Wednesday, March 25, 2009

To The Beach!

Having said our goodbyes to Mark and the staff of Kulu Safaris, we were reunited with Maliq for the drive down to Galle and our time by the beach.

Our itinerary is not the most logical, as we’ll have to go back past Udawalawe to get to our next destination, Hatton, but the safari shuts down now for a fortnight for the Buddhist new year, so it had to be the first item on our itinerary or we would have missed it entirely.

The drive to Galle was uneventful (although Ping would tell you we had numerous close-calls on the road) and I slept through a lot of it.  For all that you are just sitting in a jeep looking at the scenery, safari is hard work between the early starts and all the hanging-on as you travel cross-country!

We arrived at our hotel, the Lighthouse, mid-afternoon and it is quite the beach paradise.  You arrive on the ground floor via a gloomy canopied fortress-like driveway and are then led up a broad wooden circular staircase, decorated with ‘scrap’ iron statues forming a life-size battle frieze around the inner banister, and as you reach the first floor you turn off and are suddenly presented with a clear view out across the ocean through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that line the reception area.  Quite breathtaking!

You are seated out on the terrace beyond the doors while they process your check-in and served drinks.  The hotel is built on a rocky promontory so you are regularly treated to huge surf sprays as the waves crash on the rocks about fifty feet beyond the terrace; close enough to be a feature, but far enough away not to be a saltwater shower!  To the side are a couple of palm-tree-lined beaches and the hotel grounds.

The rooms are lovely; minimal as things go, but very spacious, very comfortable and with all the amenities you really need.  The en suite area is another room unto itself; behind a sliding teak panel you have a small lobby with the bath, basin and an enormous closet and to either side of the bath are shower and toilet rooms.  Our balcony looks over an infinity pool to the palm-fringed beach and the ocean.  For once, the reality really does match the image in the brochure…

We took advantage of the facilities to shave and properly wash away the grime of the safari before taking advantage of Room Service to save us having to walk anywhere for lunch, then we took advantage of the big, comfortable beds for an afternoon nap.  Bliss.

Pre-dinner cocktails on the terrace, listening to the sound of the surf and admiring the horizon lined with the lights of hundreds of fishing boats.  We dined in the main restaurant on the five-course-plus-coffee set menu, which was pleasant enough but reminded me that we are now at a package hotel – a recognition which sadly took the glamour off the place a little after the personalised experience at Kulu.  Nevertheless, it’s all relative and it’s still a fabulous hotel; I would happily stay here for a good long while as a chill-out holiday.

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