if you wish to rest a little). The
drive from Colombo to Tangalle is three hours, approximately. Overnight stay in
Tangalle (that would be night number 3) giving us two more nights.
Hotel Amangalla

I would then head to Galle, yet another UNESCO site. En
route, you may visit Herman Gunaratne’s tea plantation and have a cup of tea
with the man, who just so happens to be a living legend in the tea trade. And
then, lunch at Villa Mayurana, a Cinnamon Plantation, followed by a visit to
the plantation itself. In the late afternoon, head to Galle Fort and check into
AMANGALLA. There you will find a renowned author by the name of Juliet Coombe
who can show you around. She is full of stories and anecdotes about the fort
and its Dutch heritage. Overnight at the AMAN.

The next day, I would head back to Colombo, possibly
stopping en route to have lunch at Lunuganga, the home of the late great
Geoffrey Bawa – father of an architecture style called ‘tropical modernism’.
His home and gardens are stunning, to say the least. The drive to Lunuganga from
Galle takes one hour, and from Lunuganga to Colombo takes another 1.5 hours,
approximately. It is important to try and get to Colombo in the early afternoon.
Colombo

Colombo is where you will take the pulse of the nation in
terms of where it’s at economically, socially and culturally, and how Sri Lanka
is faring in an increasingly ‘globalized’ world. There are a few great shops and
department stores and an array of high quality restaurants that would make for
a fun and interesting last hoorah! Your flight back home will take off either late
that evening or the next morning.

So that’s that, in a nutshell.

  • Day 1 – Cultural Triangle
  • Day 2 – Kandy
  • Day 3 – Tangalle
  • Day 4 – Galle
  • Day 5 – Colombo
A bit crazy, perhaps – but doable and fun, and in-style as well.

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The Cape, Your Oyster

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An icon of the south, Cape Weligama opened its doors in October and now shares the spotlight with a handful of other high end luxury accommodation players in the south.

Guests will appreciate it’s new-world ambiance in what is one of the most awe inspiring stretches of coastline in Sri Lanka.

Being located just a 30 minute drive from the massive granite ramparts of the 400-year-old Dutch colonial Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of this region’s strategic importance to maritime history, Cape Weligama is perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

The Lek Bunnag designed property is nestled in a natural slope atop Weligama’s striking headland, offering private Residences and Villas with 40 bedrooms in all.

Nearby, the slender white Dondra Lighthouse, built by the British in 1890, marks this island’s southernmost tip. Beyond, the vast cerulean sea churns unremittingly all the way to Antarctica.

Beneath terracotta-tiled rooftops, stylish interiors unfold as generously sized contemporary living quarters, each one surrounded by manicured garden.

The Cape Weligama Residence is the property’s most breath-taking accommodation offering stunning Indian Ocean views from both bedrooms across two levels and an infinity pool on the upper level.

All accommodations overlook the Indian Ocean, with private butler services, individual gardens, dining and spa facilities.

Enjoy Ceylonese indulgence. Cape Weligama’s experienced therapists come to your Residence where dedicated spa facilities pamper you ‘at home’. Organic home grown Sri Lankan spice scrubs made from clove, nutmeg, sweet orange and sandalwood relieve stress and naturally attend to travel weary muscles while bespoke, essential oil massage blends incorporate Ceylon tea, renowned for its antioxidant, anti-ageing and calming properties.

Highly recommended is a blissful massage on the veranda, or with a fragrant scrub followed by an invigorating herbal steam treatment inbuilt in the shower room followed by a sleep inducing soak in a stone bathtub.

Swim and snorkel in the aquamarine bay beneath Cape Weligama, or  explore neighboring coves by kayak or learn to surf on Weligama’s legendary curls. Soon to come will be a Dive Centre, staffed by an experienced international team of professionals, offers a comprehensive range of PADI dive courses. Other off shore activities include private sunset cruises, big game fishing, seasonal whale and dolphin-watching trips and banana boating.

Away from this idyllic coastline, explore sleepy villages, paddy fields, meandering lagoons and ancient temples by guided bicycle ride. Take a boat or kayak out on nearby Koggala Lake, its tranquil lagoon edged by fragrant cinnamon gardens and tropical wildlife.

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This Weekend!

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PROPERTY SPOTLIGHT: Bethany 101

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A real gem hidden away in Puttalam, Bethany 101 is a sensitively restored 170 year old manor house. Faultlessly classic, the villa offers guests elegant accommodation, inspired by an early British Colonial history. Its location is 80 miles north of Colombo, in the quiet North Western agricultural town of Puttalam, home to one of the island’s largest lagoons and famous for its salt and coconut production.

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SPECIAL OFFERS: Free Nights from Manor House Concepts

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These enticing deals and combo offers from the good people behind The Kandy House, Coco Tangalla, The Last House and Taylor’s Hill will make your honeymoon or annual family getaway that much sweeter. 

Coco Tangalla is a chic six-bedroomed villa in
Tangalle characterized by a striking black and white theme. Special Offer: Stay four nights for the price of three and six nights
for the price of four. 

Aptly named, Last House is the
architectural swan song of eminent Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Five beautiful bedrooms overlook a glittering Indian
Ocean or a small adjoining lagoon visited by exotic birds such as kingfishers
and herons. Special Offer: Stay four nights for the price of three and six nights for the price of four. 

Named after the man who introduced tea to Sri Lanka,
Taylor’s Hill is a short drive from the Loolecondera estate, on which some
of the first teas were grown in the island. Special Offer: Stay for three nights and pay for two nights.

The grand ancestral home of
one of Kandy’s most influential aristocratic families, the Kandy House sits on
6 acres in a quiet village area close to Kandy. Special Offer: Stay three nights or more on honeymoon and
enjoy up to five free gifts including bubbly, candlelit dinner, aromatherapy
and more.


Contact holidays@srilankainstyle.com for a range of holiday packages and special deals sure to complement your whims while enabling you to enjoy some peace and quiet in this wonderful escape. Conditions Apply. 

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An afternoon with Jeff Fuchs

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With just over a month to go, we’re pleased to announce that award-winning explorer, author and self-confessed tea addict Jeff Fuchs is busy prepping for the first in a series of Hosted Events,
scheduled at The Wallawwa on Saturday 23 August 2014 from 3:00pm to 5.30pm.

“Being part of this trip, and seeing it come to
fruition is a little bit of magic. Much of this journey I think was actually
‘stimulated’ by tea. This was once a thought and little else, until SriLankaInStyle
and I started speaking about all of the rich elements to include in a voyage
that would take in so much of this island. More tea was sipped, and we
journeyed along some of the trails to see what might work. Still more tea, and
this journey has come to life…” Jeff Fuchs. 

Jeff Fuchs
Join SriLankaInStyle, TEAELI and the lovely folks at The Wallawwa for a fun and insightful afternoon of tea tasting and cake! Hear about the origins and routes of Asia’s eternal green, the adventure of how tea traveled out of the ancient original homelands of tea in south-western Yunnan, its journey along the Tea Horse Road, and Jeff’s own exploration of the various strands of tea and how teas differ according to their production.



Price: Rs. 2,000/- per person (includes all Service Charge, Government taxes, sandwiches, cakes, scones and cookies, a presentation and a tea tasting with Jeff Fuchs and Dushyantha de Silva (Founder of TEAELI). Reserve a place today as space is limited! Please email enquiries@thewallawwa.com or call 0773 638 381 (office hours). Attendees are very welcome to stay for dinner and enjoy the tranquil gardens and excellent à la carte menu (sample menu available on www.thewallawwa.com. Please book a table prior to the event). Special Room Rates starting from Rs 13,650++ for a Garden Suite on B&B basis for two people (attendees only).

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PROPERTY SPOTLIGHT: Living Heritage, Koslanda

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Surrounded by the southern mountains of central Sri Lanka, scenic plantations of tea, rubber and pepper, one of Living Heritage Koslanda’s is a retreat for the weary, a holiday home that offers the luxuries of quiet and and the views of a sacred surrounding. 

This beautiful four bedroom holiday spot is just a few steps away from a secluded waterfall, a great place to spend a few hours in the morning and even have a picnic breakfast at. 

Once you’re back at the retreat, an infinity pool on an elevated ledge of the property, offers more serenity and breathtaking views of the Uva Province hills.

And when you’re ready to step back in to the warm cozy corners of the house, an attentive staff await to take care of your every need. The magic that is Living Heritage, is that it’s set on 80 acres of Deyoge Kaele’ (God’s Forest) which extends from Sri Lanka’s famous mountain Adam’s Peak to Katagarama, and right in the middle of an ancient elephant migratory route. Even today, wild elephants can be spotted crossing through for a drink at the nearby Iriwendunpola river.

The Living Heritage is a secluded base from which travelers can trek through thick jungle paths, climb nearby mountains like the Ella Gap in Bandarawela, have rivers baths or go cycling through sleepy farming towns like Monoragala (home to a large number of ancient Theraveda Buddhist temples). It among the most romantic holidays spots in the hills and it gets two thumbs up from everyone at SriLankaInStyle!

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Sri Lanka: After the war is over

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Girls on the beach. Photo: Getty Images

National Travel Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald  shares tales from his recent visit to Sri Lanka. Go here to read the full story

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PROPERTY SPOTLIGHT: Hill Rise, Nuwara Eliya

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The tastefully renovated Hill Rise is no ordinary tea planter’s house. 
Apart from the stunning location of daintily manicured gardens and the views over Gregory’s Lake, the villa’s new owners have horse racing interests and their own stables at the The Edwards Stables at Nuwara Eliya Turf Club close-by, open to visits by in-house guests at Hill Rise. 

The fully staffed house, while having undergone a modern refurbishment, is reminiscent of its grand past with dated photographs adorning the walls of racing meets at the Turf Club. The light and spacious living area has three sets of French doors that open out on to a glorious garden. Villa facilities include a flat screen TV with satellite channels, iPod music, and free WIFI throughout the property.

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Classic Mobile Camping in Stunning Locations

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Leopard Safaris camp at night
Secluded waterfall at Knuckles Mountain Range
As the rains start to fall in the south, Leopard Safaris moves operations inland and to the west at Knuckles Mountain Range and Wilpattu National Park. The classic tented, mobile camping operator is based at the borders of each location offering unforgettable experiences that allow you to enjoy the remarkable beauty of each wildlife reserve, while indulging in class comforts and service. Camping enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Leopard Safaris have added some additional touches to each of their camp sites to offer more convenience and comfort than ever before. Get in touch with holidays@srilankainstyle.com to book a holiday in the wild today!
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