Imagine checking into a luxurious five-star resort deep in the Sri Lankan jungle. As you arrive at Heritance Kandalama, your porter whispers a remarkable piece of advice: “Keep the sliding glass door to your private balcony locked.” Curiosity piqued, you inquire further. To your astonishment, the porter reveals that mischievous monkeys have learned to open them by repeatedly throwing themselves against the latch. Welcome to the wild side of Sri Lanka!
A Mysterious Encounter
Against the porter’s warning, you can’t resist the temptation to feed the monkeys, sneaking a pack of potato chips from the minibar. Stepping onto the balcony, you place a single chip on the railing. In a matter of seconds, a reddish-brown toque macaque monkey emerges from the dense foliage, snatching the chip. The monkey, emboldened by its snack, boldly swats at you with its paw. Undeterred, you shoo it away, realizing it’s best to keep the minibar treasures to yourself.
Serenity Amidst the Wilderness
Nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, the 152-room Kandalama resort takes its name from the serene lake on which it stands. Surrounded by nature’s breathtaking beauty, this ultimate glamping experience is a gateway to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from the occasional mongoose and a distant view of the formidable Sigiriya rock formation, the area feels almost deserted, with the monkeys reigning supreme.
A Sustainable Oasis
When renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa first proposed the hotel in the early 1990s, critics feared the project would harm the pristine environment. However, Bawa’s unwavering commitment to sustainability ensured that Kandalama became the world’s first LEED-certified hotel. The entire complex rests on a raised platform, allowing rainwater to flow beneath it into the lake. Waste water is carefully treated and recycled, green roofs adorned with native vegetation thrive, and a vast forest was planted nearby to compensate for the trees felled during construction. The hotel’s walls are hidden beneath a tapestry of dense vines, providing the monkeys with the freedom to explore their jungle paradise.
A Journey into Ancient Grandeur
As you approach Kandalama, it appears as if an ancient palace is being gradually consumed by the encroaching jungle. The winding road leads to what seems like the mouth of a cave, where you’re greeted at the open-air reception desk. A narrow passage, seemingly carved into the rock itself, guides you to an outdoor patio. Here, you’re treated to a refreshing glass of fresh-squeezed papaya juice while your luggage is seamlessly transported to your room. The opulence continues within the hotel’s walls – open-air lounges, three enchanting pools (including an infinity pool overlooking the lake), and a world-class restaurant await, where lavish buffets are served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Luxurious Indulgence, Wild Encounters
The hotel’s rooms are renowned for their all-glass showers, offering an unparalleled experience of observing monkeys in their natural habitat while you lather, rinse, and repeat. Rest assured, the shower’s design ensures your privacy, allowing only the captivating wildlife to be part of your morning routine. After a day of adventure, the balcony becomes your haven for witnessing stunning sunsets, accompanied by a glass of arrack, a local liquor made from fermented coconut or a Lion Lager from the minibar. Additional amenities, including a gym, spa, and library, await your indulgence. Embark on bird-watching or elephant-watching excursions, or explore the nearby historic sites that dot the region.
The Journey to Untamed Beauty
Reaching Kandalama is an adventure in itself. If you choose to fly into Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, an hour north of Colombo, you’ll need to hire a driver for a scenic five-hour journey to the town of Dambulla. From here, a picturesque thirty-minute drive along a narrow dirt road leads you to the remote hotel. Driving in Sri Lanka may be daunting, so it’s advisable to enlist the expertise of a local driver. Alternatively, for those seeking an authentic experience, a budget-friendly option is to take a public bus from Colombo. While cramped and lacking air-conditioning, it will test your resilience and reward you with lasting memories. No matter the mode of transport, the destination justifies the effort.
DHPL Travels invites you to escape into the untamed beauty of the Sri Lankan jungle. Immerse yourself in the jungle’s enchanting wonders and experience the harmony between luxury and nature. Book your extraordinary retreat at visitsrilankanow.net and embark on a wild adventure you’ll cherish forever.