Archive for October, 2012

Lonely Planet names SL as best to visit in 2013

World’s most renowned and largest travel guide book and digital media publisher –“The Lonely Planet” has named Sri Lanka as number one destination in the world to visit in year 2013.

The travel experts and the voters have predicted that Sri Lanka will be on the top of the hottest new holiday destinations for the travelers in year 2013. Under the title  ‘Serenity returns to Serendib “  the travel guide raves destination Sri Lanka describing the multi-faceted experiences the traveler can look for in this small Island , fused with novelty and indulgence :

“Dubbed Serendib -the origin of the word serendipity “ by seafaring Arab traders centuries ago, Sri Lanka has been anything but serene in recent decades. …South Asia’s most compact country have remained off limits to even the most intrepid traveller. .…investment is again fuelling the tourist industry and visitor numbers are steadily increasing. Prices are affordable. Indeed, Sri Lanka is emerging as one of the planet’s best-value destinations.

The travel guide book highlights the emerging new popular places to visit in Sri Lanka including the newly opened up East coast and less travelled paths in the western coast as well : “North of the capital Colombo, on Sri Lanka’s west coast, Kalpitiya and the Puttalam lagoon are eco-tourism hotspots with bird watching and kayaking. Near Dondra Head, on the south coast, mighty blue whales are regular visitors from January to April while land-based wildlife thrills include the leopards and elephants of Yala National Park, and the more rugged and remote Wilpattu National Park, open once more after being closed for more than two decades “

Being famous for pristine sandy beaches from the begining, the Lonely Planet remarks that the total experience in Sri Lanka is truly a life changing experience for any traveler:

“The gloriously arcing beaches of the nation’s east coast are now challenging traditional southern favourites. Arugam Bay’s sandy crescent is one of Asia’s best surf spots and further north, Uppuveli and Nilaveli near Trincomalee stretch for several pristine kilometers….Explore the glorious labyrinth of Galle’s 17th-century Dutch fort. In past centuries, the Unesco-listed colonial town was a prosperous hub of global trade and now boutique hotels and an emerging arts scene instil a cosmopolitan allure. Further north, you can discover Sri Lanka’s imposing ancient cities, emerging from a verdant landscape. All around the country, tuck into great-value local cuisine including grilled seafood, spicy kottu (roti chopped and mixed with vegetables) and multi-course mini banquets of different curries at family run guesthouses. Indian and Thai cooking may be world-renowned, but Sri Lanka’s time in the global gourmet spotlight can’t be far away.”

The country is becoming easier to reach due to cheap fares from regional hub Bangkok said Lonely Planet.

The annual Lonely Planet lists are compiled based on unbiased views of the staff, writers and travel community. Spokesman Adam Bennett said that the choices are not based on where travellers are already going but rather are “our pick of where we believe travellers really should consider visiting in 2013.” He said that destinations make the list for a variety of reasons, including special events, recent developments or buzz, or that the destination is up-and-coming and worth visiting before the crowds get too big.

This achievement is certainly a boost for the Tourism industry of Sri Lanka which keeps on breaking its own records through out the past years and strategically targeting  2.5 million tourist arrivals by year 2016.

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Earl’s Regency secures first place in Kandy region

Arjuna Rathnayake from Earl’s Regency walked away as the winner of the recently concluded Absolute Bartender Challenge 2012. The competition organized by Periceyl (Pvt) Ltd in collaboration with the Kandy Hoteliers took place in the hill capital recently. The “Absolut Stinger” created by Arjuna bagged him the first place in the competition.

Arjuna Rathnayake who hails from Galagedara commenced his career at Earl’s Regency as a trainee waiter. Motivated by his passion and talent Rathnayake climbed up the ranks and was soon promoted to barman. In his new position the talented Rathnayake excelled in the competition arena where he went on to win a Gold and Bronze Medal at the Chefs Guild Culinary Art 2010.

“We are extremely proud to have in our team, talented members such as Arjuna. We take great pride in our staff and continuously encourage them to participate in competition in order to nurture their inherent skills. Seeing them excel motivates us and encourages the rest of the team to follow their dreams”, said Neroy Marso, General Manager, Earl’s Regency, Kandy.

Nested in the historical hill capital of Sri Lanka, Earl’s Regency is recognized as the premium five star property in Kandy. The Hotel owned by Sumiko Lanka Hotels is managed by Aitken Spence Hotels, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence.

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Luxury train service launched

Sri Lanka Railways launched a new luxury class train service from Colombo Fort to Nanu Oya.

Transport Deputy Minister Rohana Kumara Dissanayake officially launched the new luxury train service at the Colombo Fort railway station at 8.10 am last Friday.

The luxuary train will leave Colombo Fort at 8.10 am daily and reach Nanu Oya by 2 pm. On the return trip, the train will leave Nanu Oya at 2.50 pm and reach Colombo Fort by 8:47 pm.

The (S -12) power-set imported from China consists of one luxury carriage, three class two and four class three carriages,in addition to a restaurant, adjustable seats and facilities to dump litter.

With the deployment of this new power set, it is expected to reduce travel time between Colombo Fort to Nanu Oya considerably. A test run of the new (S.12) power set was conducted from Colombo Fort to Badulla recently under the patronage of Transport Minister Kumara Welgama.

Irangika Range.

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Aitken Spence Hotels powering the future with energy drive

Aitken Spence Hotels, a pioneer in the local tourism industry has continually been in the forefront of developing efficient hotel energy management systems by practicing the control of procedures, operations and equipment that contribute to the energy use in a hotel operation. The Company has already taken important steps towards the future by improving energy efficiency and increasingly using renewable energy technologies in its operations. These steps are creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty and helping to protect the planet.

The group has a comprehensive energy conservation policy and has concentrated on reducing its dependency on fossil fuels by switching to renewable energy. In a first for any hotel in Sri Lanka, a biomass gasifier was installed at Heritance Tea Factory and thereafter at Heritance Kandalama. The gasifier reduces 750 tonnes of carbon emissions per year by replacing diesel with grilicidia wood.

With another first in the industry, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara broke new ground by being the first hotel in the country to enter into a Net Metering Agreement using solar photovoltaic as the renewable energy source. Continuing in its pioneering trend, Aitken Spence Hotels, had initiated to introduce ISO 50001:2011 as a tool to reduce energy consumption, having recognized the ever escalating energy cost and the impact on global warming due to the efforts to generate more energy. In its efforts, Heritance Ahungalla was recently certified for Energy Management System ISO 50001:2011, the first resort in the world to do so.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have been practicing sustainability even before the advent of the triple bottom line approach. We are very enthusiastic in continuing in this trend and playing our part in reaching the United Nations goal of achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 and position tourism at the center of the clean energy economies of the future,” said Rohitha Rajaratne, Vice President, Engineering, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator and the largest international hotel operator in the Maldives. The group also manages a portfolio of hotels in India and Oman. The company’s premier resorts operate under the brand Heritance.

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Emirates unveils Emirates Arena

Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has announced a major sponsorship deal that includes a multi-million pound sponsorship with Glasgow City Council. As part of the agreement, Emirates now holds the exclusive naming rights for the city’s new world-class sports facility, the ‘Emirates Arena’.

The ten-year partnership will enable the airline to strengthen its presence in Glasgow with prominent branding on and throughout the Emirates Arena, highlighting a long-term investment in Glasgow and giving the venue an internationally recognised brand name.

“As a truly global airline, we are committed to connecting people and cultures and this new sponsorship in Glasgow is a true reflection of this commitment. We sponsor a number of the world’s most prominent international sporting and cultural events and this multi-million pound agreement will not only help to inject significant funds into the Glasgow economy, but will also highlight Glasgow’s place on the international sporting stage,” said Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Europe Richard Jewsbury.

The £113million Emirates Arena will open its doors for the first time on Friday, October 5 and in its first four months of operation, will play host to eight Scottish, European and world level sporting events. As well as creating an all-round sport and community facility available to professionals and locals alike, this deal has secured employment for over 500 people during construction.

Emirates has a long history of supporting sport both in the UK and worldwide, including The International Cricket Council, the FIFA World Cup, the 2012 Ryder Cup and the Arsenal Football team at the Emirates Stadium in London.

“This is a fantastic deal for the people of Glasgow,” said Leader of Glasgow City Council Gordon Matheson. “Many of the world’s top sports venues already enjoy the considerable benefits and prestige secured through a naming rights agreement and this partnership with Emirates puts us firmly in that elite group.

“The Emirates Arena is a truly world-class venue that will host a genuinely world-class sporting events programme. This partnership will bring that venue and global brand together and it will be the people of Glasgow who will reap the benefits. Over the next 10 years, this multi-million pound deal will leave a lasting legacy.

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Sri Lanka Tourism to spice – up Spice Food Festival

Following the success of the World Spice Food Festival since 2005, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has once again made arrangements to conduct the World Spice Food Festival 2012, with the aim of showcasing culinary expertise from around the world with added Sri Lankan flavour.

The festival begins with the launch at Mt. Lavinia hotel on October 4, followed up by the Public Event- Hawker’s Street Food Promotion at “Board Walk, Battaramulla” from 05th to 7th October. Participating hotels and restaurants will be host to a culinary fiesta in dedicated outlet in their hotels and the stand along restaurants designated in Colombo.

This year’s event will showcase some of the unique culinary expertise of master chefs participating at the World Spice Food Festival2012, shouldering with their counterparts in the reputed hotels and restaurants in Colombo.

The festival will be an ideal opportunity for tourists who are in transit or holidaying in Sri Lanka to enjoy variety of delectable cuisine from Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Pakistan, China, Japan, Singapore, Middle eastern and Latin American not forgetting the Sri Lankan specialties.

Highlight of the World Spice Food Festival is the hawker’s street’ at “Board Walk”, Battaramulla from 05th to 07th October 2012 , allowing visitors and food lovers of browsing through international theme cuisines food stalls along with friends and families. The “Board Walk” venue will take on a festive air with live music and cookery demonstrations, cooking competitions such as Batticaloa Prawn curry (Colombo Culinary Challenge), Kottu Championship, Mocktail, Cocktail competitions and special cultural performances giving a truly unforgettable dining experience for the whole family.

Sri Lanka’s hospitality industry has risen to the occasion as always with a combination of 11 top city hotels and 05 speciality restaurants being enthusiastically involved in ensuring that the 12 master chefs flown in for the event will showcase the magical culinary delights, throughout the period.

Hotels and restaurants that will adorn the chef ’s hat at the World Spice Food Festival are, Hilton Colombo (China) , Cinnamon Lake Side (Vietnam), Cinnamon Grand(Pakistan), Grand Oriental Hotel (Singapore), Galadari Hotel (Egypt), Hilton Residencies ( Malaysia ), Mt. Lavinia Hotel (Latin America), Galle Face Hotel (Singapore), Ramada Colombo (North-India), Taj Samudra (Australia ), Waters Edge (Japan), The Mango Tree (North-India), Siam House (Thailand), Jack Tree (Thailand), The Sizzle with their unique sizzler’s concept and Raja Bojun (Sri Lanka).

HSBC, MA’S Tropical Food Products, Elephant House, Lion Breweries, and Global Brands are generously supporting the World Spice Food Festival in a bid to bring Sri Lankans, to witness global cuisine at its best – right here in Sri Lanka.

The World Spice Food Festival was initiated in 2005.

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Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge an Inimitable Concept


‘I magine there’s no heaven …It’s easy if you try.’ Heaven is a place on earth and the exact meaning of Lennon’s song came to me only when I visited Madulkelle few weeks ago, where I discovered heaven. Imagine waking up to the sounds of birds chirping outside and the sun rays over the Knuckles Mountain range falling on your tent room. Zip down the tent door to see a deer or a giant squirrel run away to the valley of tea plantations and witness the most spectacular morning views imaginable.

This is not a script from a movie or a dream but just an unspoilt location just about 140 kms away from Colombo.

‘Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge’, is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka offering a revolutionary and contemporary concept to the traditional warmth and hospitality that Sri Lanka is famous for. Nestled on a picturesque 23 acre tea plantation, on the West slope of the Knuckles Mountain Range, ‘Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge’ can be reached via Katugastota, Madawala and Wattegama and is just about one hours drive from the Kandy City Center.

Perched on the Hunas Mountain on a nearly 70 year old tea plantation, overlooking the Hulu Gaga valley and the ‘Knuckles’ Mountain range, ‘Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge’ is a unique resort with 11 permanent luxury tent secluded lodges (rooms) on platforms on the ridge of the mountain.

‘This way we not only preserved the Tea Plantation, but continue with the production of tea to the world market’ said Bhathiya Gunesekera, the Managing Director of the project.

All lodges are made of high quality tarpaulin canvas specially imported from South Africa. Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge intend to establish 20 to 30 platforms on the ridge for luxury tent accommodations.

‘This is the very same material used by many world renowned safari camps especially in campsites all over Africa’ he added.

Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge is a 70 million BOI investment project which started in 2008 with a French company and Philippe Gomez is the Director representing the overseas interest.

Each lodge at the Madulkelle Eco Lodge can hold a maximum of 3 people and feature a front porch with ‘out-of-this-world’ views, comfortable beds, full bathroom with walk-in shower and a separate private water closet.

‘Guests staying at the Madulkelle Eco Lodge will appreciate the many facilities and services on offer. Some of these facilities include a newly built real colonial style ‘planter’s’ estate house with reception, welcome area and information desk, a library with internet access and a business centre, an English styled Lounge Bar and a dining room and restaurant with a cozy fireplace.

‘The cuisine we offer is all Sri Lankan and cater according to our guests needs and requirements. Gobble and fusion cuisine is our favourite’ said Chaminda, the Manager of the place.

‘Ayurvedic Massages and Therapies by welltrained staff could be arranged in the privacy of your tent or even outdoors under the cool shade of a tree’ Bhathiya stated.

At Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, most of the fruits, vegetables and herbs needed for the kitchen are home grown in their organic garden. This ensures the freshness of the product.

‘An Organic Vegetable and Herb Garden yielding fresh vegetables and herbs all year round helps our Chef to prepare fresh and delicious meals daily,’ said Mr. Gomez, who is keen on culinary delights offered to the guests.

‘We strongly believe in giving back to the society and the various communities we associate with. We conduct regular community service programmes with the nearby village community to help sustain their livelihood and the education of their children. Regular donation of books for the village library and the donation of computers to provide IT training for children are couple of the initiatives undertaken by us’ Bhathiya said.


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