Cozy Ceylon

Текст: 
Zhanna Naumenko
Фото: 
архив Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort&Spa

For the past 9 years, our editorial staff has visited 29 Shangri-La Hotel hotels around the world. “The jubilee, thirtieth hotel should be in a special place,” – that’s how we decidedand went to study the world map. The ideal option isSri Lanka. This country fascinates with views of tea plantations and attracts with its sandy beaches.

History-steeped past

Sri Lanka or Ceylon, as the Portuguese christened this island in the 16th century, has a greathistory of two thousand years. So, until the XII century, the island was ruled by Sinhalese – the residents of modern India, it was then that Buddhism became the dominant religion, to which most Sri Lankans still worship. The island of elephants attracted seafarers with deposits of precious stones and growing spices, so Portugal soon captured it. Then itpassed into the hands of the Dutch, until 1802whenitbecame the official colony of the British Empire. From the British, the island inherited a language that is still considered the main interethnic language of Sri Lanka. In 1948, the country moved into the category of dominions, never having received complete freedom, and only in 1972 the regime changed. A new independent state has appeared on the political map of the world - the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Despite such an interesting story, ancient monuments are rare on the island. Sri Lanka impresses with its pristine nature, where animals and people live in peace and harmony, and several man-made attractions neatly fit into the landscape, decorating the overallpicture. This place is supposedly created in order to escape from the hustle to relaxbythe ocean. This is exactly what we were looking for.

Getting to know the hotel

Two hotels of our beloved Shangri-La Hotel chain are located in Sri Lanka: one is on the coast in the town of Hambatota, the other is in the capital of the island, Colombo metropolis. It is very comfortable. First you can enjoy the wildlife and the wild ocean in the southern part of the country, and then smoothly merge into the urban rhythm of life, walking through shopping centers or tourist streets. At the same time, both measured and active recreation have one thing in common - the atmosphere of home comfort and warmth that awaits you at the hotel.

Having landedat Colombo International Airport, we immediately headed to the ocean, intothe city of Khambatota. Therefore,weended up at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo only two weeks later. A huge building of 32 floors majestically rises above the rest of the buildings. Already at the entrance you can smell Shangri-La - the hotel chain has its own unique flavor, which over the years has become a guarantee of quality service. The hotel has 541 rooms, and each offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Lake Beira or the city skyline. The building has six restaurants and bars for anytaste. Each of them deserves special attention, but the Sri Lankan cuisine restaurant Kaema Sutra has taken over our hearts. The chef of the restaurant - the world famous Dharshan Munidasa - was the first to bring Ceylon to the international culinary arena. The spices that he uses in his dishes have grown on the island for centuries. You can not remain indifferent to the bar of this place. Unique cocktails, combining fresh Sri Lankan fruits and specific spices, won the hearts of more than one thousand tourists. The restaurant is decorated in ethnic style: masks on the walls bringus back to ancient folk tales, carved elephants remind us of the charmof the island, and the general atmosphere immerses you in a tropical paradise right there in the center of the metropolis.Add to this the huge windows overlooking the Indian Ocean, and you would not want to leave this place. In addition to the national cuisine restaurant located on the fourth floor of the hotel, there is a huge CHI Ayurveda Spa, which occupies more than 800 square meters. It includes seven private areas for a relaxing break. The name “CHI” was not given to the spa by accident, but in honor of the Chinese philosophy of the same name. Chi is the universal life force that rules human well-being. Therefore, all spa procedures are aimed at removing energy locks. Body massage, physical exercises, stretching, hydrotherapy and meditative practices help the body renew itself and tune in to individual healing.

The hotel has a swimming pool with ocean views, a fitness center and many shopping areas, one of which opened right before our eyes. On the day of check in by a twist of fate,we were lucky to get to the opening of the first elite shopping center in Colombo. The ceremony took place right on the hotel grounds, 300 invited guests took part in it, including the President of Sri Lanka. And in order to make all visitors satisfied, the event was served by 700 hotel employees. The foundersof Shangri-La Hotel generally spend huge resources on the development of Sri Lanka. For example, a new high-speed highway from Colombo to the south coast is under construction right now. Soon the trip to the best sandy beaches will be 2.5 hours shorter.

Caring Sri Lankans

All the delights of the hotel do not cost anything without the care and warmth that the staff gives you. You can already feel it at the airport. Usually, when you arrive to another country, you are looking for a sign with your last name in the crowd. And only employees of Shangri-La Hotel are the first to meet you, as if they feel the guest in you. Amazingly, the staff remembers the tastes of each guest. Everyone knows that Ceylon is the world capital of tea. And, of course, locals prepare hundreds of varieties of this drink. Every morning, our waiter advised us a new variety of tea, remembering unmistakably which compositions we had already tried. And once, when we ate outside on the terrace, one of the cooks was guarding our table during the whole breakfast time keeping off the peacocks that were fed by guests. Locals treat their guests not as they are their work, but as thery are their dear friends.

Instead of a thousand words

A relaxing holiday on the shores of the endless Indian Ocean, trips to tea plantations, quiet fishing or an extreme safari - Ceylon will surely captivate even the most sophisticated tourists. Here, modernity is faced with centuries-old traditions, and man falls into the arms of nature. Instead of reading a thousand times about the enchanting Sri Lanka, it’s worth at least once to be there.

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