Tri Lanka: An holistic, healthy holiday in South Asia

Tri Lanka a resort in Sri Lanka. (Supplied)
Updated 02 January 2019

Tri Lanka: An holistic, healthy holiday in South Asia

  • Tri Lanka, an intimate eco resort on the shores of Koggala Lake in Sri Lanka
  • The resort is tucked into Koggala’s lakeshore and was designed to blend seamlessly and sustainably into its environment

DUBAI: Tri Lanka, an intimate eco resort on the shores of Koggala Lake in Sri Lanka, is co-owned by Lara Drummond, the developer of Quantum Yoga. As you might expect, then, it places great emphasis on wellness. From daily yoga classes conducted in the open-air yoga shala perched above a bamboo grove, to Ayurveda-inspired spa treatments, there is plenty to do — although the real healing secret of Tri Lanka is the tranquil, spiritual setting, which truly inspires the feeling of being at one with nature.

Which isn’t to say that visitors can’t get their adrenaline flowing. More active types can opt to take on the hiking and cycling trails around the resort — bicycles are provided for guests — and there’s also a parkour circuit around the lake. Those in search of insights into the local culture can take a private trip to Cinnamon island — where a local farmer will provide interesting insights into cinnamon plantations.

The resort itself, tucked into Koggala’s lakeshore, was designed to blend seamlessly and sustainably into its environment. The modernist open-plan Main House offers a stark counterpoint to the lush tropical foliage, a higgledy-piggledy mix of cinnamon, jackfruit, cashew, banana and coconut palms tumble down from the islands and mainland into the pristine waters of the lake. From this main resort hub, a short walk up a small hill takes you up to the eleven suites available at Tri Lanka.

While the design is unmistakably contemporary, the organic spiral structure and use of natural materials including local Jak wood, granite, pebbles, and cinnamon bark, ensure that the property is as sensitive and responsive to its natural surroundings as possible. The buildings’ living roofs are planted with creepers and indigenous plants, to help them blend still further into the landscape, and also to help regulate temperature. Even the bespoke soft furnishings are sourced from a local brand.

Accommodation options range from villas with private plunge pools to rooms in the signature water tower, but all are positioned to offer lake views. While the glass-walled library, where the indoors seem to meld with the outdoors, and the strikingly beautiful infinity pool get the most Instagram hits, the water tower is perhaps the property’s biggest design triumph — a dramatic elliptical structure that takes something essentially functional and infuses it with an aesthetic appeal through the use of natural cinnamon stick cladding. It houses three suites, and a dreamy sundowner spot on the top level.

Staying true to its environment-friendly ethos, the resort also minimizes energy usage, avoids plastics, and contributes to reversing habitat degradation with legacy planting.

In keeping with the resort’s overall ethos, the contemporary Sri Lankan food on offer here draws inspiration from local flavors and combines it with modern European techniques and presentation. The lavish breakfasts feature local fruit smoothies, delicious homemade granola with yoghurt ice cream and local dishes including red millet porridge. Lunches and dinners incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients and creative use of local herbs — think inventive mini hoppers with different toppings, such as prawns and sambal.

Probably the best example of the kitchen’s creativity is Tri’s signature trail mix — a more-ish concoction of fried string hoppers and nuts tempered with spices and curry leaves — a bottle of which is provided in every room. It’s the perfect accompaniment for some quiet contemplation. And Tri Lanka is the perfect place for that.

Malaysia seeks to attract more Arab tourists

Updated 17 June 2019

Malaysia seeks to attract more Arab tourists

  • Tourism minister tells Arab News how his country plans to do so

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is on a mission to welcome more tourists from the Arab world, establishing itself as a cosmopolitan, halal paradise.
With pristine beaches and diverse cultures, the Southeast Asian country has become a magnet for Middle Eastern tourists.
“Malaysia enjoys good relations with the Middle East. Arabs will always feel welcome in Malaysia. We have mutual respect for each other,” Malaysian Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi told Arab News.
“Malaysia has a multicultural society. There are a lot of ethnic groups that live happily and peacefully in this country.”
Colonized by the British, migrants from China and India were brought to Malaysia as laborers. “The country is a mix of people … such as the Malays, Chinese and Indians,” said Haji Ketapi.
“Malaysia has countless places to visit besides the capital Kuala Lumpur,” he added, citing Penang, Melaka, the Langkawi islands and Sabah.
“In the Middle East, most of the visitors are from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, the UAE and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries,” he said.

Malaysia's Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi.  (AN photo)

In 2018, nearly 33,000 Arab tourists visited Malaysia, up from 27,000 the previous year. “We want to have more Middle Eastern tourists,” said Haji Ketapi, adding that the majority of Arab tourists are from Saudi Arabia.
The number of Arab tourists is expected to rise further as Malaysia continues to position itself as a Muslim-friendly, halal haven.
Saudi tourists spend the most when holidaying in Malaysia, at $257 per capita, more than visitors from the UK, the US and Australia, said Haji Ketapi.
“Recently, we were in Dubai promoting Malaysia to attract more Arabs. They’re considered high-end tourists,” he added.
“When they come to Malaysia, they can spend up to six or seven nights, or even more. They stay longer in Malaysia than some other tourists.”
Saudi tourists spent on average 10.1 nights holidaying in Malaysia. “They come to Malaysia for health treatments, shopping and holidaying,” said Haji Ketapi.
“Some of them even come here for business. They have restaurant businesses. That’s why you can easily find Arabic restaurants.”
This year, Malaysia was ranked by the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index as the top travel destination for Muslim travellers for the ninth year in a row.
“Halal food can be easily found in the country. The majority of the population are Muslims,” said Haji Ketapi.

Malaysia's Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi speaking to Arab News journalist Nor Arlene Tan. (AN photo)

Muslim tourists “can go anywhere in the country without difficulty,” he added. “Mosques are everywhere for them to perform prayers. During Ramadan, there are a lot of Middle Eastern tourists visiting Malaysia.”
In every hotel, shopping mall and airport, Muslim travellers can find prayer rooms with signage pointing to Makkah, said Haji Ketapi.
Air Arabia “will be flying soon from Sharjah International Airport to Kuala Lumpur International Airport to bring more tourists from Arab countries,” he added.
“Arabs can easily learn about Malaysia with just a click of a button,” he said. “If I want to go to Dubai, I can just go on the internet and get information about Dubai. I can easily search for the name and cost of hotels and food.”
Some 30 percent of the population in the Middle East are aged 15-29. As such, Malaysia’s government hopes to attract younger tourists through its Visit Malaysia 2020 tourism campaign, which will include digital marketing, social media, influencers, hosted media and other online platforms.
“These people will cover Malaysia through social media and the internet, and bring the news to their country,” said Haji Ketapi.
“We hope to do more such connectivity to get more … tourists from everywhere to visit Malaysia.”