As someone who is always particular about flight timings and travels regularly, I ensure I reach 3.5 hours before my departure. However, it was on my trip to Sri Lanka that I encountered a dull moment of misreading my flight timings. Having (somehow) forgotten airlines follow the 24-hour clock system, I assumed a 3:10 flight was in the afternoon, which it was not. It was only when I web-checked in at 12:15 am and my screen read “51 minutes remaining for check-in” that I realised the blunder I had created. My mind went straight into panic mode but because I was already done packing, I was able to rush to the airport. Maybe luck was on my side, but as soon as I got to the SriLankan Airlines counter, I got to know that there was a very slight delay in the flight. And I also got an upgrade to business class. I thanked my stars and went on to board the flight.
The staff greeted me with a warm welcome and a glass of champagne that helped calm my nerves. Throughout the journey, they ensured all my needs were taken care of. I was also impressed with the food menu which had an array of options to choose from. I had opted for SriLankan Airlines’ leisure arm, SriLankan Holidays, which provides travellers with a wide selection of holiday opportunities with customised all-inclusive holiday packages from the flights, and ground transportation, to the range of getaways that can enthrall you. And the best part? It offers direct flights from 9 cities – New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum, Madurai and Kochi – to its capital, Colombo, where I arrived comfortably and was ready to begin my tropical getaway.
A Slice Of Heaven
I am dining at a clifftop restaurant overlooking the many shades of blue courtesy of the Indian Ocean. As I feast on Sri Lankan-spiced mud crabs, my eyes take in the splendid setting of the Ocean Terrace restaurant at Cape Weligama, perched on the cliff of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Cape Weligama is part of Resplendent Ceylon, a luxury resort collection that belongs to the family-owned Dilmah Tea Company. It also holds the distinction of being one of the three Relais & Chateaux resorts in the country located along the ‘Best of Sri Lanka’ circuit.
Once I soaked in the views, I retreated into my spacious, terracotta-roofed villa. Nestled within stonewalled wattas or gardens, each villa is named after a famous author; I stayed in Robert Knox. It opens into a large bedroom that leads to a verdant garden and includes a luxurious bathtub with a view of the greenery outside.
The next morning, I devoured a floating breakfast in the semi-private pool in the company of a peahen who dropped by to sunbathe. While a diverse range of activities – from scuba diving and surfing to rice paddy bicycling enticed me – I chose the pleasure of taking a dip in the crescent moon infinity pool that curves around the cape’s summit with spectacular 270-degree coastal views. If the outdoors call out to you, stroll on the Weligama beach or take a trip to Galle Fort – just 30 minutes from Weligama – to explore its colonial houses and churches.
View this post on Instagram
A gourmet paradise, Cape Weligama offers memorable dining experiences besides local Sri Lankan fare at Ocean Terrace. Sip on traditional afternoon cream tea at the Surf Bar or watch the chef whip up a meal at Tableau Chef’s Table. I chose to enjoy my last evening with a curated clifftop dinner against the backdrop of the sunset and glimmering sea. But it’s the following morning that proved to be the icing on the cake. Just when I opened the blinds, I saw a family of peacocks and peahens helping themselves to the buffet of plants in the garden outside the villa, serving as the perfect farewell to a relaxing getaway before my next adventure.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
My thrilling stay at Resplendent Ceylon’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala begins with an important instruction from the staff. “Don’t go out of your room alone once it’s dark. You’re in the wild.” I truly got on board with the sentiment when on my way to the room, I spotted a massive monitor lizard, casually chilling, unbothered by our presence.
Offering 360-degree jungle views, the cosy tented Co-coon Suite is done up in colonial-style using sustainable materials. An outside deck attached to the suite faces a watering hole for animals. I freshened up and headed to the bamboo Dining Pavilion, the design of which is inspired by the distinctive rock formations that dot Yala. The restaurant gave me a peek into authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. I relished string hoppers with chicken curry, barramundi with kurulu thuda or local red rice, cactus ice cream and seafood with local arrack cocktails.
Now for the main attraction – a safari through the Yala National Park. While I came across peacocks and other birds, I wasn’t lucky enough to spot leopards and sloth bears. My souvenir from the memorable drive? Getting close enough to be able to take a selfie with an elephant (or should I call it ‘elfie?’). The bumpy jungle ride is sure to tire you but fret not; the lodge’s Sanctuary spa is well kitted out to give your body some much-needed TLC.
My last day was marked by a gorgeous walk on the beach with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Yala forest on the other. A candlelight dinner on the beach under a full moon, set to a live orchestra of jungle sounds was the highlight of my experience. I head back with a suitcase packed with wholesome memories and lots of Dilmah tea.