Sri Lanka’s swaying coconut palms, white sands, Buddhist temples and impossibly green tea plantations make it one seriously photogenic island. You’ll struggle to find its bad angle, and as you sit by the infinity pool overlooking Amanwella‘s private beach, watching the sun slide into the Indian Ocean, you’ll wonder if you’ve found its best…
The resort, which is minutes from the town of Tangalle on Sri Lanka’s south coast, is made up of just 27 suites, all housed in airy bungalows dotted along the winding pathways that meander through the grove. Instead of trying to compete with the scenery (a losing battle), Amanwella has embraced a simple, stripped back aesthetic that lets the idyllic surroundings take centre stage.
You can slide back glass doors on either side of your suite to let the sunshine and the sound of the waves pour in. On one side you’ll find a wide balcony with a view of the palms and the crashing waves beyond, on the other; a private plunge pool and day bed.
Amanwella is great at the little touches; woven sun hats hand-made on the island await guests checking into their suites, along with pretty frangipani blooms, delicious manioc crisps and freshly baked coconut cookies.
Guests here are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to relax. Park yourself beside the infinity pool, and you can drink in the spectacular view as well as a fresh coconut water from the main house, or head to the library stocked with books and board games (look out for Nero, the hotel dog, most often found snoozing in a patch of shade). Choose the beach, and you’ll be disturbed only by the occasional fisherman making his way to the water. There’s also a club house on the sand serving lunch and drinks. If that’s still not secluded enough, head back to your suite and lounge beside your own private plunge pool.
End your day with a spa treatment, which you can have in your suite, in Amanwella’s dedicated spa bungalow, or even al fresco in the coconut grove – the sound of nature definitely beats a CD of pan pipe instrumentals.
There is just one restaurant in the main house at Amanwella, plus the club house down on the beach. If you’d like to try something different, the staff can arrange private dinners on the sand for couples or groups. Super fresh seafood features heavily, and you’ll find plenty of traditional Sri Lankan dishes like egg hoppers, curries and sambals. The evening menu features some international fare, but it was the earthy curries that won us over – specifically a spicy fish curry made with yellowfin tuna, served with string hoppers (rice noodle nests) and a side of tangy sambal. The banana pancakes are a must-try too.
If you’re staying for a while, you might feel compelled to tear yourself away from the resort at some point, although we can’t pretend it won’t be a struggle. The staff can recommend restaurants nearby (and arrange drivers to take you there), or organise nature walks or outings to local markets, temples or sights like the nearby Ho-o-maniya blowhole. You can go whale watching or surfing if the time of year is right, and Amanwella can also help to arrange more lavish excursions like helicopter trips around the island.
Amanwella and the area around it has plenty of activities on offer, but really it’s the perfect spot to check out of the real world for a few days and recharge your batteries. It struck us an ideal hideout for celebs seeking a little respite from the spotlight, and staff confirmed the resort has hosted high profile guests in the past. They wouldn’t be drawn on who though (spoilsports). We didn’t spot any famous faces during our stay, but that just gives us yet another excuse to go back…
Suites at Amanwella start at Dhs3,305 per night plus local taxes.