JACK – THE UNKNOWN SRI LANKAN
- November 26, 2021
JACK – THE UNKNOWN SRI LANKAN
I’ve lived in Sri Lanka since the prehistoric period. Like so many of my closest relatives, many…Read More
The spacious rooms of colonial villas housed Sri Lankans for more than 400 years. They have outlived and adapted throughout five periods of cultural change. Middle Eastern traders sourced exotic spices from the island to embalm Egyptian Pharaohs. Bearing these precious gifts along trade routes into Europe opened the nostrils and wallets of the greatest sea trading cultures of the day.
Prior to the Portuguese colonisation in the name of the Pope, Chinese Buddhists are known to have maintained an embassy in Sri Lanka. Artefacts from 452 – 1346 highlight cultural exchanges. Portuguese architecture, genes, language and surnames reveal the impact of their rule over the Spice Route. The rise of the Dutch East India Company and its colonisation of much of Indonesia and Sri Lanka created a new style of colonial villa unique to the region.
Rooms were designated different purposes; ceilings became higher, materials adapted to accommodate the tropical climate.
Finally, it was the British Colonial Period which stamped a new lifestyle into the Sri Lankan landscape. Glass improved light in traditionally dark rooms. Renown architects developed designs that improved natural airflow and ventilation. As a result, villas have room to move, with larger doors and windows, and higher ceilings. The villa staff were provided with on-site quarters, cottages and service areas.
Following Sri Lanka’s independence in 1946, the colonial villas set on tea, spice and coconut plantations, in ancient forts, ports and regional towns remained. Sri Lankan adopted British Colonial Life. Since the end of the Civil War in 2009, the major architectural shift has been greater openness with larger glass windows and French doors. Living and sleeping areas now enjoy expansive views of the countryside, the swimming pool or ocean. Sri Lanka in the 21st century sees large villas with rooms that allow everyone to move in as a status symbol of wealth and power.
The villa experience in Sri Lanka requires a designer bathroom that will wash away the grime of the road at the end of the first day. From then on, the bathroom becomes your private pamper place; your luxuriating bath, showers that cool, a place of bodily refreshment. Scented soaps, natural shampoos and spiced conditioners unlock the heart of Sri Lanka’s fresh scents.
Retiring to your bedroom, the expansive beds safely cocooning you beneath flowing mosquito nets provide total rest and relaxation. Air conditioning may be a requirement for some, yet most guests who arrive in the tropics appreciate the tropical warmth beneath silent ceiling fans. Your colonial villa’s location will determine the night sounds; the peacocks of the paddy fields or the barking gecko of populated zones. Birds or monkeys are sure to stir during the night in complete harmony to the background music of the crickets.
Cool during the day, with natural breezes gently swaying the mosquito nets, your private room is also an ideal place to read, relax or enjoy an afternoon siesta.
The reuse of spaces to create interesting massage or spa rooms provide a totally private pamper place for guests. Although not all villas support a massage room, those that do range from exotic to stunning. Views across the pool, paddies, plantations, beaches, lake or jungle enhance the massage experience. Ayurvedic traditions using oil drips or special formulations are unique to Sri Lanka’s massage and natural therapy traditions.
Don’t panic if your villa doesn’t have a designated spa room. Often bedrooms have so much room to move, that they easily support a portable table. However, you will not be the first guest to request a massage, which can be provided on-site or at luxurious venues recommended by your villa manager.
Through a combination of design and history, your villa kitchen will often be rather grand and able to cater to a wide variety of dietary requests and standards. At home, you may be familiar with the room where you prepare food. In your villa, however, the dedicated staff team ensure you don’t have to even know where the kitchen is!
There is a purpose behind this. When you are invited into the kitchen it is to provide you insight into the traditional meals created therein. Although you may well be familiar with food preparation in your own kitchen, it is almost certain that you will not be familiar with the range of local produce and how it is used in various dishes.
In addition to the traditional kitchen, many colonial villas now support a BBQ area. Whether you prefer vegetarian BBQs, fish, chicken or red meats, all have a range of local additions that ensure a Sri Lankan BBQ is something that your taste buds will remember long after you leave the island.
The sheer size of the dining and lounge rooms will be the first thing you notice on arrival. They are large to accommodate exquisite furniture pieces, relaxing lounges and dining tables fit for a queen. This ensures the whole group can enjoy a single mealtime. Open spaces allow for easy staff access and a key element to dining room design.
Height and space, fans that cool and food which is tropically fresh create dining experiences which your tastebuds will recall long after you depart Sri Lanka. To start your day, breakfast sets the sour, smokey taste of buffalo curd against the delicate sweetness of kithul syrup. This is followed by seasonal fruit, juices, teas and coffee. With minimal effort you can move from the dining room and enjoy a casual lunch poolside.
The evening meal showcases the dining room in its finest atmosphere. Gentle lights, fans, incense or oil diffusers create a visual and olfactory backdrop to the day’s major meal. Firstly, entres, followed by drinks and main dishes which are often based on the harvest seasons.
No, not the toilet!
Sri Lankan colonial villas have staff quarters either on the property or close by. Your night-watcher, cook, cleaner and gardener may spend some or all their time in the staff room or zone. When you leave your bedroom, your laundry will simply disappear. Fresh towels as required will be available for your bathroom and poolside.
The staff zone allows staff to maintain the villa. Hidden in the staff zone are equipment storerooms, independent bathrooms and often even a ‘chill out’ room.
Another key feature of the Colonial Villas in Sri Lanka collection is the view from within your room, gardens or poolside. Sri Lanka’s hill country villas overlook valleys, plantations and even waterfalls. On the other hand, lakeside villas offer superb sunrise and sunsets.
Beachside villas dot the coastline, yet provide the feeling of owning a private beach. There are small coves, reefs or endless stretches of sand. These are showcased by the collection of available colonial villa accommodation. Whereas villas with pools provide safe venues for those travelling with children. Whilst those in far-flung places afford guests ultimate luxury.