SRI LANKA OPENS FOR TOURISM FROM 01 AUGUST 2020
SRI LANKA – the island of Paradise in the Indian Ocean, is ready to welcome global travelers from all countries starting from Aug 1, 2020 following the country’s successful containment of COVID-19. (Subject to Sri Lanka Extension and change in dates of opening due to prevailing global COVID-19 situation).
On a continuous stretch, it’s a total of about 4 hours journey from COLOMBO to HAMBANTOTA covering about 340 kms along the picturesque coastal highway E-01.
Our chauffeur/ guide: Waruna pick us up on time from our abode in Colombo and we begin our journey towards our first stop at WASKADUWA spending the night at the CITRUS HOTEL – the newest in this area. The nearest un-spoilt golden sand beach retreat, about two hours (37 kms subject to traffic and road condition) from the hustle of Colombo on the West-coast, Citrus Hotel give a feel of refined level of luxury, blended in the warm colors of Sri Lankan hospitality and service excellence.
We are allocated a superior ocean view room on the upper floor of the high rise building with a total of 150 rooms (including 8 suites, a Deluxe Suite and a Presidential Suite) – all well appointed with high-end amenities including in-room tea and coffee making facility. The beach with a lesser crowd, fine dining restaurant and the huge lawn area with an antique Beetle car showcases the distinguishing features of this 5-Star bed-down.
The Hotel’s restaurants, Coffee and drinking lounges will keep you on the grounds of Citrus through your holidays. The all-day Lemon Sun Restaurant is the venue for wholly nutritious breakfast and lay out stimulating variety of food at buffet lunches and dinner with an innovative concept in food preparation. The restaurant serves international cuisines including classic Sri Lankan curries and traditional dishes.
Pips n Sip’s Coffee Shop and drinking lounge with a glass enclosure near the pool area is an ideal haunt for evening cocktails and bar-food. The Hotel also caters wedding functions, and organizes conferences and events at its spacious banquet halls and out-door garden. http://citrusleisure.com/waskaduwa/
The next day, we proceed toward WELIGAMA BAY past by BENTOTA, GALLE historic town, stopping by small towns and interesting vintage points with spectacular ocean view in the forefront swaying coconut trees and crushing waves along certain stretches of rocky shoreline.
Galle (pronounced Goal) has remained Sri Lanka’s ancient port for 200 years since the construction of the Fort in the 17cAD. Walking the bastion wall offers impressive views of the ocean, the Fort and the old town.
On arrival at Weligama Bay, we receive a warm welcome at the MANDARA BOUTIQUE RESORT. Hidden in a blanket of lush forest and coconut palms, the Resort is an environmental friendly, below-the-tree-line luxury in a paradise setting, making it a great retreat for leisure and adventure holidays.
On arrival, a groove of dancing coconut trees by the pool greet us while we are served welcome drink by our cordial hosts with a genuine Sri Lankan smile. We check- in to our spacious Seaside – Superior Room facing the Indian Ocean; one of the room in other categories, which includes Standard Riverside Rooms and Deluxe rooms with Jacuzzi and each, generously fitted with all possible creature comforts that one can think of at this 5- Star hotel.
While enjoying the stunning view of the sea from the balcony of my room, the house-keeping brings in a large portion of fruit basket, with the compliments of the host, topped with a variety of seasonal fruits, in particularly, lusciously sweet papaya – a delightful treat on the Island that has got me addicted.
Fine-Dining at the Resort’s Restaurant is an indulgence into a gourmet experience. Mangala Premadasa – the Executive Chef introduce the appealing menu which has a variety of favorite platters from different kitchens around the world, including tangy Sri Lankan curries and seafood. We enthusiastically take the chef’s recommendation for a 4-course culinary journey. The Restaurant is very reasonably priced and you won’t find a better table in the vicinity.
The Spa area is located in the Riverside wing of the Resort. A place to rejuvenate after a long active day. The menu offers a variety of therapy treatment and massage for completer relaxation, including facial by well trained masseurs, using natural essential oil and high quality facial beauty product. A ½ hour Facial treatment opens blocked pores, promote better blood, thus good for healthy skin and a feel of freshness at the end of the treatment.
Next to Weligama Bay, the harbor town: MIRISSA is famed for whale watching. The Resort can help arrange transport to the boat pier and recommend a local tour company that organize whale watch day trip. http://www.mandararesort.com
After a few nights at this charming Resort, we move on toward HAMBANTOTA making several stopovers, visiting beautiful Buddhist temples and sighting sublime beaches along small village towns.
There were concerns over road block ahead due to over flowing rivers after 4-day continuous rain, which affected the interior region, claiming some 150 life and damaging houses and property. Heavy heartedly, we arrived at our next abode.
A pleasant check in at the Shangri-La Hambantota Beach Resort and Spa – we are escorted to our luxury room lavishly fitted with lifestyle amenities.
Here, we settled down for a few days in the Premier Ocean room, one of the room categories at the Resort’s 300 rooms and suites, each fitted with state-of-the-art technology and ultimate comfort with 5-star creature comforts, and every room has a spacious bath room with designer bath amenities.
At this magnificent place with a professional Golf Course, we experience first-hand, a new level of luxury in comfort and relaxation, meticulously designed using indigenous material blended in contemporary style, charmed with Sri Lankan hospitality and excursion to nearby tourist attractions.
A journey through its culinary corridors at the Resort’s many Restaurants and Restaurant-Bar Lounges, including All-Day Dining BONJUNHALA Restaurant; SERA Restaurant serves cuisines from some of the favourite home-made recipes of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore; ULPATHA Bar Lounge with large TV screens and a snooker table overlooking the waterhole on the spacious Golf Course and GIMANHALA: an airy open space lounge overlooking the impressive main pool – next to the kid’s playing area and the beach in the distance, ideal for High-Tea as well as a nightcap by candle-light just before retiring for the day. Afternoon tea is served with finest brand of Ceylon tea and a selection of sandwiches, yummy pastries and home-made cookies.
The Chi Ayurveda Spa at the Resort is a place to rejuvenate and seek personal vitality. “Chi” (or Qi) is “the universal life force that governs well being”. A one hour Aroma Therapy relieves physical and mental stress and allows the body and mind to relaxation. The use of highly concentrated essential oil derived from plants help improving psychological or physical well being. Essential oil is absorbed through skin during a full body massage and the smell promotes beneficial change in the mind and the body “by (affecting) the limbic system – a region of the brain known to influence the nervous system”.
On the way back to Colombo, we rough up our journey and travel on a local bus to get a native travel experience. It has been raining but on arrival to Colombo, the rain had stop and we spend a night here at the capital before taking on the wings of Sri Lankan Airline homeward bound. http://www.srilankan.com/