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.

A taste of the high life at the Hilton

The Park Lane hotel offers old-school class and a great afternoon tea. (Supplied)
Updated 23 August 2019

A taste of the high life at the Hilton

DUBAI: It would be difficult to guestimate just how many hotels have opened since the London Hilton on Park Lane. But given that the property debuted in the 1960s and is still going strong, it has certainly demonstrated that it has lasting appeal for customers. And it continues to attract a large percentage of travellers from the GCC.

Let’s do the math: It’s a stone’s throw away from a multitude of tourist attractions, West End theatres, beautiful green parks, and many a Mayfair establishment — including the trusty Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants that seem to get away with charging $35 for shisha (because, London).

The views have no doubt contributed to the Hilton on Park Lane’s longevity. Offering a splendid panoramic sight of the UK capital, with no building in front of the hotel, it’s situated in an area that developers would love to get their hands on. And it continues to win awards, most recently nabbing the Luxury Scenic View Hotel at last year’s World Luxury Hotel Awards.

The five-star hotel comprises 453 rooms including 56 suites. For such a large hotel, service at check-in is welcoming and speedy. We get to our room in no time, a gorgeous suite featuring a walk-in wardrobe and double-sink bathroom. The balcony opens to views of Hyde Park, offering plenty of Insta-worthy photo opps. Whilst the layout and views are fantastic, you do get a general sense that the interiors — both furniture and décor — could do with a minor facelift. The key to retaining customers is to evolve, and sometimes Hilton can seem stuck in its ways.

Speaking of which, there are things that seem a little too old-fashioned to still be around. For example, standard Wi-Fi is not offered to guests. You need to book stays through Hilton’s own website in order to enjoy Wi-Fi free of charge.

Secondly — we get it — parking in London is a nightmare and doesn’t come cheap. However, given that rooms at the London Hilton on Park Lane don’t come cheap either, it seems ludicrous that parking in the hotel’s car park costs about $60 per night.

Nonetheless, these niggles are made up for by an incredibly comfortable bed, a good selection of amenities, and extra lifestyle offerings including restaurants, a fitness centre and spa. It’s home to the signature 24-Karat Gold massage, an hour-long treatment that uses gold leaves and gold-infused oil to rejuvenate the skin.

One area in which the hotel truly excels is its afternoon tea offering, and, let’s face it, what’s a trip to the United Kingdom without enjoying a selection of brews, finger sandwiches, scones and cake? The Podium Restaurant & Bar located on the ground floor is where to go for the London Hilton on Park Lane’s signature experience, created by chefs Emmanuel Bonneau and Sam Leatherby. The duo made headlines last year after winning the British TV show “Bake Off: The Professionals” – a spin-off of “The Great British Bake Off” – and Podium’s afternoon tea’s creations have been inspired by their time on the show.

There’s deconstructed black forest gateaux and passion fruit-and-strawberry miniature tarts. Other exquisite items include a traditional praline roulade, three-tiered Pina Colada cheesecake, and caramelised banana milk chocolate macaroons. It is highly recommended that you book ahead.

Given the current climate, a trip to the UK is becoming more and more affordable, and at the moment, Hilton is hosting its annual summer sale that offers up to 30 percent off the best rates. But be quick, as you only have until August 19 to take advantage of that deal. The good news is that you can book stays up to next year.