Set amidst 145 acres in the South of Sri Lanka, this unique property is a first of its kind in the country.
Words Udeshi Amarasinghe | Photographs Menaka Aravinda
Coconut trees sway to the ocean breeze as you approach passing the salty lagoon.The lush green golf course comes into view while the resplendent Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa emerges in front of you.
As you enter warm and friendly staff welcome you, instantly making you feel at home. The impressive lobby reception area is only the beginning of the experience. Open on all sides the view from this upper elevation of the pool and the blue ocean beyond is breathtaking. ‘In Full Bloom’, the special elephant sculpture –‘Moon Moon’ that travels to the new properties of Shangri-La takes centre stage in this expansive lobby area.
With 300 rooms, a golf course, recreational areas including three swimming pools and a selection of restaurants, the concept of the resort is to provide a relaxing yet rejuvenating holiday destination within the premises so that the guests can enjoy a novel experience.
The architectural design and interior at Shangri-La are a fusion between Sri Lankan and Asian style thereby being true to its locations as well as its brand identity. As in with all Shangri-La properties emphasis has been given to ensure that the local atmosphere is preserved so that there is always a blend between modernity while respecting tradition.
The resort offers guests four dining options with 2 full-fledged restaurants, an open pub and lobby lounge. Bojunhala the all day dining restaurant serves an international buffet. The spacious dining area opens out to the garden and has an al fresco setting. The spread of mouthwatering cuisine is extensive and you will surely have a time trying to decide what to select. Sera, the Asian fusion dining restaurant is open only for dinner and serves the flavours of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China. While the meals are prepared using fresh home-grown produce, the selection of beverages are perfectly selected to complement the cuisine. This outdoor restaurant with green overhanging foliage and elegant yet rustic furnishing provides a very Asian experience.
Gimanhala is the lobby lounge and serves refreshing fresh fruit juices, cocktails and quick snacks. This space is open on all four sides and has views of the hotel as well as the gardens, pools and the beautiful ocean. The architectural design and interior are distinctively Sri Lankan with a Sihala Ulu (traditional clay roof tiles) roof, Sekku Gal, easy chairs with bunches of unhusked green coconuts and king coconuts adding decorative elements. This is the ideal place to rejuvenate and relax. Ulpatha is the clubhouse, pub and bar. This laid-back venue has a sporty vibe and is inspired by Sri Lanka’s Colonial heritage. Facing the green golf-course and lagoon, for a quick lunch or an evening snack after a game of golf, Ulpatha is the place to be.
Dine by Design is a specially curated dining experience that is for a couple or a small group of a maximum of 12. This is generally arranged in a unique location such as over the lagoon pool, the sunset cabana and Ulpatha, to name a few. The Chef’s Table or Garden is another feature that is a wonderful creation of unique ingredients and spices that culminate into a culinary journey.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is composed of two sections where one is more for family and children; and the other for adults who wish to indulge in a tranquil undisturbed holiday. The resort has three pools; The Sunset is a quiet pool on a slight elevation facing the ocean. It is quite secluded and ideal for some peaceful alone time. The Lagoon pool is for the entire family and is set amidst a red flow of umbrellas and sunbathing chairs. The Fun pool is for children only and has water slides and fountains thereby making it a happy place for kids to splash around.
The expansive 18-hole golf course surrounds the resort, as such a golf buggy and a caddy is compulsory. Water features both natural and man-made are part of the golf course. Neat sandy roads wind through the greenery that are shaded by coastal foliage. An abandoned sapphire mine makes up part of the well-maintained golf course. This is a paradise for golfers. Other exciting and thrilling out of doors recreational activities include mountain bike rides, aqua yoga, trapeze, trampoline, river safaris and excursions.
One of the most unique aspect of Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is the Cool Zone dedicated to children. With a colourful and fun play area, easy arts and craft facilities, computer station, ball pit as well as a movie area. The specially trained staff here ensure that the children are taken care of while their parents can enjoy a relaxing holiday. The children can be engaged with fun yet educational activities at the play area that will stimulate their growing minds. Pool activities, aqua gym, face painting, kite making, badminton, cooking with chef are some of the many activities that are organised for the young guests. There is a separate game zone for children above 12 years of age where they can play air hockey, billiards and video games. There is so much for children to enjoy at Shangri-La.
The Village is a creative hive that nurtures Sri Lankan traditional arts and crafts. Talented artisans from around the country are offered a space to demonstrate their craft as well as skills to provide guests the opportunity to purchase a souvenir. It consists of thatched roof huts where each artisan is accommodated free of charge. There is also a central amphitheatre for performances and special occasions. Paddy fields and lotus ponds give a feel of rural Sri Lanka. Certain paintings and ornamental elements that furnish the rooms have been created by the artists of The Village.
A tranquil oasis, Chi Ayurveda Spa is a first for Shangri-La as it brings together its signature spa brand Chi with Sri Lankan traditional Ayurveda. The 12 treatment rooms include both indoor and outdoor facilities. The open design of the Chi Ayurveda Spa maintains the Sri Lankan Asian fusion where each treatment room opens out to nature. The outdoor spa rooms, which are individual chalets can be opened on two sides, while ensuring privacy and harmony with nature. There are a multitude of Chinese and Ayurveda treatments to select from the spa and the therapies are performed using natural spa products. All guests will be treated to a complimentary Jacuzzi and Sauna. The interior of the spaces in the spa all reflect the concept of ‘back to nature but with modern facilities’.
The banquets at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa has hosted a number of large weddings including grand week-long Indian weddings. The large beautiful ballroom can accommodate 1,400 guests in theatre style and 900 for a sit-down dinner. A beachside wedding in this tropical Island can be made a reality at this unique resort. Conference facilities and corporate functions can also be organised with five meeting rooms that can also be converged into larger halls.
The rooms are spread across the property and each wing is named after a Sri Lankan animal, namely: Muwa (deer), Kesbewa (turtle), Diviya (leopard), Rajaliya (Eagle) and Aliya (elephant). The room categories include Deluxe, which are on the ground floor and Premier, with either golf course or ocean views on level 2, 3 and 4. These double rooms are cosy spacious and decorated with pastel shades that reflect the changing hues of the ocean. Suites are also of either golf course or ocean views; these consist of a double room with a sitting and dining area. The colour theme is similar to that of the rooms. The resort also offers two speciality suites – Araliya and Manel and a majestic Presidential Suite. As a five star resort the accommodation provided at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa reflects its international name and provides the ultimate luxurious stay.
Walking around the extensive property along the many corridors the southern breeze cools you while you enjoy the many elements of this beautiful resort. Art and sculptures of elephants can be seen all around as the conservation of elephants is a project close to the hearts of the owners of the Shangri-La Group. Therefore, the Shangri-La Eco Centre is specially dedicated to this endeavour.
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa takes on a different look at dusk as if changing for a glamorous evening. Fire torches and lanterns light up throughout the resort taking you into a magical world.
A holiday at this resort will truly be a truly memorable and tropical experience.
(+94 47) 788 8888