The weather is getting on my nerves. And I still have Sri Lanka on my mind, pondering ways to defrost my bones.
For winter sun, the Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle on the South Coast of Sri Lanka definitely lives up to its name.
In November, we at Citizen Femme hosted a panel debate entitled “The Future of Luxury Travel”. The panellists spoke about what luxury means to them- for some it was time, bespoke service, somewhere you can switch off. As my travel experience evolves, luxury to me increasingly means privacy. Living in a city, working in an open plan office, constantly digitally connected…I am too accessible. To truly reset, I don’t want to see anyone I don’t want to, I don’t want to be asked questions, subject to other diners at mealtimes or feel I am on some sort of communal holiday journey. Luxury to me is becoming elusive.
This line of thought got me thinking about renting a villa. Abundant in privacy, masses of space, a cleaner and a chef should you want them, they can be pretty sweet and I’ve enjoyed some great times in villas in Mustique.
I think villas are a great option for folks who are all about the bronze. But I’m not, I need options. Beach time, pool time, easy access to multiple restaurant, gym, spa, yoga, badminton even! I want the facilities of a resort with the privacy of a villa. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a private villa within a larger resort is my nirvana.
Swimwear to pack
The Anantara is one of my favourite hotel chains as they make so much effort to encourage guests to engage with the surrounding environment and culture through local tours and cultural experiences onsite. Their properties definitely don’t feel like another luxury hotel in another unspoilt paradise.
At the Peace Haven, you can choose from different villas to stay in, but my ultimate is the beachfront villa with your very own plunge pool and giant outdoor space. At 64 square metres with a living room, outdoor dining furniture and sunbeams, you won’t need to leave for much. Although the villas are on the beach, they are set back a considerable way and this means your privacy is guaranteed. Room service comes on a golf buggy so your French toast will still be piping hot and green juice ice cold. Be warned, portions are big! And for romantic dinners in, I loved having my very own wine fridge.
Anantara hotels have beautiful rooms, often with dark woods and massive bathrooms. I love the way the dark woods are reassuring and grounding and a great contrast to more popular Balinese styles. Even if you opt for a room in the main hotel, the bathrooms with their glass wall adjoining the bedrooms provide epic wow factor. His and hers sinks, giant bath tubs and sweet smelling local jasmine toiletries make your stay special. There was never a fight about closet space as there was masses of it and the giant beds are just so comfy. Hotel rooms also have very generous balconies so it’s certainly feasible to hide there for a long weekend. It’s a brave statement calling a hotel “Peace Haven” but the Anantara delivers.
Food, glorious food! Well the Anantara takes this seriously, they grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables and even have a rice paddy behind the hotel. No chance of getting bored as the main restaurant, Journeys, has a rotating buffet every night including local, seafood, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare. Two wonderful structures that remind me of the Cornucopia from the Hunger Games house a further restaurant and bar that is closer to the beach villas. Verele, the restaurant serves local Sri Lankan fare (you must try the hoppers). It also has two seatings for a very tasty and theatrical teppanyaki meal. The seatings are at 7pm and 9pm and very limited to do book in advance. The final restaurant is an absolute showstopper on the top of the cliff overlooking the swimming pool. It’s called Il Mare, an Italian restaurant, that makes the pasta fresh every day. I can’t say enough positive things about it. Bellissimma!
If you do start to feel just a little bit too peaceful, book yourself into the hotel’s surf school. Kayaks and tennis lessons are also available but I highly recommend the daily free sunset yoga class because you can never go wrong with yoga in the outdoors! If you want to speed off to the spa for a treatment, you can use one of the bikes that comes with your villa.
Just ten hours flight from London and then a scenic two hour drive from Colombo airport, your sunny all year round Peace Haven awaits. What are you waiting for?