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Uncover Sri Lanka’s Hidden Gems with Henrietta

Travel Designer Henrietta spent 10 incredible days in Sri Lanka exploring the best this country has to offer. From its iconic tea trails and wildlife to exploring Ayurvedic rituals and trying her hand at cooking a classic Sri Lankan curry, Henrietta got to the heart of this island to aid her in dreaming up new experiences for clients.

“My trip to Sri Lanka was to uncover the country through a series of immersive experiences and gain a more in-depth understanding of the properties we would recommend. This in turn would enable us to create memorable and bespoke itineraries for our clients.”

Known as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka lies just off the coast of India. The country encapsulates diversity like no other, from its pristine beaches that stretch for miles, to the misty mountains adorned with emerald tea plantations and ancient cities steeped in history.

Adventure to secluded locations to hike, bike or kayak, or indulge in the lap of luxury at world-class resorts and boutique hotels. Immerse yourself in exquisite wellness retreats where ancient Ayurvedic traditions rejuvenate mind, body, and soul.

But wherever you stay and whatever you do, it’s the warmth and genuine hospitality of Sri Lanka’s people that will stay with you long after you leave, as Henrietta quickly discovered. Every traveller is welcomed with open arms and gentle smiles, making Sri Lanka a truly special destination.

Henrietta Sri Lanka Henrietta Sri Lanka
Henrietta Sri Lanka Henrietta Sri Lanka

Unique Experiences and Properties

During her time in Sri Lanka, Henrietta drove around Sri Lanka checking out both brand-new properties and existing ones. Alongside expert guides, activities directly from these properties ranged from tea tasting and cookery classes on the beach to kayaking and biking around the diverse landscape.

From private tented lodges and wellness retreats nestled in the jungle, to 18th-century manor houses that make you feel as if you are staying in a traditional governor’s abode, Sri Lanka has a wide variety of properties. Tried, tested and highly recommended by our experts.

Ceylon Tea Trails

Perched high in the hills of Sri Lanka’s tea region, this sprawling tea estate feels like you’re stepping back in time. With five authentic tea planters’ bungalows, each with its own charm and incredible views, this is the ideal place for trekking and biking against the breathtaking backdrop of Sri Lanka’s mountains, lakes and waterfalls.

“My journey began by stepping back in time at the heavenly Ceylon Tea Trails, a collection of five historic tea planter residences dotted around Castlereagh Lake in the resplendent tea country. Amidst these blissful surroundings, I was fortunate enough to have an entire 5-bedroom bungalow to myself, complete with a wonderful team of staff, who made sure every wish and whim was met. Upon arrival, I was greeted by my personal butler who ensured a seemingly endless flow of freshly brewed tea by day and crisp G&Ts by night. An utterly spoiling experience! Unsurprisingly, tea is a dominating feature here – think delicate tea-infused dinners, walks amongst the plantations and an immersive experience at the nearby tea factory, guided by local character Bernard, who is the eyes and ears of the place having worked there for a remarkable 52 years.

One of the most popular activities here is a guided walk through the trails to explore the scenery of Sri Lanka’s tea country. In the company of a guide, Henrietta discovered the broad spectrum of biodiversity that exists in this region, as the plantations are interspersed with forest patches home to a variety of flora and fauna (think endemic amphibians, birds and leopards). After an extraordinary afternoon off the beaten path, she came back to her bungalow where she enjoyed a tea-infused dinner – a signature culinary experience unique to Tea Trails. From Earl Grey cured fresh salmon, Moroccan Mint tea-crusted lamb cutlets, and vanilla panna cotta with fruit and hibiscus tea sauce, it was the perfect end to the day.

Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Sitting on a rugged beach on the edge of Yala National Park, in the southeast of the country, is where you’ll find Wild Coast Tented Lodge. This chic safari lodge is comprised of 28 cocoon-like tents along the edge of the jungle and beach, forming the shape of a leopard’s paw – the creature that so many guests come here in search of. When you’re not off on game drives, unwind in the pool, the bar, or the restaurant where you can enjoy a modern take on traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.

“My next stop provided a stark contrast as I was whisked off to Yala National Park to stay at Wild Coast Tented Lodge. Entirely different in aesthetics, yet impressively created by the same mastermind who dreamt up Ceylon Tea Trails and Cape Weligama, the property seamlessly blends into its rugged surroundings with cool and quirky touches, such as an entrance gate disguised as a fallen tree. In keeping with the natural environment, wild animals roam freely here, something which became particularly apparent when an elephant wandered onto the beach during our candle-lit dinner, and we were rapidly encouraged to make way for the large mammal. Many other animal sightings were had during game drives and nature walks, with the closest encounter occurring during an outdoor cooking class which became extremely popular with hungry resident monkeys.

After a few days in the mountains, Henrietta was ready to explore Sri Lanka’s abundant wildlife. From the comfort of a jeep, she headed into the depths of Yala National Park for a safari. Sri Lanka’s most famous National Park, you can expect to see elephants, leopards (it boasts the world’s highest concentration of leopards per square kilometre), sloth bears, crocodiles, and wild boar.

A visit to this vibrant country wouldn’t be complete without getting hands-on in the kitchen, and Henrietta excitedly participated in a cookery class where she mixed her own spices, seasoned the ingredients, and cooked her own lunch under the watchful eye of one of the property’s chefs.

Cape Weligama

A stunning clifftop resort across 12 acres above the Indian Ocean, Cape Weligama’s 39 rooms are spread out village-style, where each villa comes complete with an attentive butler. Enjoy beaches just steps away, or while away the hours marvelling at the incredible panoramic views from the cliff-edge infinity pool.

“My time in Sri Lanka culminated with a few days on the southern coast. Staying at both Cape Weligama and Haritha Villas, days were spent taking early-morning yoga classes amidst nature, cycling in the verdant jungle, strolling palm-fringed beaches and roaming the streets of wonderous Galle Fort alongside a spirited guide, Praveen. The fortified city is a true spectacle to behold, cloaked in historical charm yet infused with modern-day culture. My discovery of Galle was certainly the most engaging part of the trip, with Praveen recounting fascinating stories about Sri Lanka’s past and present.

Staying at Cape Weligama, Henrietta was given the chance to explore the fishing town of Weligama, one of Sri Lanka’s most alluring seaside retreats. With this as her base, she traversed the south of the country by bike, passing through contemporary and rural villages and through lush green paddy fields. On route, she witnessed the lifestyle of the south, including coir processing and coconut, cinnamon, and tea plantations. Returning to Cape Weligama, she was treated to a well-deserved spa treatment before a cliff-edge dinner offering dramatic vistas and panoramic Indian Ocean views.

Haritha Villas & Spa

The aptly named Haritha Villas & Spa (‘haritha’ means green in Sinhala), is a gorgeous hideaway nestled in a jungle paradise. Here, a number of private villas and mansions ooze tranquillity and combine modern design and luxury with the authenticity of the country to create a truly special experience. Everything here is super personalised, from meals customised to your tastes to the holistic wisdom imparted by the resident Ayurvedic doctor.

While the other properties offer experiences that get you out and about exploring the surrounding landscape, Haritha Spa & Villas invites guests to relax and unwind in luxurious isolation. And that’s exactly what Henrietta did. Fittingly putting ‘spa’ alongisde ‘villas’ in their name, this is an incredible destination spa spotlighting Ayurveda. Pre-treatment, one of two resident Ayurvedic doctors work with each guest on a bespoke plan for not only pampering but on spiritual alignment and growth. Beyond the herbal soaks and hot oil treatments Henrietta enjoyed, the yoga lessons overlooking the lake and meditation sessions at the local monastery offered another chance to disconnect from the outside world.

Henrietta Sri Lanka

Her top tip for travellers considering Sri Lanka?

“Arrive hungry! Sri Lankan cuisine is undeniably delicious, but portion sizes tend to be quite large, and locals have a way of encouraging you to order more than is often necessary.”


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