Dubai’s JA Resorts to launch luxury $ 20m east coast property by 2017

JA Resorts and Hotels Chief Operating Officer David Thomson (second from left) exchanges the MoU with Gravity Resort Group Director Deepal Ahangama. Others from left JA Resorts and Hotels Director of Acquisitions William Harley-Fleming, Gravity Investment Group Chairman Christopher Bateman and Gravity International Sales Manager Jeremy Payne – Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera 

By Channa Fernandopulle

Sri Lanka’s east coast tourism sector is set to witness further development in the form of a $20 million 5-star luxury resort in Vakarai. The new resort will be the culmination of a partnership between local developer, Gravity Resort Group and Dubai based luxury resort operator, JA Resorts & Hotels. “We have been extremely impressed with Sri Lanka; this island is a truly beautiful and vibrant destination and it’s easy to see why it is becoming so popular. We first decided to come to Sri Lanka about two years ago and since we acquired the site, we’ve spent the last 18 months putting together the right kind of plans, designs and team,” Gravity Investment Group Chairman Christopher Bateman enthused.

“Our focus on the east coast comes at a time when the global tourism trade has begun to recognize that Sri Lanka is one of the hot new destinations. We aim to make this resort our showpiece development in the Asian region and we’re very excited to be here.” Details as to the scale of the project were limited at the time of announcement however Gravity International Sales Manager Jeremy Payne confirmed that the property would be comprised of three different grades of rooms in addition to 11-12 villas and four separate F&B facilities, and extensive entertainment facilities, all within a property of approximately 33 acres and enjoying 450 metres of unspoiled beachfront.

“In terms of what sets us apart, the true differentiator would have to be the unique blend of casual luxury and hospitality that comes from the heart that really sets JA Resorts & Hotels apart. In that sense I believe that the natural hospitality and warmth that the Sri Lankan people are famous for will be nicely complemented by our own service standards. “We also have many expatriate Sri Lankans working with us both in Dubai and in our resorts in Maldives and Seychelles and many of them are also excited at the prospect of returning to Sri Lanka and working with us,” JA Resorts Director of Hospitality Projects, Development and Acquisitions, William Harley-Fleming explained.

The resort is currently in the middle of a detailed phase of planning and conceptualizing, a process which Gravity Resort Group Director Deepal Ahangama stated was being designed with the aim of meeting LEED Gold standards which he stated would in time be improved up towards LEED Platinum standard. Construction on the project is targeted to commence by the end of 2015 and reach completion in the final quarter of 2017. Gravity Resort Group is a venture between local Sri Lankan partners and multinational investment firm, Gravity Investment Group. The company with together with its partners has invested in multiple countries ranging from mixed use Caribbean resorts to residential developments and social care in the United Kingdom. JA Resorts was established in 1981 with the creation of its two flagship properties, JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel and the Hatta Fort Hotel in Dubai, and has since expanded to form seven resorts including JA Manafaru in the Maldives and Enchanted Island in Seychelles.

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