SITTING on the bank of the island’s longest river, the historic mountain capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, has one truly five-star experience set amongst some of the world’s most culturally rich and historically diverse environments.
Living in the Gulf, it is often easy to forget about a summer season where the temperature stops rising, before the top of the thermometer explodes, or even imagine a non-humid, tropical climate where the temperature only ever fluctuates from 18-25 Celsius – all year round.
Yet, less than four hours away from Dubai, at 490m above sea level, a mountain-side town – Sri Lanka’s most famous holiday destination – hosts one of the more modern, luxury wonders of the Indian Ocean’s second-largest island state.
The 150-year old, Victorian style hotel Mahaweli Reach is one of Sri Lanka’s most splendid modern charms set and the only five-star rated hotel in the town. Mahaweli Reach is also distinguished as one of the last, independent, family-run hotels in its class. The 114 deluxe-room hotel hosts a mix of modern and traditional luxuries with amenities including satellite TV, an Ayurvedic spa, tennis courts and gymnasium, however, it is not just the splendour of its colonial architecture that lends this hotel its charm but its plentiful number of surrounding distractions ranging from the ancient to the modern day.
Rates over the off-peak season from May-October are around $125 per night although special meeting packages can range from $195 for three nights bed-and-breakfast (B&B). For the newly-weds and romantics, the honeymoon package starts at only $495, for both persons, for a three-nights stay that includes a romantic dinner, boat ride down the Mahaweli river and a special aromatic bath on a preferred evening of your choice.
History & Culture
Whether it is a spiritual, cultural, historic or just a leisurely interest that brings you here you will be not be disappointed. The small, historic mountain town of Kandy, located right in the centre of Sri Lanka, is actually the traditional capital of the last of the island’s indigenous Sinhalese Kings, before the Europeans arrived in the 16th century.
Today, in its retired status as capital, the town’s variety of traditional and colonial architecture is set amid tea and spice gardens, mountains, lakes and rivers, with access to the town a dramatically picturesque, car – or even steam train – journey away from the modern coastal capital, Colombo.
The main tourist attraction of Kandy is undoubtedly the Dalada Maligawa, the ‘Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha’. Brought to Sri Lanka in the fourth century AD, the relic was the traditional symbol of sovereignty for the island’s traditional Sinhalese monarchs and rulers.
At the temple, there are three religious services per day, held at dawn, mid-day and in the evening. The services are not closed and the service and traditional music played with it can be enjoyed by pilgrims, tourists and locals alike.
For the naturists, the 57-hectare Royal Botanical Gardens laid out in 1832 in Peradeniya, six kilometres from Kandy, are said to be among the finest examples in the world.
If wildlife takes your fancy then you will not be disappointed in Pinnawela. About half-way between Colombo and Kandy, the river-side Elephant Orphanage (Sanctuary) is a key attraction and haven for elephants that have been displaced from their natural habitat.
For those craving a more modern, leisurely stroll down a fairway then you could do worse than take to the 18-hole, Par 72 Championship golf course – just a short 30 minute ‘drive’ from the hotel. With four Par 5 holes intermixed with tricky but excellent Par 3’s, the 6,879 yard course is a healthy afternoon’s workout by any measure.
Mahaweli Reach caters to a variety of guests with many choosing it as a honeymooner’s paradise as well as business executives using it as the perfect location for team building retreats. The hotel even offers an itinerary of activities that link into the local culture or environment.
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