My first thought when I chose Haritha Villas and Spa to spend a weekend at was to experience sun, sea, sand and calm. However, while I was driven through paddy fields of Sri Lanka’s untouched natural landscapes, I was amazed at what I saw and was wondering where my final destination would be. Till suddenly, we approached these majestic gates which swung open spinning a breathtaking welcome as we drove in. There was the GM – Maxime Rachel, flanked by the Sales Director Fazal Zawahir and my Villa Master – Wasantha all of whom were hidden behind masks, but I could still feel their welcoming smiles and warmth! I knew then, I was in for a memorable experience!
Haritha Villas and Spa is a privately owned boutique hotel set in lush surroundings. For those who love the sea, the management has made arrangements with their compliments to take their guests to the Riff hotel – just three minutes away to the stunning beach of Narigama.
I was guided to my villa which boasted a stunning view of tall trees, paddy fields and many varieties of lush foliage springing up wherever I looked. We sat on the sofas, chatting over a cup of freshly brewed Sri Lankan tea, after which, the Villa Master or personal butler Wasantha assigned to me walked me through the amenities provided. Each villa features an in-room check-in and SPA services, a personal butler, a private garden and dining area, a plunge pool and your own terrace with sofas. Room amenities include a minibar with a wine fridge, Illy espresso machine and tea-making facilities, a Bose Bluetooth sound speaker, IPad and Ophir toiletries. All the villas offer stunning views of the surrounding jungles and paddy fields.
I was told the owner of this luxury resort is Mr. Kostadin Tolev from Bulgaria who spent almost four years creating the beautiful spaces the resort boasts. While, the father of this truly unique and extraordinary architecture is Gary Fell- a world famous and multi-award winning architect from Bali (http://gfabarchitects.com/)
It was evident that luxury and privacy are at the heart of the hotel’s design. Seven intimate one-bedroom contemporary villas, with rooftops covered in greenery, each with its own plunge pool are beautifully combined with two colonial mansions comprising two en-suite bedrooms and a common large swimming pool.
I opted to laze around under thick sun shades watching the sun go down instead of taking a dip in my own plunge pool. Listening to the sounds of the birds, I was quick to recognize many and happier still to see wild peacocks loitering along pathways like it was their own!
The six acre property has individual villas dotted around the terrain with two mansions where a large family could stay. Though every Villa has its own plunge pool, the mansions have their private lap pool, large dining spaces and more. Luxury beamed from all corners of each en-suite room, furnished with tailor-made high quality curtains, comfortable bed linen with herbal and organic toiletries placed in the bathrooms.
Executive Chef Gunasiri fondly known as Guna treated me to a world class dining experience despite me being vegetarian! He offered unique unscripted menus at the restaurant called The View interconnected to a lounge which could be converted to a meeting space as well. Adjacent to it, is a 20-meter long infinity swimming pool and a Pavilion named Sal-Sala. Chatting to him while he dished out an interesting rice and curry meal for lunch, and later during dinner which was a four course meal, he proudly told me about their “Farm to Table” philosophy – an ethos close to their heart.
As I walked around the property I noticed that in the rooftop of each villa, doing well were rich crops of lemongrass and leafy vegetables.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed Villa Master Wasantha’s assistance throughout my stay. He was a star! His simplicity and humbleness made him an outstanding team player and an absolute asset to the hotel. By dusk, having discreetly done a turndown service in the room, he multi-tasks taking on added responsibilities. He curates all the mocktails and cocktails for the guests at the bar with ingredients freshly picked from the herb garden, as he also is a qualified molecular mixologist which he mastered when he worked overseas!
After a simple but hearty late breakfast, and another stroll around the property, I headed home bidding farewell to the team who by then seemed like family to me!
In my opinion, Haritha Villas and Spa is the absolute and ultimate haven for a writer, or for someone like me to totally unwind and rejuvenate. All I can wish for them is for more guests to arrive in the near future to enjoy what they have on offer!
Haritha Villas and Spa is a fairly new and well-established property on the market in the area and considered as one of the most luxurious properties in the region. The endorsements and excellent reviews on Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Expedia says it all.
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.
The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.
Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.
SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.
“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.
“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.
“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.
“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.
The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.
The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’
Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said.
It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and HNB.
Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.
Further, Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.
Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions.
During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.
Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.