A luxury escape to Sri Lanka: Julianna Barnaby discovers Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is a piece of paradise on the shores of Sri Lanka’s Indian Ocean coastline. Julianna Barnaby discovers the perfect getaway for the luxury traveller.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is one of Sri Lanka’s newest luxury properties. Since opening in July last year, the hotel has been luring guests with the promise of powdery sands, luxury amenities and some of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful coastline.
This stunning resort boasts 53 hectares of gorgeous land, and overlooks the shimmering Indian Ocean. On first impression, Shangri-La’s Hambantota is impressive. I was ushered into the large open-air lobby, which is decorated with local, handmade accessories and natural materials, before being checked into my room.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa features 300 luxury rooms, varying in size from a 48 square metre room to a 240 square metre suite. All rooms feature a balcony, either overlooking the vibrant tropical gardens or the rich blue of the Indian Ocean. I had booked a Premier Ocean Suite, which was wonderfully spacious, with a separate living and dining room, bedroom, dressing room and bathroom, not to mention a large balcony overlooking the beach.
The room decor very much emphasises the natural surroundings, with locally sourced materials used to create a contemporary yet comfortable aesthetic. Accents such as hand-woven rugs and coloured panels bring life to the interiors, and the spacious bathrooms feature inviting stone bathtubs and rain showers.
Beautiful as the room was, one of the real pleasures for me was watching the sun setting over the ocean from my balcony before heading inside to snuggle up on the couch with a good book.
Guests are free to set their own itinerary and take things at their own pace: one of the benefits of the Shangri La Hambantota is that it is large enough to offer something for pretty much everyone, but the luxury rooms are so comfortable and welcoming that they justify spending a bit of time in them too.
When it comes to pampering, guests are taken care of by CHI, The Shangri La’s signature spa brand. Some hotels use their spa as something of an add on feature, tacked on in a dingy part of the property and offering a substandard spa experience. Not so with the Shangri-La Hambantota. The hotel has focused a lot of time in creating a memorable and enjoyable spa experience for its guests. The spa features 12 treatment rooms, five of which come in private outdoor cabanas.
While CHI is the Shangri La’s international spa brand, they have very much focused on showcasing the country’s rich spa heritage within the decor and the treatments at Hambantota. Sri Lanka has a rich history of Ayurverdic (an ancient medicinal system originating in India) practice, and central tenants from this were used to form the basis for the CHI Spa. One example is the focus on the organic products used for the treatments, all of which are created from natural materials in the surrounding areas. In an area dominated by swaying King Coconut palm trees, it’s fitting that they use a lot of coconuts for the treatments.
Guests can choose from traditional Ayurvedic treatments or treatments hailing from different parts of the world. Those opting for ayurvedic treatments have a consultation with the spa’s in-house ayurvedic doctor prior to their treatment to help the spa to understand which products to recommend to help them achieve their desired objectives.
I opted for the Swedish Massage, which was as relaxing as it was refreshing. The treatment started with a foot bathing ritual in the entrance area of one of the private cabanas then progressed through to the cabana’s main treatment room. Having a massage surrounded by the natural sounds and smells of the tropical flowers and wildlife surrounding the cabana was very much a highlight of my stay at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa .
I finished off the spa experience with some time in the spa’s relaxation area, sauna and steam room complemented by lots of water and tamarind juice.
For guests who are looking for a wellness retreat, CHI’s Journey to Hambantota is the perfect package, providing 6 or 10 days of treatments, consultations, tailor made menus and exercise programmes.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is so much more than just beaches and a spa. Guests can take the opportunity to immerse themselves in Sri Lankan tradition and culture by visiting Kadamandiya Village, an area dedicated to the preservation of Sri Lanka’s artisan communities. Guests can learn and explore traditional Sri Lankan crafts – with artisan weavers, sculptors, painters and potters, all hand-crafting items that are then available to purchase. In the evening Kadamandiya Village transforms into a vibrant display of dance, music and Sri Lanka’s indigenous martial arts form, Angampora.
Restaurant and Bar
The hotel provides a choice of two bars and two restaurants. Bojunhala offers a traditional Sri Lankan buffet as well as delicious a la carte menu, featuring dishes such as pol sambol, moorish string hoppers and their signature mud crab jaffna curry. By contrast, the comfort style street food of Sera entices guests with the tastes of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China,. The hotel’s bar Gimanhala is ideal for revitalising drinks after morning yoga or cocktails in the evening. You can also try the finest malt whiskies at Ulpatha.
Those looking for something a little more active for their trip to Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa have plenty of options to choose from. Of course, you can can choose to sunbathe or take a dip in one of the three salt water swimming pools but if you want to get up and about, you’re spoilt for choice.
Golfers should head to the Shangri-La Golf and Country Club, which boasts a par-70 course. This plushly manicured course was designed by Rodney Wright and is split into three zones. Playing a game whilst surrounded by abundant plant life and gorgeous birds is a memorable experience, no matter how practiced you are at the sport.
The Shangri La’s spacious setting makes the perfect location for their nature trail, which winds its way across the property. If that doesn’t take your fancy then you can try your hand at beach volleyball, mountain biking and jogging, or just sweat it out in the gym or yoga studios.
(94 47) 788 8888