Feb 28 2019.views 458
Anantara Kalutara gently reveals itself as I pull up to the property, obscuring what is, in actuality, an expansive space. The distinctly simple and unfussy welcome area is soon a distant memory as friendly faces come over, convey greetings, inquire about my journey and take my bag. As I head inside, I am welcomed by dancers and led to a strikingly beautiful lobby, offered a chilled thambili served in a coconut husk and cold towels. The subsequent seated check-in is utterly convenient.
Inspired by celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa, Anantara Kalutara is a perfect embodiment of his signature elan - tropical modernism - an amalgamation of the island’s distinctive features. A dash of the tropics, a touch of colonial and local design, and a hint of culture converge to make Anantara Kalutara a tasteful and sophisticated space that is, without a doubt, awe-inspiring. The resort comprises 141 rooms, 2 pools, a spa, gym, yoga pavilion, Geoffrey Bawa Library, and a kids’ and teens’ club. The rooms at the resort are tailored to suit a multitude of requirements and budgets, including distinct room types as well as suites and villas with plunge pools.
Geoffrey Bawa's unmistakable design philosophy extends to the rooms; large and airy, the space is luxurious and uncluttered yet convenient. A tranquil haven. I stayed at the Deluxe Poolside Room, which, as the room type implies, offers direct access to the pool. The room’s neutral hues against the Sri Lankan teak added classic elegance to the space, while vibrancy was infused through the use of colorful cushions on the bed and the sofa. I loved that the room had a walk-in closet separated by sliding doors, outfitted with the necessary amenities such as the luggage rack, safe, insect repellant, iron, bathrobes and cosy slippers. The thoughtful design makes for an unobtrusive experience, ensuring you don’t return to an unkempt room with clothes and luggage strewn unceremoniously. Instead now, the mess is confined to the walk-in closet. The well thought out amenities were to be found throughout the room, including Nespresso machines, gourmet teas, wine humidor and multimedia entertainment. The outdoor terrace was incredibly roomy and opened out to the pool area, and further along, the lagoon. Interestingly, despite the room’s proximity to the pool and its many inhabitants, I enjoyed relative peace and quiet throughout my stay.
The bathroom too was quite a sight to behold. Immaculately designed, it featured his and hers sinks, standalone tub and rain shower, and a separate cubicle for the toilet. Like the room, the bathroom was well laid out and spacious, and featured the required amenities.
At Anantara Kalutara, dining is quite an exquisite affair. Featuring 5 dining facilities - Olu (all-day international dining), Spice Traders (Asian), Acquolina (Italian), Upper Deck Lounge & Sports Bar (Afternoon tea and drinks) and Dining by Design (private dining; on request) - you will be spoilt for choice. I opted for the breakfast buffet at Olu which was truly a sumptuous feast. The lavish spread meant there was something for everyone, but most importantly, in spite of the comprehensive offering (which often signifies substandard fare), the food was excellent.
For lunch, I headed over to Acquolina. The fine dining restaurant was situated quite a distance from my room, and the walk to the restaurant makes you appreciate how expansive the resort actually is. Acquolina is nestled between the resort’s two ocean wings and faces the property's second, more private pool reserved for adults only, away from the hustle and bustle. The open concept space that houses Aquolina emanates a casual, laid back vibe, and with the auditory backdrop of the waves crashing against rocks, makes for a serene and relaxing dining experience. The menu featured Antipasti, Secondi, Pastas, Pizzas and Dolci, and within minutes of being shown to a table, I was presented with freshly baked bread with Olive oil and balsamic. The Focaccia Mascarpone, Panini Piccanti di Pollo, and Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia I had for lunch were absolutely sublime in both taste and presentation.
From the very moment I arrived at Anantara Kalutara and until I left - with a beautiful send off including a prayer for my safe journey back - the hospitality extended was exceptional. The staff all exuded warmth and were genuinely happy to engage in conversation and offer helpful suggestions. Even as I explored the property early in the morning, everyone, including the ground staff and maintenance staff greeted me with an enthusiastic “Good morning!”, and that level of authentic buoyancy was wonderful to see. Most importantly, the staff were all friendly without being overbearing, something I’ve found well-meaning folks make the mistake of doing.
The experience at Anantara Kalutara is whatever you want it to be - whether you are here on a romantic getaway, a wellness retreat, or with young kids, the staff will make sure you have a perfect time. The hotel also organises a host of in house events, water sports and even excursions to nearby attractions. The quintessential hospitality and attention to detail at Anantara Kalutara ensures a seamless experience that will have you planning your return the minute you leave the premise.
Pics Kushan Pathiraja