Cape Weligama: A world of wellness

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Spread across 12 acres, the Relais & Chateaux resort is home to just 39 suites and villas. (Tom Parker)
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Spread across 12 acres, the Relais & Chateaux resort is home to just 39 suites and villas. (Sebastian Posingis)
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Spread across 12 acres, the Relais & Chateaux resort is home to just 39 suites and villas. (Sebastian Posingis)
Updated 01 April 2019

Cape Weligama: A world of wellness

  • From beachside lounging and watersports to whale-watching and spa treatments, this Sri Lankan resort offers an escape to remember

DUBAI: In the four-plus years since it has been open, the luxury resort of Cape Weligama has raked in numerous international awards and prestigious accolades. It’s not hard to see why — take the unparalleled location, perched at the edge of a headland right on the tip of the southern coast of Sri Lanka, to start with. Cape Weligama’s spectacular design, courtesy of renowned Thai architect Lek Bunnag, makes the most of the clifftop location to offer panoramic views from practically everywhere across the property.

It’s easy to slip into the island way of life here, albeit with a good measure of luxury cossetting thrown in. Meandering from lazy breakfast to pool to spa (the Sanctuary spa treatments, which incorporate local spices and Ceylon tea, can be enjoyed both in the soothing spa villa or in the luxury of your own accommodation) to dinner, with perhaps a nap and some beach time in between, is a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time, but there are plenty of activities if you want to keep busy too.

Snorkeling, surfing and diving lessons are available from the watersports center on the beach just steps from the resort (beaches in Sri Lanka are all public, but in this unspoiled corner of the island the beaches are not crowded). This is also a prime spot for some whale-watching, with very good chances of spotting the rare blue and humpback whales between November to April, when their journey across the oceans brings them closer to the shore. Indeed, a whale-watching tour in the hotel’s own luxury catamaran is not to be missed. On land, cycling trips into local villages are a great option, as is a day trip to nearby Galle Fort to take in all its historic charm.

With the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing at the foot of the cliff, and the sea and skies conjuring up an ever-changing palette of colors and moods, the colonial-meets-Thai-style Ocean Terrace is the perfect spot to take all your meals. Whether it’s freshly-caught local fish with curry sauce, regional specialties such as Jaffna-style goat curry or Far Eastern- and European-inspired dishes, the use of local produce gives everything on the menu a freshness of flavor and sense of place.

Alfresco breakfasts of traditional Sri Lankan delicacies — including the quintessential egg hoppers of course — are equally enjoyable whether taken on the expansive terrace, or on your own private garden deck.

The location is non-negotiable, however, when it comes to afternoon tea or cocktails. For these, you must visit the Cape Colony Club, where vintage décor, with the ceiling fans lazily whirring overhead barely competing with the balmy breezes, transports you back in time.

Spread across 12 acres, the Relais & Chateaux resort is home to just 39 suites and villas, making them some of the most spacious on the island. The ocean view villas, which go up to more than 300 square meters, are large enough to comfortably accommodate a family, with a roomy outdoor deck, apartment-sized bathrooms, and generous, luxuriously appointed bedrooms that are decorated to subtly pay homage to both an island-appropriate nautical theme, and incorporate hints of Thai design.

The terracotta-roofed villas are clustered in threes and fours in ‘wattas’ (gardens) around private infinity pools in lush landscaped grounds, with each watta named after iconic personalities with a Ceylon connection (including Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta).

With 15 pools spread across the property, including the child-friendly Cove Pool, retreating from the day’s exertions into a refreshing dip couldn’t be easier. But for the ultimate Instagram bragging rights, the Moon Pool (yes, that’s the one you’ve seen pictures of…), situated at the very edge of the promontory — making its infinity edge appear to blend seamlessly into the ocean — is truly breathtaking.

THE LOWDOWN

WHERE: Cape Weligama, Weligama, Sri Lanka

PRICE: From $508

CONTACT: +94 412 253 000

WEBSITE: www.resplendentceylon.com/capeweligama

 

 


Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 24, 2019 shows men with henna-dyed beards in Dhaka on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

  • It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: From shades of startling red to hues of vivid tangerine, brightly colored beards have become a fashion statement on the streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Facial hair of sunset tones is now the go-to look for older men wanting to take off the years, with an array of henna options available to the style-conscious.
“I have been using it on my hair for the last two months. I like it,” says Mahbubul Bashar, in his 50s, whose smile reflected his joy at his new look.
Abul Mia, a 60-year-old porter at a local vegetable market, agrees that the vibrant coloring can be transformative.
“I love it. My family says I look a lot younger and handsome,” he adds.
While henna has been used widely in the country for decades, it has reached new heights of popularity. It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard.
Orange hair — whether it’s beards, moustaches or on heads — is everywhere, thanks to the popularity of the colored dye produced by the flowering henna plant.
“Putting henna on has become a fashion choice in recent years for elder men,” confirms Didarul Dipu, head fashion journalist at Canvas magazine.
“The powder is easily found in neighborhood stores and easy to put on,” he adds.
But the quest for youth is not the only reason why more and more Dhaka barbers are adding beard and hair coloring to their services.
Top imams also increasingly use henna powder color in what experts say is a move to prove their Muslim credentials as some religious texts say the prophet Mohammed dyed his hair.
In Bangladesh most of the population of 168 million is Muslim.
“I heard from clerics that the prophet Mohammed used henna on his beard. I am just following,” says Dhaka resident Abu Taher.

Henna has long been a tradition at South Asian weddings. Brides and grooms use henna paste to trace intricate patterns on their hands for wedding parties.
It has also long been used in Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East for beards.
Previously, aficionados created the dye by crushing henna leaves to form a paste. It was messy and time-consuming but modern henna powder is far more user-friendly.
Taher, who goes by one name, believes the dye has given his beard added vigour.
“Look at this growth. Isn’t it strong?” he exclaims pointing to his chin.
“The powder turns the grey hair red but does not change the remaining black hair,” he explains.
Some believe henna powder has health benefits and, as it is natural rather than created using man-made chemicals like some dyes, does not cause any medical issues.
The new trend has also boosted barbers’ fortunes — more men feel compelled to dye their hair and to do it more often at the salons.
“In the past we hardly would get any customers for this,” recalls Shuvo Das, who works at the Mahin Hairdressers in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh neighborhood.
“But now there are clients who come every week to get their beard dyed,” he says.
“It takes about 40 minutes to make the beard reddish and shiny. It is also cheap. A pack cost only 15 taka (four US cents),” Das explains as he massages the dye mixture — imported from India — into a customer’s beard.
According to Dhaka University sociology professor Monirul Islam Khan, the growing number of henna beards “is a sign of increasing Muslim fervor in Bangladeshi society.”
But, he adds, even those who are not strict followers do it.
He explains: “They want to look younger. Even the women are getting fond of it as it makes their hair glitter.”