Elmo Leonard, courtesy of The Sunday Observer, where the title is” Heritance Kandalama achieves 64% occupancy in December”
How did Heritance Kandalama (earlier Kandalama Hotel) reach an occupancy rate of 64 percent for December 2006, amidst so much adverse publicity levelled against this island in recent months? And, this achievement is even more singular, considering that for December 2005 her occupancy was 84 percent? Heritance Kandalama is more than a fairy tale, and supersedes the ageless Sleeping Beauty, where human and animal life of a kingdom went into hibernation for a century while the trees continued to grow wild. This spell was broken when a handsome prince discovered the dormant city, and drawn by the splendour of the princess in slumber, kissed her, reactivating life.
Kandalama is in the environs of Dambulla, the rock hue temple, built by a king of Sri Lanka’s first recorded capital, Anuradhapura, reminding of his exile, in that place. It is also just 25 kilometres from Sigiriya, where a rock fortress is reputed as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’ built by a patricidal king, with a very rare and refined sense of artistry.
This is also part of the island’s dry zone, most of which is called Raja Rata or the country where the kings dwelt. Around, here, abound Giritale with its irrigation water body. Polonnaruwa built by the greatest king of Sri Lanka, and countless irrigation tanks, temples and settlements, very little of which has been uncovered. Below this hospitality unit is a giant irrigation waterway, the Kandalama Wewa built by King Wasaba and reconstructed by Sri Lanka’s first prime minister D. S. Senanayake, which is incorporated into the landscape.
Sri Lanka’s architect with a longing for the natural, Geoffery Bawa hovering on helicopter, found this location, 160 kilometres from Colombo. He shrouded the one-kilometre long building, of seven levels, into the hills, glens, rocks, flora and everything else that nature has offered. The entrance to the hotel and reception area is part of a rock.And, people would just come here, even to marvel at the wedlock of mother nature with human ingenuity.
Thus, Heritance Kandalama a 5 Star hotel, oasis in the jungle, reactivated following many centuries of dormancy is much more than a mere fairy tale. Besides, it bears all the sophisticated features, by which man communicates. It is evident that the flora here does not comprise wild trees, but, artistic types, with the banyan abounding. And, this just points to the existence of an ancient park.
The hotel takes its visitors to the rock caves, temples and to Purana Gama or ancient village standing the way it did, with mud-and-thatch, in eras gone by, so the visitor comes back, or tells others.Here, you can see the peasant, live off the earth, as they did, burning trees and growing vegetables, converting palm sap into treacle. Then, there are the archaeological excursions, elephant rides, cycling tours and nature walks. Also, three swimming pools, one carved out of rock.
Three types of monkeys run around and pay no respect to you. The gliding eagles, the elephant haunts, the percussion of bird songs, the jazz of insects at night, and again at dawn, the splendour of the peacock are but a few.
Heritance Kandalama adheres to the 3 R Principle, reduce, recycle and reuse, and even the water is purified and used for gardening. Smoking is discouraged. The awards Heritance Kandalama has received are too many to recount, suffice to say, Green Globe 21 Certified Hotel, First hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious Leeds Green Building Certified Hotel award, Thomas Gold Medal, PATA Green Leaf Environment, SAGA Good Food Award, ISO 2200 and HACCP Certification. The cuisine is local and foreign and wide in every variety.
There is the Six Sense Spa, managed by a Thai company. Rooms: 71 superior; 33 luxury; 33 deluxe 14 suites. For recreation: billiards, tennis, table tennis library, golf, volleyball and indoor games.Other facilities: conference, room service, laundry, business centre, shopping arcade children’s play area and doctor on call.