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Colorful wild peacocks and a Buddhist temple — where orange-robed monks often pray — caught our eye as we biked through the quiet lanes of a Sri Lankan village. Soon, we reached a dramatic coastal cliff overlooking an unspoiled bay, where elephants were exported to Egypt some 2,000 years ago. In the distance, we spotted our resort: Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka.
A four-hour drive south from Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo, Shangri-La’s Hambantota sprawls across a former coconut plantation by the thundering Indian Ocean. It’s all about de-stressing at this secluded destination beach resort. But if clients prefer to be active, there are enough activities on offer — such as the aforementioned complimentary guided bicycle ride through the surrounding countryside — to entertain clients when they feel like rousing from their beach chairs.
Opened in 2016, the luxury resort is the largest in Sri Lanka and spans some 146 acres. It has 300 rooms, including 21 suites, clustered in three low-rise buildings. Ground-floor accommodations offer terraces that open directly onto manicured lawns, while upper-floor rooms have balconies with sea or golf course views. All guestrooms are 516 square feet in size and, feature polished wooden floors and hand-woven rugs, with teal wall panels that provide a pop of color. Spacious marble bathrooms are fitted with large tubs and glass-enclosed rain showers. (Suites range from 1,033 to 2,580 square feet and have separate living and dining rooms.)
Families, who are warmly welcomed at the resort, are booked into a building near a huge free-form pool and outdoor waterpark with slides. There’s also a 23-foot-high trapeze, a trampoline and the Cool Zone Kids Club (the island’s most extensive kids’ club) to keep young ones happy.
But couples and adults certainly aren’t neglected. They gravitate to the quiet, adults-only pool, where loungers are set up under swaying palms on the lawn and pool butlers deliver gin and tonics. Those who like to stretch their legs can also can walk along the beach, which is more than 1 mile long. Dotted with hues of burgundy and gold, the beach is beautiful and unusual — but advise clients that the waves are too strong for swimming.
Chi Ayurveda Spa is chill, too, with 12 treatment rooms and hanging loveseats in a breezy reception area that overlooks a lily-filled lagoon. Therapists from Bhutan, Thailand and Sri Lanka skillfully administer aromatherapy massages. But for a truly soothing local treat, try the Ayurvedic “shirodhara” treatment, where warm oil is dripped slowly onto the forehead.
Then, of course, there’s the resort’s 18-hole Rodney Wright-designed golf course. Even if clients don’t play, they won’t regret taking a fun complimentary buggy ride around the green at sunset. Additionally, the resort has its own artisan village, complete with several traditional studio huts housing weavers, sculptors, painters and potters; guests can buy hand-crafted creations from the artists. A couple of evenings per week, the village turns into a stage for dance, music and Angampora (Sri Lanka’s indigenous martial art) performances.
As for dining, Shangri-La’s Hambantota has four restaurants, including Sera for hawker-style stalls offering flavorful Southeast Asian cuisine. On our last night, we opted for the Chef’s Table, where we dined by torchlight at a special table set up just for us by the beach. It was a very romantic way to end our stay.
The DetailsShangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spawww.shangri-la.com