Sri Lanka until today has been largely undiscovered and although it has been on our family’s bucket list for a while now, we had overlooked Sri Lanka for other more well-known holiday destinations like Bali and Vietnam. Sri Lanka still remains largely unspoilt and raw as a result of decades of civil unrest and much of the country still captures the essence of their local traditions and ways. The civil unrest has also protected much of the country from large hotel groups and commercial tourism although this is starting to change with well-known hotel groups entering the market.
We are just sorry we hadn’t come sooner because Sri Lanka has impressed our family no end – the change in scenery in just two hours by car whatever direction you set off in is completely different and the setting of each area is absolutely unique and stunning. We learnt that Sri Lanka has different climates, the temperatures changes from the mountains that rest around 17 degrees celsius even in summer months, to the hidden and tranquil lakes, to raw and wild beaches to dry zones containing two of the world’s most outstanding safaris, to the cooler tea plantations usually found at a 500metre altitude. The unique climate with its humidity, cool temperatures and high rainfalls, is one of the reasons Sri Lanka’s tea industry has boomed into a USD1.5billion industry, since James Taylor, brought the first tea shoot from China in 1867. In fact, it has to be one of the most beautiful destinations and untouched countries we have come across, and I am not surprised why so many countries over hundreds of centuries have tried to colonise this country. Everyone who comes falls in love with the richness and beauty of the land.
Travel around the South of Sri Lanka used to be complicated because of the lack of infrastructure and would often take 6 – 7 hours from Colombo Airport, but in recent years, the new highway has reduced this to just a 2 – 3 hour journey. The last President was from the South East of Sri Lanka from the area of Tangelle and he invested much around this area to build a new airport and new roads to boost the economy around his hometown.
As the news about the beauty of Sri Lanka spreads through the travelling community, the Sri Lankan government, at the same time, is also realising the importance of conserving its country’s wildlife and beaches. We hope the government’s efforts will continue otherwise it will be ruined by mass commercial tourism like in the cases of Bali and Phuket, that not long ago resembled Sri Lanka.
We had no idea what to expect from Meda Gedara, a seven-bedroom villa set towards the South East of the island near Tangella and Dickwella. The property is managed by Eden Villas in Sri Lanka, a British-owned management company based in Sri Lanka for almost 20 years. The journey from Colombo’s international airport took around 3 hours along a scenic one lane route. I was a little bit concerned about the 4 children’s ability to sit in the van for that length of time but we brought endless audio story books including David Walliams, ‘The Midnight Gang’ and BBC’s ‘Storybook Collection, which kept the children entertained whilst they absorbed their new surroundings and landscapes.
As we arrived closer to the villa, the van went off-road opposite some serene rice paddy fields, and you head up a small winding road with tight corners before arriving at large white walls with grey trimmings giving a feeling of splendour. Just behind the white walls and large gates, a massive team of 8 staff greeted us warmly with our excitable family at the door with cold towels and coconut water, and we could feel immediately the sea breeze from the other end of the house that sweeps through the front door to cool and refresh our arrival.
The first impressions are imprinted in our memories forever as the property is flooded with light and air, as we walked on Portuguese style tiles that carpet the front hall into the house. The decor is East meets West incorporating teak carved doors and rattan furniture with a minimalist feel at the same time designed by British architects alongside the British-property owners. The front of the house has three living zones including a family sitting room, and a coffee/study area and a dinning room. The front of the house overlooks the pool and sea. There is then the equivalent length front porch stretching the length of the house with an outdoor dining area enough to sit 20 persons and the front porch is where our family spent the majority of our time. The back of the house has a large movie room, a smaller TV/children’s playroom adjacent to the large indoor and outdoor kitchens.
Meda Gedara gives you a feeling a space, something we all lack in our lives these days as many of us have become cooped up in cramped European city apartments. Meda Gedara is just the opposite with its abundance of space both in the house and garden. The sea breeze blows through the house constantly, with no need for air-conditioning and temperatures sit around mid-20 degrees.
Upstairs, each bedroom is named after special areas of Sri Lanka, with three large bedrooms that have a communal verandah and a stunning view of the pool and sea, with two further backrooms for children. The first of these rooms has sweet four-postered single beds pushed together for siblings. Whilst the room next door has triple bunk beds sufficient for 6 – 8 children as the bottom bunks are double beds. Finally, the master bedroom contains a sweet nursery that goes off the back with two colonial styled four postered beds for young children. The unique setting of the upstairs can accommodate 2 – 3 families or 4 – 6 couples as there is a further pool room.
There are essentially two pools that spread across the front of the property overlooking the large gardens and beach. A deep pool with an amazing water slide that kept my children amused for hours, and a larger pool with a shallow entry gradient path perfect for young toddlers getting in and out of the pools plus a bubble jacuzzi area. The pools are kept well by the staff, clean and always with an abundance of fresh towels.
Then, the beautiful beach that lays in front of the property sprawling for miles, and the sand is an infusion of black and red sand only found on this particular area of coastline. All the land on the beaches have now been sold but not many have been developed so there is still the feeling of a raw, wild and dramatic coastline. During peak season in December and January, the waters are crystal clear and blue, whilst during the month of August, the beaches have a sense of adventure with large long waves and sea spray that stretch up the beach.
It is certainly unique in this day and age to find villas with beach front property which can be rented for reasonable prices. In countries like Bali, this is long gone as beach front properties are now 5-star hotels and in Vietnam the government still own much of all the lands. I cannot recommend a trip to Sri Lanka enough, and Meda Gedara should be part of your journey.
Staff & Food
I cannot describe how special the staff at Meda Gedara were. At villas anywhere in the world, staff can make or break the holidays as you spend time having to manage them. However, this was not the case as the villa manager and head chef, Roshan, remained in control and very capable of delegating and looking after his team of 8-staff. The service was similar to a 5-star hotel with little stress. Roshan is also a talented chef who has had international experience and he is able to prepare Western and Sri Lankan dishes with great ease. He makes delicious pastas, with approval from our Italian family, with fresh tomato sauce, pesto sauce and bolognaise sauce for the kids, as well as homemade chicken nuggets, home made crisps and grilled fish for the children. There is a great choice of salads, fishes cooked different ways, and an array of curries to choose from, and he also makes a delicious Sri Lanka breakfast. Also, on one evening, he will prepare Sri Lankan street food in a traditional style that will keep you wanting more.
#Laundry is complimentary so if you are travelling with kids it is a relief. Don’t wash expensive items but just your regular everyday clothes.
#Bathroom amenities are provided enough for a few days so you might want to bring a little extra.
#DVDs for adults and kids – a great collection so don’t worry about bringing too many.
#Pack plenty of sun cream as the sun can be strong even on cloudy days, and changes of swimming costumes as it takes time to dry because of the climate.
#Pick up some duty free wine at the airport on arrival and also order some wine via the vast wine list provided by Eden Villas in Sri Lanka.
Around Meda Gedara
The Eden Villas Management team are sleek in their service and can organise days trip with quality drivers. We visited the famous Yala National Park, the Blowhole, the children also saw a large green turtle giving birth, the children went fishing and you are also able to organise whale watching too. There is so much to do that we were torn between staying at the beautiful villa but also wanting sightsee. You can also book in advance of your stay.
Emirates Airlines: Dubai to Colombo 4 hours
Fly Dubai: Dubai to Colombo 4 hours
Fly Dubai: Dubai to Mattala Airport but a stop in Colombo 6 hours.
To book or to find out more check www.evinsl.com