Aitken Spence Travels organises tour of ‘Destination Sri Lanka’ for Lebanese group of agents


Aitken Spence Travels, the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka, along with Fly Dubai organised a FAM tour of Sri Lanka for leading agents from the Lebanese market recently. The tour included visits to the cultural triangle, where they experienced the rich cultural heritage and the many intricacies of local life.

Subsequently, the group also made visits to the hill capital Kandy and Colombo. The tour is expected to further strengthen ties with the Lebanese market, where Aitken Spence Travels has maintained a presence for over 15 years and is the clear market leader who was the first mover.

“We have continued to maintain strong ties with the Lebanese market over the years. In fact, we pioneered the Lebanese market segment as a viable inbound source market. The Lebanese market has excellent growth potential and we stand to gain from establishing stronger relationships with the agents who promote Sri Lanka as a composite destination,” stated Vice President Marketing Darell de Crusz.

The group also visited iconic properties such as Heritance Kandalama in the cultural triangle, Heritance Ahungalla and Turyaa Kalutara on the beach

The tour was a great success with the group extending favourable feedback on the experience. Aitken Spence Travels recorded the highest ever inbound tourist arrivals of 130,000 tourists in the last financial year and is set to achieve steady growth on the previous year’s numbers.

Lina, an agent from Beirut was quoted commenting on the experience – “it was one of the best FAM trips I ever took, if not the best. We experienced the Sri Lankan kindness and hospitality first-hand and we know that it will be the same for our guests. The knowledge gained by us will help us promote and sell this beautiful island in the future.”

Source :–Destination-Sri-Lanka–for-Lebanese-group-of-agents

Sigiriya Jungles offers true Sri Lankan luxury amidst ancient heritage


Sigiriya Jungles, the newest deluxe Sri Lankan-styled resort in the heart of the cultural triangle, offers an exclusive Sri Lankan experience where the rustic and the royal combine for an unforgettable encounter. The legendary Sri Lankan warmth and hospitality can be genuinely evidenced at this resort, where guests are made to feel special.

Spread over 10 acres of naturally landscaped greenery, Sigiriya Jungles is an upmarket resort, tastefully created by a renowned architect in the Audangawa Village, about five kilometres from the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, and which stays true to its traditional roots. An exclusive design feature of the property includes a large iconic wooden bridge which provides extraordinary vistas of the Sigiriya Rock and the Pidurangala Monastery, as also of the verdant environs. Sigiriya Jungles offers a matchless signature luxury experience such as the elegantly designed Spa.

Sigiriya Jungles offers 60 lavishly furnished rooms overlooking the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Each room is designed to serve as a sanctuary with tranquil indoor and outdoor living spaces, intimate artistic touches and luxury service. The rooms offer all imaginable creature comforts for guests.

The resort’s objective to offer an authentic Sri Lankan experience extends to its cuisine, which consists of traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry ensembles. The resort also offers delectable cuisine befitting its upmarket status. Its eclectic restaurants serve a fusion of Western and Eastern cuisine and traditional Sri Lankan fare.

The resort showcases the island’s traditions, music and art at every turn, thereby immersing its guests in a truly definitive experience. A choice of indoor and outdoor restaurants offering signature cuisine, an expansive bar, a large living lounge and a shopping area offers hours of pleasure.

Despite its location in a tranquil environment, the resort offers plenty of opportunities for rest and recreation. The resort features three restaurants, two bars and Wi-Fi throughout the property. It has an outdoor large inviting pool, a spa and wellness centre and a fitness centre for pampering guests.

Sigiriya Jungles is the ideal destination for both business and pleasure. It has exclusive conference and banquet halls to cater for up to 150 people along with state-of-the-art conference facilities. The strategically located resort offers guests the facility to embark on exciting cultural, religious or adventure excursions, which is facilitated by the hotel staff. Guests looking for authentic Sri Lanka hospitality in a luxury setting with a difference, or for a business conference that will prove memorable, or even those celebrating a wedding or another special personal occasion, Sigiriya Jungles is a jewel in the crown of the emerald isle.

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Anantara launches second luxury resort in Sri Lanka


From left: Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Sri Lanka Director of Sales and Marketing Yves-Cem Noack, Serendib Leisure Management Ltd. Chairman and Hemas Holdings Group Director Abbas Esufally, Anantara Kalutara Resort General Manager Edoardo Giuntoli and Hemas Holdings Group Managing Director – Leisure, Travel and Aviation Malinga Arsekularatne



Hemas Holdings in partnership with Minor Hotels announced the launch of the second Anantara resort in Sri Lanka on Monday.

Anantara Kalutara Resort, offering 141 guest rooms, suites and pool villas, is located on the Kalutara peninsula between the Indian Ocean and Kalu Ganga providing coastal, river and lagoon frontage.

The property was originally designed by the late Geoffrey Bawa and is surrounded by tropical gardens, coconut palms and the shoreline. All 127 guest rooms come with a wine humidor as standard with interconnecting, accessible and poolside guest rooms available. The five Suites are set apart by an elegant lounge with the One Bedroom Presidential Suite boasting a private plunge pool and sundeck.

Suites and villa guests can listen to music on the Bose Bluetooth speaker, and special requests are taken care of by the Villa Host. The One and Two Bedroom Villas feature an enclosed garden terrace offering seclusion whilst swimming in the private pool, sunbathing on the deck and dining al fresco. For holidays with family and friends, some of the One Bedroom Garden Pool Villas feature interconnecting gardens.

The resort has a choice of three restaurants. Spice Traders invites travellers to choose between Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines. All day dining restaurant Olu offers international classics and spicy Sri Lanka specialties, whilst refined Italian tastes can be found at Acquolina. Open at dusk, The Upper Deck is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner and light bites, while Dining by Design offers a collection of connoisseur menus with a personal chef and butler, in intimate settings for tailored private dinners.

The resort’s Anantara Spa, which is one of the largest spa facilities in Sri Lanka, offers 10 treatment rooms with holistic Ayurvedic therapies, Asian and western spa treatments. The double-story space features a yoga and meditation pavilions and is surrounded by a lotus pond.

A range of leisure facilities is available for guests to enjoy, whether for romance or quality family time. The Watersports Centre offers a range of activities including jet skiing, water skiing and banana rides. Guests can work out in the gym whilst taking in the river view, or raise their game with a personal trainer. There are two swimming pools – the lagoon-side pool with its Jacuzzi jets and children’s section ideal for families and the ocean view pool offering a tranquil escape.

Family-friendly services begin on arrival with children receiving special treats. Adventurer Club engages youngsters in cultural activities, outdoor games and action-packed excursions. Relaxation is a pampering delight with special family spa experiences. Children can enjoy a range of fun treats, such as a chocolate oil massage and hair braiding. Teen girls can refresh their look with facials, manicures and pedicures, and teen boys are expertly groomed. Dedicated packages for ‘Mum & Me’ and ‘Dad & Me’ allow parents to share unique spa time with their children. Upon departure, a keepsake gift is given to the children.

The resort offers three meeting rooms and a 500-seat conference centre, slated to open in March 2017. A limousine service is available for trips between the resort and Kalutara South Station and Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport.

The brand’s first property on the island, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, has been setting the benchmark for luxury resorts in Sri Lanka in less than one year of operation and has just been named as one of the “50 Best Resorts in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler USA.

The brands first property in Sri Lanka – the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort has set the benchmark for luxury resorts in less than one year of operation with worldwide recognition for its unique coastal setting and impeccable service. The pinnacle achievement has been the recognition bestowed on the property by Conde Nast Traveler USA with Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort being names as one of the “50 Best Resorts in the World”. Anantara currently boasts 35 properties in 11 countries and the next month will see the brand debut in Oman with the opening of two luxury resorts.

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‘The Garden of Eden’ at Peradeniya


By D.C. Ranatunga

It was interesting to read that the income from the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens had nearly touched the Rs. 55 million mark last month. The bulk of the income – 49.7 million – had come from foreigners and five million from local visitors. This is a direct result of the increase in the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

Apart from tourists, Peradeniya Gardens has always been a favourite location for school trips and family outings. From our school days we have been visiting the Gardens. My last visit was four years ago. It’s one place where one does not get tired of going. The greenery, the huge trees and flower beds attract you so much. We were always fascinated with the suspension bridge linking the Gardens and Gannoruwa.

Over the years it’s one of the few places which had been maintained extremely well. That is how it was referred to as “the most beautiful gardens in the world” and “The Garden of Eden” by early travellers.

State visitors to the island invariably made a visit to the Gardens on their way. Heads of State had the privilege of planting a tree to mark their visits.

The Gardens are at an elevation of about 1,600 feet above sea level, according to Curator H.F. Macmillan (1895). Writing in 1906 he states that the area is nearly 150 acres beautifully undulated.

“The climate is moist, hot, and very equable, the mean annul temperature being  about 76° F, though as low as 55°F is sometimes recorded in the early mornings in January and February. Rain falls at frequent intervals, and on an average of about 70 days in the year, with a total yearly average of 89 inches. February and March are the driest, and April and May the hottest months.”

He describes the flora: “The vegetation is purely tropical, being characterised by an abundance of climbing plants or lianas, palms, bamboos, pandanus or screw-pines, epiphytes (orchids, ferns, etc.) and lofty trees, the latter often having buttressed roots. The leaves are generally large, thick and leathery; the flowers usually brilliant and considerable in size, and the fruits often of immense proportions and borne on the trunks of trees and older branches.”

Referring to other striking tropical features, he mentions the great variety of bird, insect, and reptile life. “Lizards or chameleons of diversified forms are everywhere, and snakes of numerous species abound, from the venomous cobra and repulsive polanga, to the harmless, beautiful green whip-snake, which live mostly in trees and shrubs. With reasonable precautions, however, the snakes do not constitute an appreciable source of danger.”

He advised visitors that although there are well laid out roads one should explore the beauty and treasures on foot.  Macmillan’s ‘Illustrated Guide to the Gardens’ is exhaustive and is a fine record of the early days of the Gardens when visitors to the Gardens numbers around just 3,000 in a year.


Although we are used to talk about the Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens established by the British in 1821 six years after the capture of the Kandyan kingdom, its history goes back to the 14th century. When King Wickremabahu III ascended the throne and Gampola was the capital, he kept court at Peradeniya at this venue.

No mention is made after that until the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-80) who made it a Royal Garden. By then the capital had been shifted to Senkadagala. His successor, King Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1780-98) had resided here in a temporary residence built for him. King Wimala Dharma (1592-1604) who started ruling from Senkadagala after Sitawaka king Rajasinghe I, had erected a vihare and dagoba at the location. The British had destroyed them when they occupied Kandy in 1915. It is on record that a Buddhist monk had been residing till the Gardens were established by Alexandar Moon in 1821.

Prior to the British, the Dutch had maintained a continuous interest in plants and had established the first botanic garden in Colombo. Well-known botanists had collected plants from here in 1777/78. A name mentioned is Professor C.P. Thumberg of Uppsala University in Sweden. The peculiarity of Sri Lankan flora had been widely known in Europe and D.T. Ekanayake, a former Director of Peradeniya Gardens feels that this may have been one of the major reasons for the British to show such a keen interest in establishing a botanic garden.

Prior to Peradeniya, in 1812 a botanic garden had been established under the name ‘Kew’ in Slave Island (the road is still known as Kew Road) on the advice of Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society. After three years it had been moved to Kalutara. A neglected 600-acre sugarcane plantation at Uggalboda had been the location. The colonial administration had then decided to look for a location around Kandy where the climate was more suitable for a botanic garden. Thus Peradeniya was selected by Alexander Moon, who was the superintendent of the Kalutara garden.

Moon continued to be the superintendent and was responsible for the clearing up of the area that was mostly planted with cinnamon and coffee. He published the ‘Catalogue of the Indigenous and Exotic Plants Growing in Ceylon’ in 1824 with the botanical and native names of 1,127 plants in the country. He also established a National Herbarium.

A number of inefficient superintendents had followed Moon who had died in 1825 until 1844 George Gardner, a well-known traveller had taken over in 1844 who had improved the place. Only 40 acres of the 147 acres were in cultivation when Gardner took charge and he soon used land to grow jak, coconuts and vegetables for sale by the Government Agent in Kandy.  While improving the condition of the Gardens, he made a valuable contribution by exploring the country to collect flora. His untimely death at the age of 37 in Nuwara Eliya was a blow to the forward march of the Gardens.

However, the effort put in by his successors Dr. G.H.K. Thwaites, a scientist (1849-80) and Henry Trimen (1880-96) had brought much fame to the Gardens. They took a keen interest and introduced plants in a systematic way culminating in the publication of a monumental work by Trimen titled ‘The Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon’ in five volumes.



Trees all


I was fascinated by what I observed during my last visit on how the ageing trees have become artistic objects. They are very tall. The roots form a distinctive design. So are the trunks. Some stand erect. Some give shelter to others. Each has a short explanatory note with the botanic term, origin and the uses.

Here are a few trees I


Source :–at-Peradeniya

Sri Lanka on full show in Zurich, Switzerland


Swiss nationals and the young generation of Sri Lankan expatriates were able to explore the finest corners of culture and trade of Sri Lanka on Swiss soil after several decades at a three-day event organised by Vidarshana Munasinghe, Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Zurich, Switzerland.

The festival lasted from 9 to 11 September and was held in the City Hall of Bülach, close to the Zurich International Airport. A number of senior officials from the Swiss Foreign Ministry, residence ambassadors, Swiss dignitaries and many religious dignitaries joined Sri Lankan officials designated to WTO and UN to inaugurate the Sri Lanka Festival.

By organising an event of this nature Munasinghe brought Sri Lankan expatriates and Swiss citizens together in order to promote Sri Lanka as a fascinating destination for tourism and trade. Switzerland is one of the strong development partners of Sri Lanka and a number of well-known companies have invested in diverse areas such as cement, agriculture, gem and jewellery, textiles, tourism, electronic etc. Nestle Lanka Ltd., Holcim (Lanka) Ltd., A Baur & Co Ltd., SGS Lanka Ltd., CCS Lanka Ltd., Variosystems Ltd., Bischoff Gamma Lanka Ltd., Kuehne & Nagel Ltd., Daetrade International Ltd., ABB International Market Ltd. and Contrinex Ceylon Ltd. are some of the leading Swiss companies with their branches in Sri Lanka.

The tourism sector would be able to attract more high spending Swiss travellers to Sri Lanka. However due to the size of the market Sri Lanka was not able to pay adequate attention for tourism promotion activities in Switzerland in order to increase the number Swiss travellers coming to Sri Lanka. Therefore the Sri Lanka Cultural, Trade and Food Festival organised by Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka is an endeavour to fulfil the gap.

There were 28 stalls offering Sri Lankan Culinary and 22 stalls exhibiting other commercial products from Sri Lanka throughout the event. Visitors were able to taste different Sri Lankan fresh foods prepared on the spot and also fresh young coconuts, pineapples, mangoes and rambutan brought from Sri Lanka especially for the festival. Among many other things, visitors enjoyed the dancing performances of Sri Lankan artists which depicted vibrant and multifaceted culture of Sri Lanka.

Despite several hindrances from politically motivated extremist groups, the three day ‘Sri Lanka Cultural, Trade and Food festival’ initiated by Munasinghe was remarked as a highly successful event attracting more than 8,000 people to the event, which portrayed Sri Lanka’s rich culture, heritage and traditions among the Swiss participants.

Access Engineering spruces up Kadawatha-Nittambuwa section in Colombo-Kandy Road

As a part of the National Road Rehabilitation Plan, the widening of the existing Colombo-Kandy corridor up to Nittambuwa was initiated and the rehabilitation and improvement work of the section Kadawatha-Nittambuwa was awarded to Access Engineering PLC, with local bank financing.

The Colombo-Kandy (A1) road, the main access road to Kandy; the second largest capital and the major centre of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage, is among the most heavily used and severely congested trunk roads in the country.

The need to expand the existing two-lane A1 road which runs through numerous urban and semi-urban areas from Colombo to Kandy was found imperative given the significant industrial development taking place in the country and particularly in this corridor. The section close to Colombo along seems to carry more than 60,000 vehicles per day resulting in a considerably low travelling speed.

The 23 km, two-lane stretch from Kadawatha (17+000 km) – Nittambuwa (40+000 km) is already under rehabilitation and will be improved to a four lane standard carriageway where the width of a single lane would be 3.7 m. There will be a 1.2 m wide centre median, a hard shoulder of 0.3 m and a soft shoulder of 1.2 m on either side of the road. The project is implemented under the guidance and supervision of Roads Development Authority (RDA).

The scope of the project also include town improvements of Imbulgoda, Balummahara, Yakkala and Thihariya junctions and widening of four bridges to which includes the bridges over Balummahara Oya and Uruwal Oya. Two major RCC girder bridges are to be widened and rehabilitated to 25.00 m and 22.00 m width.

While the section 17+000 km (Kadawatha) to 23+500 km (Trackmo Junction) is competed and already handed over to RDA, the section 23+500 km (Trackmo Junction) – 26+000 km (Balummahara) is scheduled to be completed and handed over by end October 2016. Road widening and subsequent construction activities are being carried out in the road section from 27+200 km (Miriswatta) – 32+620 km (Thihariya) and 32+620 km (Thihariya) – 40+000 km (Nittambuwa) by Access Engineering PLC.

In the working sections of the road, appropriate measures are being taken to minimise the disturbances occurring to the road side residents and to reduce the environmental impact due to the construction work such as dust formation, soil erosion, debris disposal etc.

“As certain sections of the project required extensive land acquisition and utility relocations, meeting the projected timelines was extremely challenging. However once construction is over it  will reduce the travel times and travel fatigue, which in turn will lead to a happier, much more willing and efficient workforce capable of spending more time working and less time on the streets,” said Priyantha Bandara, Project Manager of the Kadawatha–Nittambuwa Road Construction Project.

Once completed in March 2018, the roads will ensure free flow of long distance and metropolitan bound traffic on the road while gradually spurring the industrial development along the corridor.

Further to the construction work, Access Engineering PLC undertook numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives for the benefit of the surrounding communities and the environment.


Two global yacht and marina construction companies show interest in marine tourism


Two companies globally known for yacht building and marina construction have visited Sri Lanka to explore opportunities to invest in marine tourism.

Nizar Tagi, Managing Director of Benetti, the Italian shipbuilding and luxury yacht building company, and Sujay Chohan from Ocean Blue, an Indian yacht builder and marina developer, have visited Sri Lanka and met with the State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dilip Wedaarachchi recently. The two manufacturers have consented to support marine tourism in Sri Lanka related to fisheries industry, according to the State Minister.

Wedaarachchi briefed the two investors in detail regarding the proposed Blue Economy movement and the investors, having been highly impressed by this concept, have expressed their keen interest to fully support the implementation of this process. The State Minister invited them to visit and observe Tangalle in Southern Province which has been decided as the location of implementation of this program.

“The national income could be massively strengthened by promoting fisheries related marine tourism of the country. Diverse programs have been designed aiming at tourist attraction towards marine tourism,” the State Minister, said pointing out that the Fisheries Ministry is the pioneer of promoting whale watching in Sri Lanka which has now become highly popular.

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