The Golden Triangle of Sri Lanka is a region that encompasses three of the country’s most ancient cities – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy. These cities are not only rich in history and culture but also home to some of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks.
In the middle of this amazing area lies a hotel unlike anything you’ve seen before and upon seeing it in person immediately creates Bond villain-esque vibes, the Heritance Kandalama.
The Heritance Kandalama is a five-star hotel and Geoffrey Bawa designed architectural masterpiece located on the outskirts of the charming town of Dambulla in Sri Lanka. Set amidst lush greenery and nestled between the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
Upon arriving at the hotel, I was immediately struck by its incredible camouflaged appearance. It almost appears out of nowhere. The resort is built into the side of a hill and is surrounded by a thick canopy of trees and falling vines. You couldn’t make it look part of the natural landscape anymore if you tried. It reminds you of those apocalyptic movies where nature has taken over – in a good way!
The hotel boasts of 152 rooms and suites, all of which offer stunning views of the forest or the Kandalama Lake. The guest rooms at Heritance Kandalama are categorized into Deluxe Rooms, Premium Rooms, and Suites. All the rooms are tastefully decorated with modern amenities and feature large glass windows and balconies, which allow guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Our room was spacious and beautifully designed with a comfortable bed, a cozy seating area, and a large balcony (which you need to be careful what you leave out there). The bathroom was also impressive with a deep soaking tub and a rainfall shower.
The signature vines which fall down the exterior of the hotel and provide the hotel with its unmistakable look, also provide perfect natural ladders for the Heritance Kandalama’s permanent guests… monkeys!
Make sure you keep your balcony door shut, or you might have them coming into your room to see what delights you’ve been eating or drinking. We tried to take photos on the balcony with a glass of spiced rum as a delicious prop. As I was pouring it, I could hear the trees around the balcony rustling. I thought it was just the wind until a few minutes later I was surrounded but about 10 monkeys with more on the move. I made it back inside the suite just in time and made sure I consumed all my delicious drinks behind closed doors.
THE RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The resort offers a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants. The main restaurant, Kanchana, serves an extensive buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food was delicious with a wide range of Sri Lankan and international dishes to choose from. The other restaurants, including the Italian-themed restaurant, Il Ponte, and the rooftop bar, were equally impressive.
For guests who prefer a more intimate dining experience, the resort also offers a private dining option. Guests can choose from a range of locations, including the poolside, the garden, or even on a boat in the middle of the Kandalama Lake. The private dining option is perfect for couples looking for a romantic dinner or for families celebrating a special occasion.
Heritance Kandalama also offers a range of bars where guests can relax and unwind after a busy day of exploring the surrounding area. The Kanchana Bar, located next to the restaurant, offers a range of cocktails, wines, and spirits. The Kaludiya Bar, located near the pool, is the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing drink while soaking up the sun.
One of the unique dining experiences at Heritance Kandalama is the Jungle BBQ, where guests can enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner in the middle of the jungle. The resort also offers a traditional Sri Lankan cooking class, where guests can learn how to cook some of the local dishes using traditional methods and ingredients.
Geoffrey Bawa, widely regarded as the father of modern Sri Lankan architecture, was instrumental in designing and shaping the Heritance Kandalama resort. The resort is a testament to Bawa’s unique vision and his philosophy of seamlessly blending modern design with natural landscapes.
Bawa’s influence can be seen throughout the resort, from the design of the buildings to the layout of the gardens. The resort is built into the side of a hill, with a series of interconnected structures that flow seamlessly into the surrounding forest. Bawa’s use of natural materials such as wood, stone, and glass, and his incorporation of water features and lush greenery, create a sense of harmony between the man-made structures and the natural environment.
One of Bawa’s most notable contributions to the resort is the design of the lobby. The lobby is an impressive structure that features a sweeping roof, made of locally sourced terracotta tiles, and supported by a series of columns. The design of the lobby allows for natural light to filter in, and the use of open spaces creates a sense of airiness and tranquility.
Another notable feature of the resort that reflects Bawa’s influence is the design of the guest rooms. The rooms are spacious and airy, with large windows that offer stunning views of the surrounding forest and the Kandalama Lake. Bawa’s use of natural materials, such as wooden floors and woven cane ceilings, create a sense of warmth and comfort in the rooms.
Bawa’s influence can also be seen in the resort’s gardens, which are designed to blend seamlessly with the natural environment. The gardens feature a variety of indigenous plants, and the use of water features such as ponds and streams creates a sense of serenity and tranquility.
Bawa’s influence at Heritance Kandalama is significant and can be seen in every aspect of the resort’s design. His unique vision and philosophy have created a resort that is not only luxurious and comfortable but also respectful of the natural environment. The resort is a testament to Bawa’s legacy and his contribution to the world of modern architecture.
THINGS TO DO
The resort offers a range of activities to keep guests entertained. We loved the nature walks with the resident naturalist, who showed us the diverse flora and fauna of the forest. The resort also offers yoga classes, cooking demonstrations, and cultural shows, among other activities.
One of the most memorable experiences at Heritance Kandalama was the visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The resort arranged a private tour for us, and our guide was knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the fortress. The climb to the top of the fortress was challenging, but the stunning views from the top made it worth the effort.
The hotel is also in the ideal location for visiting Dambulla Cave Temple – a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of five caves filled with stunning Buddhist art and sculptures. Visitors can admire the intricate carvings and frescoes while learning about the temple’s rich history. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone traveling to Sri Lanka.
Our stay at Heritance Kandalama was unforgettable. The resort’s stunning location, luxurious rooms, delicious food, and attentive service made it the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a serene and luxurious escape in Sri Lanka.