Christian Stan, at 11 Jun. 16, in Hotels, Ocean View Hotels, Where to go next

The 300-room beachfront Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa opened this week on a 145-acre former coconut plantation on the southern coastline of Sri Lanka. The President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, officiated at the launch, joined by guests from Colombo and the local community to mark the arrival of a new standard of luxury in the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”.


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Nestled beside the Indian Ocean and framed by swaying king coconut trees, the resort doubles as a quiet retreat or spirited getaway, with some of the world’s most captivating wildlife and exotic birds in nearby national parks. The island nation boasts a colourful heritage, and its southern coast caters to leisurely exploration with historic temples, quaint fishing villages and secluded beaches.

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Beginning at 48 square metres, the guestrooms feature louvered shutters and polished wooden floors that lead to balconies suited for admiring the resort’s lush garden – where peacocks can be spotted roaming the grounds – or ocean vista. Handwoven rugs and ocean blue-coloured panels complement the modern luxury style, and spacious bathrooms are accessorised with stone-clad bathtubs and rain showers.

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Each of the 21 suites, ranging in size from 96 to 240 square metres, provides the ultimate in privacy and butler service. Thoughtfully designed with a balcony and oversized rattan furniture to lounge in, the interiors reflect the island’s beauty through vibrant colours and look out to the emerald green hues of the fairways or Indian Ocean. All guests can stay connected with free Wi-Fi.

Spa enthusiasts can indulge at CHI, The Spa, where Ayurvedic treatments are delivered using 100 per cent organic herbs and natural products after a personal consultation with the guest. In all, twelve indoor and outdoor treatment rooms are a haven for stress relieving massages, facials and body treatments, and a treat for the senses.

Golfers can expect to be challenged on the par-70 course at Shangri-La’s Golf and Country Club when it opens in mid June. The resort is the first in Sri Lanka to have its own golf course. Designed by Rodney Wright, it encompasses a revitalized former sapphire mine. Players encounter three zones that present infinity ocean views, wide fairways and testing water and bunker features. Lush vegetation and birdlife can be seen along the 5,584-metre long course of salt-tolerant grass. Eco-friendly attributes include the use of degradable organic balls (filled with fish feed) at the driving rage and an irrigation system that harvests and recycles rain water for the course.

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With pleasant temperatures most months of the year, outdoor experiences along nature trails are ideal as is taking up one of the resort’s many recreational pursuits, including beach volleyball, mountain biking and jogging. Enhancing the already extensive list of resort activities is an on-site Health Club offering state-of-the-art fitness facilities, yoga classes and stretching.

In the evening, Kadamandiya Village is transformed to stage scheduled dance, music and Angampora – Sri Lanka’s indigenous martial art – performances amid servings of local cuisine and refreshments.

A selection of four restaurants and bars allow guests to experience a culinary adventure without venturing off property. Among the offerings are Bojunhala for international buffet and Sri Lankan specialities or Sera for hawker-style stalls featuring flavourful cuisines of Southeast Asia. Ulpatha or ‘Watering Hole’ is home to one of the finest selection of malt whiskies, while Gimanhala prepares fresh drinks after morning yoga, all day refreshments and cocktails by candlelight.

Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka is offering a variety of opening packages, including an all-inclusive offer for two, priced at US$247 per night, valid until 22 December 2016. Room rates start at US$216, single or double occupancy, and include breakfast. The resort can be reached by air from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport and Hambantota’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, which is 35 kilometres away, or by car via a 240-kilometre coastal road.

Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is the first of two Shangri-La hotels in Sri Lanka with the second hotel – Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo – slated to open next year. The group operates two other resorts in the Indian Ocean – Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius and Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives.

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