Published on Monday, October 30, 2017

Eco retreat in Sri Lanka's cinnamon heartland

Vicki Powers gets away from it all and enjoys a soothing spa break at Sri Lanka's eco-friendly Hotel Tri - but misses her kettle.

About 45 minutes' drive from Galle Fort on Sri Lanka's hair-raising roads, this boutique eco-hotel is deep in thick countryside. The journey is worth the effort. Overlooking the glassy expanse of Koggala, Sri Lanka's largest natural lake, Hotel Tri's eight high-spec villas are practically hidden among the lush foliage. Villas are dotted in a spiral pattern from the central water tower, an eye-catching oval edifice clad in cinnamon sticks, a homage to the hotel's location in Sri Lanka's cinnamon heartland.

First impressions
You'll be immediately impressed by the sight of the aforementioned tower and 200-year old banyan tree that share the same plateau. The mighty tree is what clinched the deal for proprietor Rob Drummond, a British developer, when he bought the overgrown piece of land 14 years ago. Because villas are secreted into the dense foliage, guests arrive at the hotel's main house, a sleek, open-air restaurant and bar area built of local jak wood and stone, offering a view over the lake of which you'll never tire. Alongside runs a 21-metre infinity pool that seems to extend out into the lake, with sun loungers dotted around. An army of polite young men in shorts are always on hand to offer drinks or help with luggage.

Rooms in the high-ceilinged villas are without doors, so they flow into each other and are tastefully minimalist, with natural stone, slate and upcycled wood. Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors keep the rooms flooded with natural light and ensure you catch sigh inducing sunrises and sunsets. A strong router in each villa ensures you can stay connected, but beware, there are no TVs, minibars or coffee-makers - room service will deliver what you want. Wide, comfy beds and bouncy pillows ensure you'll sleep deeply until a chorus of exotic bird calls start up next morning. My Lake Villa had its own plunge pool and sun loungers, where I could retreat to enjoy ultimate privacy.

Wining and dining
Food, served at the Main House, is fresh Sri Lankan fusion and utterly lovely. Although breakfast is multiple courses, I had room for just the (enormous) exotic fruit platter and muesli one day, and the lentil dahl and egg curry the next, both delicious. An - la carte menu is on offer, but for dinner take advantage of the six-course Sri Lankan fusion taster menu featuring delights such as tobacco and cinnamon roasted chicken and sweet potato gudumbah, a delicious coconut pastry served as a pre dessert.

Leisure time
I had a full body massage at the hotel's spa that soothed away my aches and pains. It was reasonably priced at roughly £50 for 60 minutes. The spa is in an elegant building in a bamboo grove, which also houses an airconditioned library that doubles as a conference venue, and an open-sided yoga shala (although no classes were on offer when I visited). The main house has myriad cubby holes, loungers and sofas for hanging by the pool, and the hotel offers boat and bike excursions to a cinnamon island and tea plantation.

The combination of high-end healthy Sri Lankan food and stylish accommodation will leave you feeling oh so relaxed and pampered. The lush natural setting provides views of which you'll never tire.

For families
Over 12s only at this resort, and it's only suitable for teens who can occupy themselves. Lake swimming is offl imits due to the threat of crocodiles, but only 15 minutes away is Kabalana beach, a famous surf spot and shallow a long way out.

Small quibbles, but as an early riser and coffee junkie, I missed having a coffee machine in my room, although a kettle, tea bags and instant coffee were brought in at my request. I would have liked a mini-fridge, too, to chill the fresh filtered water provided.

A luxury getaway in which to indulge yourself in stunning natural surroundings and in utmost privacy. The greenery and the peace, the discreet service and top-flight food and drink combine to ensure a memorable, relaxing holiday away from it all.

Rates: Double rooms from $325, half board.


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