Before the sun sets over southern Sri Lanka, its golden light falls on a picture-perfect sandy beach, fringed by a grove of coconut trees and an artful collection of just 30 luxury villas.
As it sinks towards a ridge of trees, the last place you’ll spot it is the airy Amanwella cocktail bar, high on a promontory overlooking the rest of the resort – and the perfect place to see the evening.
What to do
Your first stop will likely be the beach (below), a gorgeous stretch of sand with shady palm trees and lounge chairs, plus cold drinks on demand.
The sea itself can be rough – there are good waves here – but it’s safe for swimming. Early in the morning is better if you prefer calm waters, in the afternoon if you want to take a body board and play in the breakers. The swimming pool, almost 50 m long, is warm and welcoming at any time of the day.
Wellness is seamlessly integrated at Weligama, not only in the relaxed and rejuvenating ambience that permeates the resort, but also in the treatments it offers. Instead of being confined to a separate spa, they are offered in your own private suite – or on the beach. Yoga lessons, private or in a group, can also be arranged, as can meditation with a monk.
For an unusual sunset cruise, the Amanwella team can transport you to the hotel’s “floating lounge” on the nearby lagoon of Mawella. Your crew will provide champagne and commentary, while nature provides a spectacle of pelicans, kingfishers and, of course, a spectacular sunset.
The hotel is a short distance from the verdant Sinharaja Forest Reserve, as well as the historic town of Galle, whose narrow streets and attractive cafes are well worth a day trip.
Yala National Park (below), home to leopards, bears and elephants, is a bit more remote, but a two-night stay there (at Chena Huts or Wild Coast Tented Lodge), with early morning game drives, combines well with a relaxing stay at Amanwella.
what to eat
Everyone should order Amanwella’s Sri Lankan feast at least once, and potentially much more often. An opulent selection of richly spiced curries, fiery sambals and soothing coconut rice, it makes a great introduction to the island’s invigorating cuisine.
There’s also an international menu, with strong Mediterranean and Asian influences, in which fresh seafood plays a starring role.
Free afternoon tea is served in the bar, a beautiful glass-walled building, classically furnished and well-stocked with international wines and spirits. Linger over tea and you won’t have to wait long until aperitif time…
For a change of scenery, the Anantara Peace Haven resort in the neighboring bay offers a restaurant offer. Aga Surf View, on the other side of the hotel, has great casual dining, as well as fantastic coffees and cakes.
when should we go
Southern Sri Lanka is hot and humid all year round, with temperatures reaching a degree or two of 30°C on most days. The main monsoon season runs from October to December, while April and May are also slightly wetter than the months on either side. January to March and June to September are generally dry and sunny, although tropical showers are always possible.
Rooms available for two people sharing around £550 per night on the Amanwella website. SriLankan Airlines flies non-stop from London to Colombo from around £840 return. Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad fly via the Middle East from several UK cities, from around £550.