Tri Lanka: An holistic, healthy holiday in South Asia

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


Saudi Arabia’s “City of Springs” moves step closer to UNESCO recognition

The village is home to dwellings made of polished stone, some four stories high, and a famous mosque. (SPA)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s “City of Springs” moves step closer to UNESCO recognition

  • Village of Zee Ain included on a tentative list within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

JEDDAH: While preserving and restoring national heritage sites is no easy task for any country, ensuring these treasures stand out on the world stage is a whole different ballgame. 
Thankfully, the efforts made by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have paid off for one village in the Kingdom’s famous Al-Baha region.
The village of Zee Ain, Arabic for “city of springs,” was included on a tentative list within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after King Salman approved its nomination in 2015.
The SCTH has since put forth a multimillion dollar comprehensive restoration plan for the village to make it tourist friendly and shed light on its famous, locally made products.
What makes the village of Zee Ain stand out is its strategic location atop a mountain offering impressive panoramic views of the region’s farms.
The village is home to dwellings made of polished stone, some four stories high, and a famous mosque. The area, which is said to be more than 400 years old, was given its name from the permanent water source that flows into the area from nearby valleys.
The SCTH development plan, which has been underway for several years, consists of two stages. The first is restoring several structures to create an open-air museum overlooking the waterfalls, as well as revamping an existing museum.
The second is constructing a village garden and a visitors’ center, which will eventually include an exhibition of locally made products.

Hidden gem
The peak on which the village is built, which is also set against an impressive backdrop of mountain ranges, is renowned for fruit and spices, including banana, lemon, pepper and basil.
Tourists can also get a glimpse of the historic forts built around the village. Legend has it that the springs were dug inadvertently in search of a cane belonging to well-known local.
The development plan also includes carrying out research studies aimed at shedding light on the city’s unique architecture and the raw material with which doors and windows are made.
Zee Ain was home to many tribal battles before the establishment of the Kingdom. The area is also renowned for a battle in which two famous tribes defeated the Ottomans. As such, it is known among locals as the “site of Turks’ graves.”
Locals in Zee Ain have jumped on board the quest to get their hidden gem on the map. More recently, locals have introduced banana festivals in an attempt to attract farmers and tourists.
Its existence in a region already brimming with natural wonders, including Raghdan Forest, as well as traditional markets selling distinct handicraft, has no doubt boded well for the city of springs, which may one day rival the likes of France’s Mont Saint Michel and Italy’s Amalfi Coast thanks to the distinct vantage point it offers and the geophysical beauty with which it is surrounded.