Signature checks in to… Anantara Kalutara Resort
Leave the buzz of Colombo behind and take refuge between river and ocean at Anantara Kalutara Resort, suggests Howard Shaw.
A tropical beach escape meets the warm hospitality of Sri Lanka at Anantara Kalutara Resort, a tropical escape between the estuary of the Kalu Ganga River and the Indian Ocean.
Traveller: Howard Shaw
Room: One Bedroom Presidential Pool Suite
Address: St Sebastian’s Road, Katukurunda, Kalutara, Sri Lanka
Date: October 2017
Best for: a five-star experience on the estuary of the Kalu Ganga River and the Indian Ocean
The Signature factor
Take a drive from the hustle and bustle of the capital out to Sri Lanka’s tranquil coastline. This Anantara resort seems a natural part of the landscape, with its trademark service against a backdrop golden sands and swaying coconut palms. The bold, spicy cuisine will take you on a flavourful tour of Asia, and the Presidential Suite, offering its own private pool, is pure luxury with more space than I knew what to do with.
The main building was designed by Geoffrey Bawa, who is among the most influential architects of his generation, and perhaps Sri Lanka’s most famous. The resort is a tribute to his mastery of Tropical Modernism, with light-filled spacious rooms where calm reigns. The striking colonial style features soaring ceilings that let in the Sri Lankan sunshine and sets an appropriately breezy tone for the 141 luxury rooms, suites and pool villas beyond.
We enter the grounds, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Kalu Ganga River and lush greenery. The resort is the picture of a tropical paradise and personifies the humble elegance unique to Sri Lankan hospitality. On arrival, we are greeted by Sri Lankan dancers and by Norman Zweyer, the cluster director of public relations. As always, Anantara sets itself apart through the warm, personal attentiveness of its staff that makes us feel instantly at home.
Sprawling across 110 square metres, the One Bedroom Presidential Pool Suite is one of the resort’s most spacious accommodations. It features a separate lounge, master bedroom with king-size bed, bathroom with double vanity, rain shower and a separate bathtub, which we spend an afternoon pampering ourselves in, drinking fine wine as relaxing music plays from a Bluetooth speaker. However, the highlight is our private plunge pool, which is sheltered by a roof of timber lengths that allows sunlight to filter through. The private deck is equipped with reclining sun loungers, perfect for relaxing in with afternoon tea. Other amenities include a wine fridge, complimentary Wi-Fi and a Nespresso coffee machine.
On my plate
Across three restaurants, the resort has showcased a tasting tour of Asia, featuring local specialties and favourites from further afield. For elaborate buffets, Olu features an international array of dining; on Mondays, it hosts an Asian buffet dinner, but on Saturdays will transport you to Europe for the fine flavours of Italy. At breakfast, we enjoy a fantastic selection that includes fresh croissants brought to the table.
Craving something more at one with our surrounds later, we warm up for dinner at Spice Traders, warmly hosted by Norman Zweyer. Giving him our complete trust, we let him choose our meals for us, and are not disappointed. An entrée platter includes a sumptuous mix of Indian delights that showcase an impressive mastery of Asia’s bold traditional spices.
At Acquolina, we watch the sunset over cocktails sitting on the deck by the pool. The romantic, candlelit atmosphere is only enhanced further by ocean views as we are presented with a beautifully cooked snapper for dinner.
The resort’s spa facilities are impressive, featuring six single and four double treatment rooms set in an oasis of tranquillity. It boasts a menu of ancient therapies from across Asia that seek to unify the body, mind and spirit, in addition to a beauty salon, yoga pavilion and wellness area lined with lotus waterways. We indulge in the Anantara Signature Massage, which is 90 minutes of pure bliss designed to stimulate circulation and leaves my muscles feeling simultaneously relaxed and energised.
Beautiful, quiet surrounds, pampering spa days and excellent dining make spending an entire day in the resort effortless. Following a revitalising yoga session, an afternoon spent in the pool accompanied by cocktails is the perfect way to experience the warm Sri Lankan climate, and ambient candlelit settings make for a romantic evening on the deck.
Feeling refreshed after a day to settle in, we journey out to Geoffrey Bawa’s own Lunuganga Estate, which is about half an hour from the resort. We travel in one of Anantara’s luxury SUVs, which boasts free Wi-Fi and leather interiors. Inside, we get to see first-hand the immense 40 years of work poured into the establishment, transforming this abandoned cinnamon estate into a private pocket of paradise. The estate is jaw-dropping with its host of courtyards, romantic pavilions, lily ponds and landscaped gardens, lined with rows of frangipani.
I wish I could take home…
One of the carved wooden love seats that decorate the resort’s lobby.
the Upper Deck bar hadn’t been closed for a private function. This breezy lounge space apparently offers wonderful sea views for sundowners and tapas.