Sri Lanka is still a precious and somewhat underestimated destination. If you want to discover the sensational beaches, inside-track eateries and secrets of the island, there’s no better place to stay than Amari Galle…
Situated just off the coast of India, Sri Lanka is a beautiful and captivating island filled with invisible worlds, cultures and traditions. A long civil war, government unrest and the tragedy of the 2004 Tsunami has meant a host of bad hands being dealt to the country, but it has come back fighting and as I visit I find it a place of enormous potential. Sri Lanka Hotels are still up and coming and I am on my trip to celebrate the opening of the new Amari Galle, a new addition to the Amari Hotel group who already have Hotels in Thailand, Qatar, Bangladesh and Maldives. It’s about a three hour transfer from Columbo airport and along this way you get to see all sides of the Island.
Sri Lanka is both mesmerising and captivating, offering a pared back version of the mania in some of the main Indian cities. It’s vibrant, perplexing and fascinating, with lush greenlands paving the way to dusty side streets, markets and bustling towns. It’s somewhat tumultuous past has meant the countries transport links have not been modernised in a particularly systematic way, but tuk tuk’s are a common way to get around (a must-try on your visit) or there are buses and taxis though it’s advised to check routes with the Hotel (Amari can also organise transportation for you.)
The new Hotel is hidden on the coast of the ancient city of Galle, surrounded by lush palm trees and sandy beaches.
“Amari Galle stands proud as one of the Island’s most cutting-edge retreats for those in search of discovery…”
It is an oasis of calm and a haven of tranquillity, offering functionality with traditionality. It sits right on the seafront, with swaying palm trees, golden sands and a sea view that stretches on for miles. The sea, much as with the island itself, is imbued with a sprightly edge, meaning the sounds of softly breaking waves lends itself as a backdrop to your stay.
The Hotel offers audacious grandeur; it’s soothing as it is practical, with a spiritual luxury woven deep into its core. The lobby which greets you is a sleek open space, with decadent water features and sleek sofas overlooking the beach and pool. The 172 rooms are relatively simple, exuding modern comfort with subtle interior elements reflecting Sri Lankan art and architecture.
Amari Galle Hotel: The Rooms
There are a few different room options at Amari Galle, from the deluxe ocean view room, to a one bedroom suite to the overtly grand presidential suite (you can check the prices here). During my stay I was in the deluxe ocean view room – a beautiful choice for your destination.
The bed is large and inviting, with soft white bedding and aquamarine cushions- reminiscent of the jewelled coloured ocean just beyond. Large glass balcony doors can be thrown open to a spacious balcony leaving you to fall asleep to the sounds of the waves and soft local birdsong. The views are so stunning they beg to be unpacked long before your suitcase; the coloured hotel exterior borders one side, the pool below and then golden sands littered with palm trees hold hands with a softly breaking turquoise ocean.
The bathroom is large and spacious, with a separate toilet and shower and large sink. The floor can be slippery, so be sure to place the bath mat down after a shower. Extras in the room really make it special – a plate of local cakes in the room on arrival, a hand-written welcome card and a woven Amari beach bag. Staff can’t do enough and are friendly without being over-imposing.
Dining at Amari Galle
Amari Galle offers good choice for dining, with their buffet restaurant offering a wide selection of dishes from curries to more classic cuisine such as potatoes and chicken. The restaurant takes inspiration from the rich street food of the region, the sounds of chicken sizzling, rice boiling and sauces swirling all offer an insight to the rich foodie culture of Galle. The cooking station allows you to watch the chefs at work and really offers the chance to experience the delicious flavours of Asia. It overlooks the pool and as day winds to night it is a magical place to relax and share fine wine and fine food with friends and family.
If you are looking for something a little more intimate for dining or for after-dinner drinks, you need to head to Bommu Rooftop Bar on the top floor (the name literally means ‘let’s have a drink’) and is the ideal setting to unwind and relax. Both ambient and beautiful, it offers panoramic views of Galle and the ocean beyond, it’s plush armchairs and elegant lighting offering the perfect respite. As for the drinks, many of the options on Bommu Bar’s menu are a step away from your average tipple. There are unique smoked cocktails and twists the on classics such as martini’s and daiquiri’s – they can also make cocktails you request (provided they have the ingredients available.)
For lunch you can either stick to the main restaurant or eat at the pool bar for more relaxed offerings such as sandwiches, burgers or pizza.
Amari Galle Hotel: The Pool
The pool at Amari Galle is a majestic haven of relaxation. Intriguingly shaped, it is centered by the canopied pool bar with snacks and cocktails. A swim-up lounge bed is both aesthetically and physically pleasing, undeniably comfortable and in prime spot for sunbathing, people watching and dipping in the pool for a cool down. The swimming pool is one of the Hotel’s real highlights and plush loungers and cabana’s provide day-long comfort. You are also given a button when you sit down which you just have to press if you would like anything and someone will come straight to your lounger.
Amari Galle Hotel: The Spa
The spa at Amari Galle is a sensual experience, with treatments which are decadent and indulgent but also results driven. For a massage you can choose on how you want to leave feeling, from relaxed to invigorated, each unique treatment is aligned with a carefully chosen body treatment or massage technique. There are also a range of other treatments such as pedicures and manicures – in a room overlooking the impressive grounds of the hotel, to scrubs and facials. The spa is a tranquil setting on the ground floor of the Hotel and even before your treatments begins you are transported to another realm of relaxation. Soft music plays, the decor is light and airy and imbued with traditional Asian touches and you are offered a cold towel and tea to unwind with. The treatments are supremely indulgent yet without an enormously hefty price tag – an hour long mood massage is 8,000 Rupees (the equivalent to approx. £38) and body scrubs begin at 6,500 Rupees (approx. £32.) The Galle Ceylon resort package is crafted of a bouquet of the country’s local spices – a marriage of tea leaves, aromatic cinnamon and vanilla, a holistic and delicious experience which leaves your skin beautifully soft. View the spa treatment menu here and find the treatment for you.
The Area and things to do
There is an abundance of things to do outside the resort on your visit to Galle. Just a short drive away is Galle Fort, built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It now hosts an array of shops and restaurants as well as a library and museum; the colourful streets are the perfect way to while away the day . If you’re a wildlife fan you can head off whale watching on a boat tour or try the local cuisine in a number of beachfront restaurants. The Japanese peace Pagoda is also only a short walk away and jungle beach is well worth a visit for a livelier seafront experience. Our full travel guide to Sri Lanka is coming soon- Sign up to our newsletter here to be the first to see it.
Amari Galle is your key to a real hidden gem of a destination and a place you will far for – hard. It’s a place of tranquillity in a city of rural charm and unrivalled beauty, lush green landscape and bustling towns and picturesque shores with dusty sands. Take yourself away from your traditional summer destinations and set on a path to discover the undiscovered – you won’t regret it.
Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762 456, www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk) is offering a five night break to Sri Lanka with prices starting from £899 per person – a saving of up to £166 per person. The offer includes five nights for the price of four at Amari Galle Sri Lanka on a bed and breakfast basis. This offer also includes return international flights from London Heathrow with Sri Lankan Airlines. Based on departures 08 May 2018. Ring to book. For more information visit www.amari.com/galle-srilanka