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30 January 2015
From an exquisite overwater
bungalow on a remote Pacific
island to a convenient city
centre hotel: there's more
to choosing a room than
simply getting a good
night's sleep. Find one
that's right for you...
Having cut its teeth with Celon Tea Trails in 2005, Dilmah is opening a second hotel, Cape Weligama on the South coast near Galle. This enterprising tea company never intended to be hoteliers, they started by taking informal tours through their tea plantations and Celon Tea Trails evolved from there. It’s not just the guests that the family run business focusses on, a cut of all the profits goes to their charitable foundation helping those affected by the 2004 tsunami and the civil war which ended in 2009.
Art and crafts from the communities supported by foundation will feature in the interiors of Cape Weligama. The 40 villas and suites have been built on a peninsula, with sandy beaches on either side of the headland. And at the cliff-edge is a striking crescent shaped pool which features a bar underneath it. ‘Design-wise, it’s a unique departure for Sri Lanka, away from the familiar style of Geoffrey Bawa and his protégés,’ says Malik Fernando, second generation of this family business. ‘We wanted to do it our way, focusing on one guest at a time.’
All eyes are on St Kitts. At Kittitian Hill, Belle Mont Farm opens with 84 Bill Bensley-designed villas and guesthouses in a refreshingly breezy update on Caribbean style. We want to invite people from across the globe to experience the real West Indies in a place created from an entirely new way of thinking,’ says founder Val Kempadoo. ‘My vision is to bring together community and culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, along with rewarding activities and learning opportunities.'
The clapboard buildings have louvred windows and are surrounded by a tropical kitchen garden, with peanut ground cover and fruit trees with ‘pick-me’ signs hanging in their branches, there’s even an edible golf course.
Not strictly a new opening, but Boulders has been completely transformed from its post-colonial, indigenous look of 2008, to a simple, organic, random design with primitive sculptural forms of the natural world. ‘Think savage, primitive, primal,’ says South African designer Boyd Ferguson, ‘Nothing too structured or obviously man-made.’
For something inspired by primal man, it is sensationally sophisticated, especially the entrance lobby and seating area with its soaring thatched roof seemingly held aloft by clusters of thrusting wooden posts.The deeply calming palate is limited to bone and bleached skull, to the browns found in bark and the metallic sheen of copper, the dark depths of smoky charcoal and ash.
Even the game guides are being encouraged to rethink how they engage with guests: ‘After all, what’s really important is out there,’ says Ferguson, gesturing to the river where elephant and giraffe are drinking contentedly. ‘This is just a backdrop, and will always come second to the natural splendour around us.'
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