Amanwella, Sri Lanka
Set in its on private palm fringed turquoise bay the Amanwella is one of those breath taking spots in Tangalle that is the ultimate in eco escapism. A modern yet warm suite only hotel, inspired by the great Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, is perched below the palms and above the azure waves below. True to its name derived from the Singhalese name for beach 'wella', meaning 'peaceful beach'. A tranquil and tropical paradise set on the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
Arriving through a small red earth road that winds through the village of Wella Wathura you emerge outside the minimalist entrance where locally fired terracotta tiles mirror the rust toned hues below your feet. The understated lines and luxury works to compliment the sparkling white curved beach and rich green and blues of the ocean and landscape it is enveloped within. It is an intimate suite only property with twenty seven private pool rooms overlooking the gardens or ocean. The rest of the resort is laid out in low level contemporary clean lines complimenting but not detracting from the beauty of this natural setting.
Walking through to the main courtyard past the lounge and library you emerge at an incredible infinity pool with one of the most majestic views in the world. An aquatic centrepiece that is perfectly positioned with views over the Indian Ocean and the dazzling bay beyond. Lounging or swimming by the pool soaking up the scenery is one of the most memorable moments of the Amanwella. A short stroll from the pool along the sad or a quick ride in the hotel tuk tuk zooming down the paths will take you to the Coconut Grove Beach Club. This is a small modern restaurant and that leads to sun loungers sprinkled over the sand and under the palms. The sea is clear and calm and enticing hues of blue. Boogy or surf boards are available, games for the kids for a perfect day on this private beach.
Heading back to your spacious suite you can have a quick dip in your pool or make use of the large private verandas with views waves crashing below or rolling grass down to the bay. Open plan in a contemporary design yet touches of Sri Lankan craftsmanship, such as the wooden carved sliding shutters and built from local stone, wood and clay. Modern and artisanal touches blend to create a vast and comfortable space with the bedroom flowing into bathrooms and out to the pool or outdoor living areas. The warm wood is offset by cool creams and muted greens that enhance the beauty of the vivid colours of nature that encapsulate you in your private sanctuary within the property.
This is definitely a perfect place to unwind and totally escape the stresses of the modern world during the day. Whether it be lounging in your private pool, reading a book by the pool or soaking up the sun in the beach club. This is a property that encourages relaxation in total comfort. Huge baths stand in the middle of your suite to soak and open your shutters to take in the panorama or stare up at the stars. For the ultimate in relaxation you can have a traditional Ayurvedic head massage at the spa to calm the mind and rebalance stresses throughout the the spine and body. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine originating in India over two thousand years ago in India and has long been used throughout South Asia to treat a plethora of ailments effectively. Yoga is an integral part of this practice and guided sessions can be arranged at the seaside platform.
Although it is tempting to never leave the property this area is famous for its terracotta pottery with painted designs. Pottery is an ancient tradition in Si Lanka dating back to 1120BC, and today this craft is carried on throughout the country. Painted designs started very simply and then evolved to more intricate designs with birds, leafs and flowers. During the 18th and 19th Centuries the designs were more influenced by colonisation but the original methods are preserved by creaftmen today. Guests can experience this age old tradition with a visit to the workshop of master potter B. Karunasena so you can see how his family's famous designs are created and then try your hand at creating your piece. This is a wonderful insight into the rich artisanal history of this magical island.
Heading to the restaurant for dinner at the end of the day, gazing up the remoteness gives a perfect view of the stars shining above without the interference of light, and stretches so far it is difficult to tell where the sky ends and the lights of fishing boats on the horizon begin. Naturally this also means seafood plays a major part of the menu and is freshly caught everyday. Ingredients are sourced from the local fishermen and locally eliminating food miles and supporting the surrounding farmers. There is a large choice of international and local dishes on the nightly set menu from Fish & Chips to rich aromatic Sri Lankan prawn curry. All are executed perfectly with the use of local herbs and spices to create culinary excellence and a delicious indulgent delights.
There are so many tranquil spots to relax throughout the property, the library is a particularly soothing spot. A comfortable modern small air conditioned annexe it also has a wealth of interesting books on Sri Lanka and design. The hotel has havens scattered throughout this amazing hidden gem made up of emerald, sapphire and topaz hues throughout nature and architecture. The people are also warm and friendly from all the staff to the passing shell seller on the beach or the people in the village, who are all happy to tell you about the local area, nature and history of the area. Placed perfectly on one of the most scenic and stunning beaches on this coastline, working sympathetically and in symbiosis with nature and the locals, this is an essential eco escape to visit in Sri Lanka.
Photos Courtesy of Aman Resorts & Electra Gillies