The Fortress Resort and Spa: A luxurious experience

Untitled-1Untitled-2Untitled-3 By Shannine Daniel

Nestled atop the rocky outcrop of the Koggala beach is The Fortress Resort and Spa. Given its close proximity to the famous surfing hotspot and the town of Galle itself and its many attractions, the hotel has done very well over the past nine years it has been in operation.

Completed in 2007, it is a modern luxury boutique resort centred on the concept of the Galle Fort and had a total of 49 rooms at first. The Fortress Director and General Manager Jan Van Twest revealed that at the time it was one of the oldest small luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

Bearing the influence of both colonial Dutch and Portuguese styled architecture and old-fashioned Sri Lankan motifs and furnishings, the hotel blends together both ancient and modern cultural and architectural elements. The massive wooden door at its entrance, the sweeping staircases on either side that lead directly to the second level of the resort, the tall rounded wooden pillars and shingled roof seem to echo that of the ancient and historic fort in Galle, which is indeed one of our country’s most prominent cultural and historical landmarks.

As of now the resort has a total of 53 rooms and suites, and while that may not be a large number, the management and staff made it quite clear to us that they place great importance on quality and providing a comfortable experience for their guests, many of them being visitors from foreign countries.

There are a total of 240 employees working at The Fortress, and according to The Fortress Business Development Manager Manoj Devaraj, this means that there are about four to five staff members taking care of the guests in each room.

Devaraj stated that 40% of the resort’s clientele is from the UK. It is the biggest market for the hotel, with Sri Lanka coming next in line, having replaced Russia which was the second highest market till 2013. He added that India and China are now two of the emerging markets for The Fortress, with an increase in the number of guests from said countries over the past few years.

About 350 upmarket clients repeatedly visit The Fortress Resort every year and in order to ensure these frequent visitors are content, the hotel is therefore refurbished every year.

“What our customers like best about the hotel is the size of the rooms and the amenities, because we offer the best of brands, plus the free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the spa facilities,” Devaraj emphasised.

The rooms

Untitled-4Most of the rooms and suites have been designed carefully to comprise a private balcony or courtyard with a full view of the hotel’s garden or the breath-taking view of the Koggala beach. They are distinctly two-toned with dark woods such as mahogany and teak floors in contrast with white and cream furnishings and seem to be very private, and not to mention comfortable.

The hotel pays a great deal of attention to make sure their guests are satisfied and they certainly don’t stint when it comes making sure their customers have the best amenities and services at hand. The rooms come with both air-conditioning and ceiling fans, seven feet by seven feet super king sized beds with Egyptian cotton bedding, espresso making machines, in-room safes, open plan bathrooms with luxurious white marble bath tubs and bath menus as well as the latest entertainment systems with plasma screen TVs and Bose or Geneva DVD players and surround sound.

The Fortress features six varied types of rooms and residences, namely The Fortress Rooms, Beach Rooms, Ocean Rooms, Beach Splash Rooms, Ocean Lofts and Fortress Residences.

The Fortress Rooms: These rooms are the cheapest and one of the most popular of the resort’s rooms and they open onto a private courtyard or garden balcony, and feature a spacious open plan bathroom with twin headed shower and marble bath tub.

Beach Rooms: Located on the ground floor, these rooms have direct access to the gardens, swimming pool, beach and sea which is the main reason why it is a customer favourite. The rooms feature a split-level living area and an open plan bathroom complete with marble bathtub and rainfall shower. They can accommodate either three adults or two adults and two children.

Beach Splash Rooms: This category of room is much similar to the beach rooms except they have enclosed bathrooms and the addition of a four-foot-long attached indoor plunge pool and also comes with personal butler service. These rooms are popular with guests on their honeymoon or those who want some extra privacy.

Ocean Rooms: Similar in size and containing similar amenities as with the Beach Rooms and Beach Splash Rooms, these rooms are also quite popular with visitors. They are located on the upper floor of the resort and feature high vaulted ceilings and attached Jacuzzis overlooking the sea.

Ocean Lofts: At double the size of a Beach or Ocean Room, the Ocean Lofts run from the first to the second floor, connected by a wooden staircase near the entrance. On the ground floor is a large living room with indoor plunge pool, day bed, plasma screen TV and high quality sound systems and a bathroom, while the bedroom on the second floor has an additional day bed and a bathroom en-suite with both rainfall and wall showers. The resort plans to introduce an IPV TV system for these rooms in future, where customers will have the benefit of ordering their menus and surfing the internet etc. via their TV.

Fortress Residences: The two Fortress Residences are located on opposite sides of the upper floor; each 240sqm Residence features two bedrooms, bathrooms with built-in TVs, a separate living room, entertainment area with cinema-screen sized TV, and a dining deck and a 10-foot-long private plunge pool with a great view of the beach outside. Guests staying in the Residences also have 24-hour private butler services. The residences are mainly popular with foreigners regularly visiting the country on business.

The Spa

The Spa is of course a prominent element of the resort that draws a large number of clients, from far and wide. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the spa is the fact that it is the first and only Sri Lankan Spa which contains a DXA machine that can scan and identify the fat deposits in a person’s body.

The Spa spans both floors of the hotel, and contains six dual spa suites, relaxation spaces, a steam room, and a small garden with a water feature, a yoga pavilion and a fitness studio. Both classical and Ayurvedic treatments are employed and the therapists and practitioners prepare their own treatments and make use of Sothys products as well.

To complete the whole Zen experience a concept called the ‘twilight spa’ has also been introduced; in the evening the equipment used in the spa is taken in to the garden along with the treatments so that the clients may feel more relaxed and at peace in the outdoor environment.

The food 

The Fortress has a wide range when it comes to its cuisine comprising of Sri Lankan specialties, innovative international cuisine and signature cocktails. Even though there are three restaurants, there is only one main dining area, which is partly terraced and located adjoining the tree-lined pool. The hotel also promotes private dining experiences in the gardens, on the beach or in the rooms.

Untitled-7There are three restaurants located at The Fortress. ‘Pepper’ is the main restaurant which features both buffet meals and al la carte dishes of signature International cuisines and authentic Sri Lankan specialities and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Outdoor restaurant ‘Heat’ brings the tastes of the Mediterranean by presenting tapas and authentic pizzas from the wood-fired clay oven.

The fine dining restaurant called ‘Duo’ which serves up surf and turf menu, is housed in a glass cellar and contains a selection of over 2,000 wines which can be arranged exclusively for 12 guests.

High teas are served in T-lounge on the first floor of the hotel. The guests are guided through Sri Lanka’s finest selection of teas by a resident tea taster accompanied by pastries and cheesecake.

The ocean-facing Sea Lounge offers a huge selection of mock tails and cocktails and snacks and features   neon blue lights, lounge seating, swing chairs and a live jazz band on the weekends.

Additional facilities 

Other than the Spa, the resort also has several other services available to make their visitors feel more at home and relaxed and happy. These include the gym facilities and fitness centre, free yoga and water aerobics classes available twice a week, and also a wide variety of kids’ activities such as games, boat rides and visiting the rain forest or the turtle hatcheries.

The Fortress also caters to small scale weddings that comprise of about 40 to 50 guests, and has an outdoor area complete with a pavilion to host the wedding party and the guests and also provides the photographers and musicians and even the traditional drummers and the dancers needed for a Sri Lankan wedding.

It also provides facilities for conferences since it is located close to the Koggala airstrip and the free trade zone and can accommodate up to 50 people in its conference room. Devaraj mentioned that the GSK regional conference as well as a conference organised by Marks and Spencer were recently held at The Fortress’s conference hall.

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Pix by Gitika Talukdar

The Fortress launches exotic and sumptious Sea Food Buffet on Weekends

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Taking full advantage of the readily-available varieties of sea food that are found at Koggala The Fortress recently began focusing on a new concept in dining for its guests and the customers visiting the resort specifically for the food, since the resort is popular for its seafood dishes. This new concept brings two of Koggala’s infamous specialties, the emperor prawn and the king crab, in to the spotlight.

“We want to give our customers the best we can offer,” said Fortress Resort and Spa Executive Chef Kumar Warnakula.

The seafood experience begins on Saturday night and goes on till Sunday night, targeting those who have journeyed down south from Colombo to enjoy the weekend which the main reason why Sunday’s lunch buffet is different from what is served on the rest of the week, stated Warnakula.

Sunday’s lunch buffet is a small spread but with a lot of variety of dishes from diverse cuisines; Sri Lankan and Indian style curries, Emperor Prawn and King Crab centred pastas and a few other Western style dishes, Malaysian rice dishes, chicken satays and prawn kebabs, seafood cocktails and even separate sections for Japanese sushi and sashimi and Indian and Sri Lankan staples such as naan and chapathi and hoppers.

There are 20 different desserts available for the buffet; varied dishes such as baked Alaska, French pastries, cupcakes, slices of cut, fresh fruits, caramel pudding, mint pudding, coffee flavoured mousse, fruit filled tarts with cream and strawberry panna cotta and each dessert is equally delicious and vibrantly colourful.

“We always try to make something different on Sundays,” stated award-winning The Fortress Resort and Spa Executive Chef Asanka Wickremesinghe.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/563827/The-Fortress-Resort-and-Spa–A-luxurious-experience#sthash.VJZqcM78.dpuf

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