By Anton D. Javier
It was the tail end of our Sri Lanka trip when I came across a passage from a 19th century book (reproduction, not original) in my room in Cape Weligama, which perfectly described the country: “It is literally smothered in verdant luxuriance, which heaped, massed, and jumbled together in indescribable profusion; is barely restrained within its natural limits by the envious waves of the opposing ocean.”
Sri Lanka, as you can tell, is teeming with life. Further away from Colombo’s frenzy, the country is a vision of green, with gigantic anthuriums and caladiums, towering coconut trees, and vast fields of tea bushes everywhere you look. All this is framed by the Indian Ocean, offering both residents and visitors access to some of the best seaside views in the world.
But beyond the seemingly endless green and blue hues, a technicolor Sri Lankan adventure awaits if you know where to go. Together with luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel and Resplendent Ceylon, a company that manages luxury properties in the country, we discovered that Sri Lanka has something for everyone—whether it’s a relaxing stay up in a tea plantation, a wild safari, or a seaside escape.
Escape to the Tea Trails
Old world English luxury comes to life at the Ceylon Tea Trails, which is located at an altitude of 1,250 meters near Hatton in central Sri Lanka. The property is comprised of five colonial style bungalows built between 1888 and 1950 and is located within an extensive 2,000 acres of tea country. Situated between Castlereagh Lake and Bogawantalawa valley, expect the views from each Tea Trails bungalow to be picture perfect.
Luxurious accommodations, thoughtful amenities, sitting rooms, and manicured gardens aside, it is the details that make Tea Trails stand out. High tea and cocktail hour are observed everyday, allowing guests to catch up or simply enjoy a more civilized way of slowing down. Every meal here is attended to by an in-house chef, while a personal butler ensures that everything you might need or want is at your disposal.
Beyond the bungalows, spend your day walking through stunning English-style gardens where you can enjoy a game of croquet, lazing by the pool sipping on gin and tonics or freshly brewed tea, or learning more about the popular beverage at a nearby tea plantation and production facility.
A Glamping and Safari Adventure
Situated within Yala National Park is Resplendent Ceylon’s newest property: Wild Coast Tented Lodge. Wild does not even begin to describe the place, with its back-to-nature outlook, starting with the wildlife surrounding you. Don’t be surprised when you come face to face with wild boars, playful monkeys, and the occasional elephant wandering around—you are within a national park after all.
But what takes your breath away is Wild Coast Tented Lodge’s overall design, which was conjured up by Nomadic Resorts, a consortium of Sri Lankan, Dutch, and English designers. What you get to call home during your stay here is a glamorous safari camp that elevates the concept of glamping with its 28 tented “cocoon suites”, fitted with curved vaulted ceilings, four-poster beds, copper bathtubs, teak flooring, and in some cases, a private plunge pool. Meanwhile, the open-air bar and restaurant was designed to mirror the boulders scattered across the nearby beach and is complemented by a free-form swimming pool that wraps around the entire structure.
To complete the safari experience at Wild Coast Tented Lodge, expert naturalist guides take guests on a journey to the deepest corners of the National Park early in the morning to meet with one of its most famous residents—the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. After driving around for a few hours, we were lucky enough to spot one sleeping up in a tree, so don’t forget to look up.
Tropical Paradise Awaits
With the Indian Ocean right at your doorstep, Cape Weligama is one of the best beach resorts you’ll have the pleasure of staying at. Located south of Galle Fort in Sri Lanka’s south coast, and perched on a cliff-top site, the place is a haven for those with a sense of adventure. Water activities are aplenty here, starting with kayaking, surfing, and if the weather cooperates, whale watching.
Set within 12 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, Cape Welligama boasts a mere 39 private villas designed by renowned architect Lek Bunnag (whose resume include projects like the Four Seasons Langkawi, Maia Seychelles, and Ritz-Carlton Phulay Bay). The spacious accommodations feature tasteful tropical decor in rich color combinations like yellow and blue or ochre and cream. Should you choose to lounge at the villa’s terrace, take comfort in the surrounding tropical flora and fauna, as well as the roaring waves of the surrounding ocean.
The property is something of a culinary destination as well, what with the abundance of fresh seafood right at their doorstep. Discover a variety of Sri Lankan and international dishes at Ocean Terrace, a picturesque cliff-edge alfresco restaurant. Finally, catch a glimpse of a sunset like no other as you enjoy cocktails at the Colony Club.