Direct Nepal-SL flight ‘hopeful’ in the near future

Nepal will re look at launching direct flights to Colombo once again said the Ambassador of Nepal, Professor Bishwambher Pyakurya.

Speaking to Daily News Business at the Sri Lanka-Nepal Friendship and Business Council networking event under the title, “Foreign Investment Opportunities in Nepal,” in Colombo he said that this matter is discussed once again.

“The air link between Colombo and Kathmandu had previously been tried by Himalayan Airlines but was discontinued after flights reached only 40% capacity.”

Whether or not a direct flight between Kathmandu and Colombo would be established in the near future were also the most pertinent questions of the evening.

Many at the event and senior officials from the tourism industry in Nepal and Sri Lanka made the point that both countries could capitalize on their tourist seasons, which flow into one another.

A direct flight between Kathmandu and Colombo may be more viable with a stopover in an Indian destination to increase capacity a participant said.

The evening also focused on strengthening economic ties between Sri Lanka and Nepal through infrastructure, energy, and tourism.

The four-member panel at the event included President of the Sri Lanka Nepal Council Jagath Savanadasa, Professor of Economics at the University of Colombo Dr. Sirimal Abeyratne, and President of SL’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ruwan Edirisinghe.

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Arugam Bay shines in Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia list 2018

  • Global travel authority Lonely Planet has revealed its 2018 Best in Asia list – an agenda-setting collection of the continent’s 10 best destinations to visit in the year ahead

For this third annual Best in Asia list, Lonely Planet’s in-house Asia experts have named “eclectic” and “vibrant” Busan, South Korea, as the number one destination; while the jewelled architecture and ancient cities of Uzbekistan are in second place; and in third comes Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, “a supercity that somehow keeps getting cooler”.

Arugam Bay comes in at number 8. “This surf town on Sri Lanka’s east coast…has managed to retain its cool as holidaymakers swarm the rest of the country’s ancient citadels and hiker-strewn hill stations. Barefooted boarders sprawl outside vegan cafes…but if the turquoise swells can’t tug you in, Arugam has grown its on-land offering with…beachside bars and makeshift music festivals; plus a handy proximity to Kumana National Park, home to leopards, elephants and crocodiles.”

“Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone dreaming of an escape,” Lonely Planet’s Asia-Pacific Media Spokesperson Chris Zeiher says. “Our experts have combed through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months.”

“From Nagasaki in Japan, to Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka,” Chris says, “this is a line-up to inspire a multitude of travellers – whether they’re based in Asia, or maybe they’ve already visited some of the region’s heavy-hitting destinations.”

1. Busan, South Korea

“A stunning confluence of scenery, culture and cuisine… Busan packs an eclectic offering of activities to suit all travellers: hike hills to Buddhist temples, settle into sizzling hot springs and feast on seafood…at the country’s largest fish market. Poised to steal the spotlight, Busan is East Asia’s Culture City for 2018 and will be at its most vibrant with…colourful events showcasing the country’s cultural heritage, from street art festivals to traditional dance shows.”

2. Uzbekistan

“Change is afoot in a country that has remained largely closed off to the wider world due to tight control following the end of the Soviet era. Uzbekistan has long held sway over travellers’ imaginations, with its dreamy mosaic-clad mosques and Silk Road lore…and in 2017 took huge strides in opening up to tourism, announcing visa-free and e-visa schemes, new air routes and extensions to its shiny high-speed rail line, making access to its arsenal of jewelled architecture and ancient cities easier than ever.”

3. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

“The southern supercity of Ho Chi Minh City somehow keeps getting cooler. Aging apartment blocks are being colonised by vintage clothes stores and independent coffee shops, innovative breweries are fuelling one of the best craft beer scenes in Southeast Asia, and…eclectic venues are strengthening the local music scene. Add in long-standing attractions The War Remnants Museum and a pioneering street food scene…and this buzzing Asian megalopolis is in no danger of going out of style.”

4. Western Ghats, India

“The Western Ghats offer…an atmospheric mirror to Shimla and Darjeeling, with added jungle appeal… coffee, tea and spice plantations, charmingly dated colonial outposts, thundering waterfalls, and a steam-powered mountain railway. These rugged hills are Unesco listed as one of the top spots for biodiversity in the world, protecting the neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years and will be painting the hills in purple livery from August to October 2018.”

5. Nagasaki, Japan

“For most, Nagasaki is synonymous with the tragic atomic bombing of August 1945…but remarkably, the city has converted the catastrophe into a call for peace, exemplified by the tranquil Nagasaki Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. However, Nagasaki’s identity transcends one violent act…visit a new foreign-trade museum housed in Japan’s oldest church, or pass the verdant harbour towards the hiking routes that snake through the surrounding volcanic hills.”

6. Chiang Mai

“This former capital of the Lanna Kingdom feels plucked from the pages of history, where visitors browse stalls of antique jewellery…among archaic alleyways…yet despite this, a young, creative population has taken up residency in Chiang Mai bringing an exciting buzz…alongside majestic chedis (stupas) are cafés known for their latte art, mural-walled fusion cuisine restaurants and the newly-opened, award-winning MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum.”

7. Lumbini, Nepal

“For decades, Lumbini was somewhere travellers flashed through en route from India to Nepal, unaware they had passed within yards of the birthplace of the historical Buddha. Today, Lumbini is on the ascendancy…a new international airport is under construction offering a safer route into Nepal, and ever-more aweing temples are springing up.” Despite these developments, “the town’s cardinal draw will remain its tranquillity.”

9. Sìchun Province, China

“Far-flung villages, towering skylines, giant pandas and fiery cuisine; Sìchun Province is a microcosm of modern China…gain perspective surveying the Lè Shn Grand Buddha or climb Éméi Shn to absolve a lifetime’s sins…ride the first section of the Sìchun-Tibet Railway to visit time-frozen Tibetan villages…or spot the mushrooming of luring brewpubs and boutique hotels in cosmopolitan Chéngd.”

10. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

“New flight connections have made Komodo National Park more accessible than ever. Aside from laying eyes on the illustrious Komodo dragon, visitors to this cerulean-silhouetted archipelago can hike to hallowed viewpoints on Padar, sample laid-back beachside living on Kanawa and dive with a mind-boggling array of marine life in the reefs. A nature enthusiast’s nirvana.”

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Sri Lanka to get third international airport

Sri Lanka is to have a third International Airport that will be constructed in Hingurakgoda as per the master plan that had been drawn up for the development of Trincomalee, which was launched in Colombo yesterday.

The Hingurakgoda International Airport is in line with the vision highlighted in the plan to develop Trincomalee as the Eastern Gateway to Sri Lanka by the year 2050.

“Trincomalee would be re-positioned as the ‘Eastern Tourism Hub with increased regional connectivity realized through the Colombo-Trincomalee economic corridor development and the proposed Hingurakgoda International Airport,” the vision framework of the plan said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the roadmap to develop Sri Lanka as the hub of the Indian Ocean will be completed with this master plan. “When Sri Lanka was a hub in the Indian Ocean in the old days there were several ports. Today we have focused on the Colombo Port and Hambantota. Colombo will be important with the development of the Western part of India as well as the development taking place in Iran. Ships which use the Suez Canal to get to countries such as Singapore go past Hambantota which thus makes developing the Southern Port even more important. Countries in the Bay of Bengal region will develop greatly within the next 20 years. Populations in that region will reach three billion by 2050. Therefore, we will have to develop Trincomalee as the Eastern gate,” he said. He said what was left now was for the government to come up with a development plan for Jaffna.

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Aarunya luxury boutique nature resort and hideaway launches in Kandy

At the halfway point between Kandy and Sigiriya, banked by winding roads that lead to the city of Alawatugoda, lies the idyll retreat Aarunya, which is one of the latest additions to the emerging collection of high-end Sri Lankan boutique properties.

Launched in June 2018, the retreat directly faces the beautiful Knuckles range, lending an immediate advantage to the place, making it a showstopper.

Aarunya which means “First Rays of the Sun” in ancient Sanskrit, can be experienced at this resort location every day during sun rise with the backdrop of the Knuckles mountain range.

A sanctuary to unwind: Coupled with its spellbinding views, Aarunya has nature at its best as the real draw card of the hotel and offers deeply restorative yoga programs conducted by experts in the field. The approach here is reflective of the more classic styles of yoga that are gentle, conscientious and personal, and includes the powerful practice of deep mind and body relaxation. The idea is for guests to leave with a mind that is lighter and more enlightened, and a body that is reinvigorated.

Cosy and relaxed luxury: This hilltop hideaway, a former tea and mixed plantation estate, is also constructed with a touch that is totally eco-friendly. The architect has designed a graceful and dramatic infinity pool and entrance pavilion known as the Central Bungalow, with a stairway that leads to a lobby lounge set out with beautiful interiors that is a celebration of Kandyan art, culture and history.

The four main luxury villas, each with high wooden ceilings, titanium floors, cosy front verandas, and enormous floor-to-ceiling windows permits maximum natural light with spectacular garden, mountain and valley views. These extravagant villas are layered with Sri Lankan antiques and fantastic local art. The spacious rooms each with their own unique pastel colour palette, compliments and enhances the surrounding beauty of the place.

Beyond the regal four-poster beds and wide windows, there are over seven acres of secluded private gardens consisting of mixed spice plantations, fruit trees, organic vegetable patch, tea fields and spa pavilions, begging to be strolled and enjoyed.

The Jacuzzi on the veranda of each luxury villa looks out at misty mountain views, whilst the infinity pool, set in a picturesque manner at the hilltop, reflects the blue and green colours of the mountains and sky.

Guests can take advantage of the splendid isolation by whiling away their afternoons at the poolside, or on the villa verandahs, then sampling some of the true tastes of the island at the open-air restaurant in the Central Bungalow.

Evenings are quiet and velvety. Dining is fine dining alfresco, perfectly suited to the climate of Kandy. Dinner is a theatrical event with candlelight and fine wines paired to the simple but well-executed menu that delivers a generous helping of Sri Lankan hospitality.

One will be hard pressed to find a bad angle in the hotel. One of its best moments can be found in the Central Bungalow with its sweeping views of the mountains banked by the infinity pool, with the entire hotel blending in soothingly with its stunning site. Ever-changing atmospheres and dramatic views of Knuckles spellbound ceaselessly.

Overall, perfect for a romantic getaway, or just to relax for well-heeled spiritual seekers, Aarunya lives up to its promise of great views, a celebration of nature, and eco -friendly practices, coupled with high end comfort that is cosy and luxurious.

The architect of Aarunya, Nath Rankothge, is of Kandy heritage, born in Colombo, raised in Sydney Australia, having lived in more than eight countries, and currently heading an international practice, NRAA ( with offices in Colombo, Chengdu and Sydney.

In Nath’s words: “With love for the mother country we have embarked on this new venture to showcase Sri Lanka to the world.” He added that the master plan was to expand Aarunya to 11 villas and 20 rooms with a natural rock pool, tennis court, world class butler service, and even a helipad for the most discerning of clients.

Nath’s vision is to create a world class, international, hospitality brand beginning with Aarunya, and developing unique hotel and resort properties across the world. He is open to collaborating with similar-minded investors and personalities to make this happen.

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Oman Air to return to the Maldives

Oman Air will resume its service between Muscat and Malé in the Maldives.

Flights will recommence for the winter season from October 28th and will be operated by the new Boeing 737 aircraft.

Oman Air flights from Muscat to Maldives will operate on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the flight from Maldives to Muscat will operate on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The Maldives is a beautiful chain of 26 ring atolls, made up of more than 1,000 coral islands, located only three and a half hours away from Oman.

Well known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, the Maldives is an incredibly popular tourist destination with an increasing number of international visitors arriving year on year.

Abdulaziz Al Raisi, chief executive of Oman Air, said: “We are delighted to be resuming our Maldives route and look forward to welcoming our valued Oman Air guests on board our latest Boeing 737 aircraft.

“We thoroughly encourage our friends from Europe and the rest of our network, flying to the Maldives to stop over and explore Oman en route.

“Our new Maldives service offers holidaymakers the perfect opportunity to explore Muscat, the metropolitan capital of Oman before escaping to the beautiful shores of the Maldives.”

The relaunch of the Maldives service comes at an exciting time, as Oman Air recently started their flights to Istanbul in June with operations scheduled to Casablanca in July and Moscow in October.

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Latest addition to the Fairway Colombo events – Street Latin Night!

Fairway Colombo brought about yet another impressive addition to their series of street events with the introduction of Street Latin Night, the first of which took place on Tuesday 12th June at Hospital Street, Colombo 01.

Leading the inaugural event was Sri Lanka’s own Kasun Dias – founder and principal teacher of Star Latino’s Dance Academy. The dancers took to the streets with renditions of Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba, grooving and moving to the Latin music beats.

The special guest for the night, Nelson Campos is the first internationally acclaimed Kizomba teacher/dance artist to visit Sri Lanka. Known as the Kizomba guru, Nelson is the teacher of teachers, the driving force behind many successful Kizomba teachers and dancers in Asia and around the world. He is visiting Sri Lanka to conduct a series of workshops and tantalized the guests with his tasteful and breathtaking foot-work on the very first evening of his stay.

A throng of onlookers gathered around to watch the dancers as well as join in the fun themselves. Regardless of being beginners or professional Latin dancers, guests simply got on their feet to have a fun filled evening, as Kasun led them through a few basic steps and got everyone dancing.

Street Latin Night is Fairway Colombo’s latest addition to the Hospital Street events calendar, which comprises of the Colombo Street Food Festival, Art & Jazz on the Street, Jam on the Street, Fairway Cultural Show, and Vinyl Night. It will be a regular event taking place on the first Tuesday of every month in collaboration with the National Dancesport Federation of Sri Lanka.

The concept of the street events came from the need to create a great location where people from various walkes of life could come together to celebrate different forms of art and culture. It deviates from the high-end, closed doors cultural events and makes it accessible to everyone by bringing it out in to the streets. The Fairway Colombo Hospital Street events have become equally popular among the locals and foreigners alike. Another unique feature is that all of these events require no entrance fee or cover charge.

Fairway Colombo is a subsidiary of Fairway Holdings, which supports local arts and culture through numerous initiatives.

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IWS aviation launches Lanka’s first aerodrome

Helicopter flying school in conjunction with Swiss Helicopters to open

 Aviation and Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva launching the aerodrome with  Chairman – IWS Holdings Group Arthur Senanayaka. Pictures by Sudath Malaweera
Aviation and Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva launching the aerodrome with Chairman – IWS Holdings Group Arthur Senanayaka. Pictures by Sudath Malaweera

IWS Aviation, launched Sri Lanka’s first privately owned fully fledged aerodrome with an investment of over Rs 200 million in Welisara.

Facilities at the aerodrome include landing and parking spaces, line and base maintenance for Airbus and Bell Helicopters, Aircraft on Ground Help Desk (AOG ) support, crew coordination and Air Operators certificate (AOG) 24/7.

Arthur Senanayake, Chairman – IWS Holdings Group said the hanger can accommodate six helicopters at a time and Sri Lanka’s first private aerodrome is equipped with state of the art facilities which will facilitate private sector sales and maintenance of helicopters utilizing their air operator certificate.

“The company will provide dedicated specialized and qualified service staff and pilots as well as hangar facilities for parking. Moving forward, we intend to establish a helicopter flying school in conjunction with Swiss Helicopters to produce more qualified pilots and enhance their capability to world class standards,” he told Daily News Business.

Senanayake said they are in a position to source brand new helicopters as well as pre owned helicopters with financing packages. IWS Aviation is a subsidiary company of the IWS Holdings Group.

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