Anantara Peace (Haven) and Serenity – Sri Lanka
We recently came back from a wonderful stay at the stunning Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle. From the second you walk into the property, with the melodic sound of a traditional Sri Lankan welcome song, the view from the open reception greets you with spectacular force and you know you are in for a special stay. The hotel sits on a rocky outcrop of the south coast so you can imagine just how wonderful are the panoramic views of the grounds, beach and ocean.
We were in Sri Lanka touring the south coast and I had decided to start at the southern tip of the island in Tangalle pronounced Tan-GAH-leh and then head slowly back up the coast to Colombo. If you wish to cut out the drive time you can take a seaplane from Colombo to Tangalle where you will land at what might be the world’s most picturesque airport in Dickwella, just a shack near a dock on Mawella Lagoon, about 15 minutes from Tangalle. The 40-minute plane ride will spare you the 3.5-hour drive and provides a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of Sri Lanka.
Sadly since the deal with China has run into problems Hambantota Airport is temporarily closed for international flights, otherwise Fly Dubai flew directly from Dubai and being only an hour away from Tangalle is another fast way to get to the Sri Lankan south coast.
We were shown to our villa by tuk tuk – a lovely alternative to a golf buggy. On the way to the villas you past the spa and gym, the kids club and once over the little bridge you spot two resident cows whom my kids named Milky and Clover. Around the grounds you will find a couple of hammocks where you can relax and enjoy the many squirrels, peacocks and a massive Sri Lankan turkey which looked very amusing walking by!
The 2 bedroom double story villas don’t have sea views but are more secluded and offer wonderful garden views with a really large private pool. Upon seeing the villa we immediately fell in love, it was so spacious, comfortable and felt like home. Spread across two floors the floor to ceiling windows let in so much natural light and picture perfect views.
The ground floor has a separate kitchen and bathroom and a large open living/dining room with sliding doors opening onto the garden and pool. There is a large bedroom with two queen beds, a separate walk in open wardrobe and large bathroom, which included a bath and an outdoor shower. Upstairs is the large master bedroom with a separate walk wardrobe and a large bathroom. What makes you feel really at home are the little touches such as a selection of books on the bed side tables and in the kids room they even had children’s books. If you’re a keen artist, in the master bedroom they had a desk complete with a large sketch pad and pencils and with the outdoor views, its certainly offers a great artist canvas.
The children loved the beach, there’s a surf school however the water was a bit rough for swimming in the sea, but that didn’t stop them from having fun playing on the rocks screaming as the large waves crashed against the side. In the trees they had a tree swing which provided so much entertainment. The beach is raw, untouched and provided that sense of escapism. I love walking on the beach with the kids, kicking the water, collecting shells, which we always make into an adventure – well that’s my version anyway as my husband encourages the kids to climb the high rocks and jump off totally fearless while I am a nervous anxious wreck!
The large hotel pool is on two levels, offering various degrees of infinity inspired vistas. The shallow end has beds soaking in the water which are great for keeping cool.
I really enjoyed the cliff side restaurant Ll Mare , not only for its floodlight views of the ocean and the sounds of the waves but the food was amazing. It serves Italian cuisine, which I don’t always eat, but with so many gluten free options paired with a nice bottle of red wine and the kids happily enjoying their pasta, it was a perfect dinner.
The other restaurant offers buffet for dinner and breakfast. With a vast variety of Sri Lankan and western dishes plus freshly squeezed juices from the "raw bar" which were delicious every morning - we were always spoilt for choice.
During the day we enjoyed lunch at the poolside bar and I believe during peak season the Verala beachside restaurant is another great option!
If you want to venture out of the hotel and into Tangalle you can discover the charm of rural fishing villages and fields of rice paddies, interspersed with Buddhist temples. Rekawa Beach is not far away and is famous for five species of turtles nesting on the beach, including the very rare hawksbill and leather back turtles.
It’s also a suitable base for combining a beach holiday with a visit to Udawalewe National Park and Yala National Park. We visited Udawalewe Park, two years ago which was amazing as we got to see so many elephants in their natural habitat - you can read our review here:
So if you plan on visiting Tangalle you have to stay at Anantara Peace Haven - luckily for you they are a partner of Unique Family Travels so we can offer amazing rates and packages.
Heres a snap shot of the resort: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1whMl5JqL4
Our last destination on our road trip was Anantara Kalutara which is nearer to the airport and a great place for people to enjoy a few days who have been in the Kandy area and want a hotel not too far from the airport. This property is not as luxurious as its sister property Peace Haven, but its warm, friendly and amazing for kids. In fact from the moment you arrive the hotel is focused on the children as they gift them a very cute handmade elephant rucksack each and wooden jigsaws.
Let me start with the thrilling zipline/abseiling and rock climbing area, which is simply awesome. If my adrenalin junkie kids could have stayed on this all day they would have. They rock climbed and abseiled a wall of 10m and the zip line is 165 meters going over the lagoon. This was extremely well managed with the most gentle and sweet staff who made sure the kids were harnessed safely and encouraged them to have multiple turns.
Next to a fully equipped gym there is also a kids club with an indoor and outdoor area and a teenagers games room. Around the hotel are giant chessboards, which the kids enjoyed, especially my eldest who is really into chess now! There was also an area to learn archery.
On the far side of the resort there’s a cute duck pond and on the edge of the lagoon is the coolest tree house accessible by ladder and a swing over the lagoon which you get to from a little bridge – talk about back to basics fun fun fun!
We had a lovely large 2-bedroom villa with a swimming pool in the middle of the hotel courtyard. It was really comfortable and spacious but it offers no views as it has a wall around the villa providing privacy.
The hotel has two large swimming pools – one by the main restaurant where a lot of the hotel rooms look out onto which also has a dedicated kids pool and the other one is a large lap infinity pool but it’s adults only and has a bar/restaurant attached to it.
Due to the lack of tourism in Sri Lanka since the start of the year, only one restaurant was open which served buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner – for me, I like a little variety so the chef went above and beyond to assist with this and I can’t thank them enough for being ever so caring, thoughtful and considerate to my families needs.
When we checked out of this splendid property I was blown away by the farewell ritual we received which is customary to Sri Lankan life. A young man sang a beautiful prayer with the most angelic voice, which was so moving, while he also tied a thread around everyone’s right wrist in order to wish us safe travels – a simple but powerful gesture that really touched me and my family and truly reinforced the feeling that Sri Lankans are the most soulful people and despite the recent tragedy, tourism in this magical place will come flowing back strongly.
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