There are not many things that captivate people as much as uncharted territory. For the discerning traveller, a place that has been on every guidebook and Instagram feed instantly becomes less intriguing. Somehow it just feels much more exciting to explore an off-the-grid or unconventional locale — not to mention the bragging rights you’d have when it comes to documenting your trip on social media.
When it comes to new destinations, Sri Lanka is the new mysterious kid on the block. Ever since it emerged from the civil war in 2009, the country has been opening up steadily to tourism — and with good reason. Boasting lush tea plantations, powder sand beaches and elephant safaris, what was once an ancient trading port is now Southeast Asia’s best-kept secret.
There have been many illustrious individuals in history who fell in love with the charm of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. An example is famed Italian explorer Marco Polo, who described Sri Lanka as the “best island of its size in the world.” He must have been onto something, as the island’s tourism numbers have been increasing over the years, alongside hotel chains launching new properties in the country.
There have also been news of a certain boutique hotel brand launching its first Sri Lankan hotel in 2018, but details are still kept under wraps. But if you’re already planning a trip to the region this year, there are many other hotels worth visiting. From stunning safari lodges to an idyllic wellness resort, check out these new hotels in Sri Lanka to book in 2017.
Opening: October 2017
Situated in Yala National Park in southeastern Sri Lanka, Wild Coast Tented Lodge offers a safari-style wilderness experience without compromising on luxury. Guests will stay in 28 vaulted luxurious cocoon tents designed by Nomadic Resorts, each featuring four-poster beds, teak floors and canvas walls and double-height glass facades that blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape — treating guests to awe-inspiring jungle views.
The property is equipped with a restaurant and an alfresco bar, where guests can enjoy authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, sundowner cocktails and picnics on the sand dunes.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala, Palatupana, Yala 82600, Sri Lanka
Launched: End 2016
Sri Lanka’s first high-end wellness resort, Santani offers Ayurvedic-based spa treatments and bespoke holistic programmes on a vast former tea estate. This hilltop sanctuary, located 2,800 metres above sea level, takes wellness to new heights — quite literally. Boasting sixteen elevated rooms with surrounding jungle valley views and distant mountains, as well as two double room villas that face out to lush paddy terraces of Santani, the resort makes for a truly luxurious wellness retreat.
Santani Wellness Resort & Spa, Aratenna Estate, 00013, Sri Lanka
Opening: November 2017
Located along the Galle Face Green promenade, Shangri-La Hotel Colombo will offer panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and sit on 10 acres of land housing an office tower, two residential buildings and a high-end shopping mall.
Once opened, the hotel will offer 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites, ranging in size from 42 to 225 square metres, 41 serviced apartments, five distinct restaurants and lounges, a 10-room signature spa, 24-hour fitness centre, and a swimming pool and bar that overlook the Galle Face Green and the Indian Ocean.
Shangri-La Hotel Colombo, 01, Centre Road Galle Face, Colombo 02, Colombo 00200, Sri Lanka
Launched: December 2016
This contemporary and stylish boutique hotel offers the ultimate Sri Lankan beach getaway. Owned by internationally renowned interior designer George Cooper, KK Beach is located on the west side of Habaraduwa, just 12 kilometres from Galle — and boasts an endless coastline at its doorstep.
Indulge in barefoot luxury at this gorgeous property — with rooms that feature full-length sliding glass panels, so you get uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean. The ground floor of the property will also house a restaurant serving seafood, traditional Sri Lankan curries, and Western dishes with a local twist. Additionally, the hotel features artwork commissioned from Sri Lankan artists, giving the locals an opportunity to showcase their talents.
KK Beach, Matara Road, Matara, Sri Lanka
Launched: Early 2016
Sri Lanka’s first truly contemporary sustainable luxury design hotel, Tri is located on the shores of Koggala Lake — Sri Lanka’s largest natural lake. The hotel offers the best of both worlds, boasting proximity to the best beaches in the south, and a six-acre hill of lush natural beauty.
The hotel was designed by award-winning architect, Raefer Wallis of A00 Architects, who was inspired by its surroundings and all-encompassing sustainable philosophy. The property — including its 11 suites — features living walls, green roofs, solar arrays, edible gardens and entirely local materials, making it the epitome of eco-sustainability.
Hotel Tri, Koggala Lake, Aladuwa Watte, Pelassa, Thitthagalle, Ahangama 80650, Sri Lanka