Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka
What are you supposed to do with your own personal butler? I ponder this as he shows me around my room and asks me if I need anything. The first thing I think of is asking for a map. Describing this as a ‘room’ probably isn’t fair – it’s larger than most apartments and I’m worried I might get lost.
I’ve just checked into Sri Lanka’s latest luxury hotel, Cape Weligama. It’s on the south coast of the country, positioned on a headland with views out across the water and the beaches in every direction. It’s about 30 minutes drive from the World Heritage List town of Galle, close enough for sightseeing but far enough to feel like a sanctuary.
Cap Weligama has been a long time coming. It is the second hotel in Sri Lanka opened by Resplendent Ceylon, a tourism company owned by the famous Dilmah tea family. Their first one, Ceylon Tea Trails – in the tea plantations near Nuwara Eliya – has been open for a decade and has a reputation as one of the best boutique offerings in the country. There are high hopes for this new venture.
Cape Weligama has 40 villas and suites spread out over about 5 hectares. The layout has been carefully designed so that each one has a certain level of privacy. As I stand on the front terrace of my suite, the first thing I notice is that there are about ten chairs of different sizes… this is probably not the right place for a solo traveller. But then I take in the view. The resorted has a terrace-style design so you can see to the coast from almost everywhere. I can see the beach and the rocky headland at the far end, the communal family pool is down near the bottom of the resort, there are a few other villas further up and then right in front of me is the large pool that I’ll be sharing with two other villas.
Have a look at this ‘sphere’ that I made from this vantage point, and scroll around to get the whole 360 degree view.
Inside my suite, there are two large sections – both as big as each other with a central entrance hall between. The first area is the bedroom with a king size bed, couch, writing desk and reading chair. The design has a slight colonial feel blended with light coastal colours. The second area is the bathroom which has separate rooms for the shower and WC and a large bath and double sink in the main section. Two of the walls are made up of just windows (with blinds, don’t worry) so the sun can stream in during the morning and the views follow you inside.
I take a wander around the resort in the afternoon after I’ve settled in. A staff member in a buggy offers to drive me (which tells you something about the size) but I’m enjoying the cool breeze on my face coming up from the coast. I find the central area of Cape Weligama where there’s a restaurant with large open windows and terrace seating. A smaller and cosier bar is next to it, offering drinks and high tea in the afternoon.
A short walk later and I arrive at the ‘moon pool’, the hemispherical infinity pool that looks out directly to the ocean. Underneath it is a gym and another bar that opens in the evenings. I don’t go in the opposite direction this time, but if I had walked down the hill I would have found the family pool and another bar and traditional restaurant.
Cape Weligama is trying to establish itself as one of the best luxury boutique options in Sri Lanka. One of the aims is to position the property as an alternative to the Maldives, where many tourists spend the last few days of a trip to Sri Lanka. The luxury, the nearby beaches and the persona (but relaxed) service is all part of that. It’s the kind of place that you don’t need to leave if you’re looking simply for relaxation. It’s close enough to some of Sri Lanka’s best tourist attractions if you feel like some daytrips. Or you can just walk along the nearby beaches – beautiful enough in themselves, as you can see from my photos here.
Not surprisingly, Cape Weligama doesn’t come cheap – although it is much more reasonable than I expected. The cheapest villa starts at US$705 in the peak season and U$570 in the low season. The top accommodation on the site – the Cape Weligama Residence – starts at US$1415 in the peak season and US$1100 in the low season.
One of the nice aspects of the rates is that they include two meals, free drinks, laundry and all taxes. It means I don’t feel too guilty opening up the minibar on my first night at Cape Weligama, pouring myself a glass of wine, and watching the sunlight fade over the water as I prepare for dinner in the main restaurant. I could get used to this…
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Cape Weligama but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.
* Photo credits: Sebastian Posingis on behalf of Cape Weligama