|Sunday, 8 September 2002|
The Village - Keells resort that awakened Habarana
by BEVERLEY JANSZ
Twenty five years ago Habarana was not considered a tourist destination until Keells Hotel Management Services saw the potential of this town as a base for many tourist attractions.
The first tourist hotel to be built in Habarana was The Village. It was built in 1976. Since then, Habarana has seen a marvellous awakening, especially as a tourist destination in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle. Tourists now experience the traditional hospitality of Sri Lanka in its natural setting at the The Village. When I visited The Village last week, I was accorded a warm and traditional 'village' type welcome by Director General Manager, The Village, Srilal Mendis and the resort's Resident Manager, Kenneth Jayasinghe.
I found The Village to be the ideal locality for all that is best about Lankan charm, courtesy and cuisine and what could be better than encountering all these in an intimate village atmosphere. There is more to The Village than a cosy ambience.
There's the Habarana lake front with its plethora of endemic flora and fauna. There is a wooded parkland, nature trails and jogging tracks.
While you "live in The Village," there's a world of cultural heritage and relics from an ancient civilisation in the vicinity of Habarana for you to explore at leisure. The resort sprawls over 12 acres of landscaped gardens replete with exotic botanical interest. The resort has 106 terraced cottages with A/C or fan, hot and cold water and magnificent views of the glistening Habarana lake. It has two suites, 'Kingfisher Lodge' and 'Silver Lodge'. It offers tourists relaxation beside the still waters of the ancient irrigation tank, home to rare species of flora and fauna. Over 135 species of birds have been identified within the premises of the resort. The 'Samadhi Veda Asapuwa' offers tourists a varied selection of herbal treatment.
Trees of over 100 species found in the 12-acre land on which the hotel has been built. This is something rare, Resident Manager, The Village, Kenneth Jayasinghe explained. Tourists take the edge off the tropical heat as they frolic in the cool waters of the large swimming pool with an overview of terraced pathways, limpid lake and tropical jungle.
The resort spreads a scrumptious array of traditional Sri Lankan and exotic Eastern food, presented by Executive Chef Wasantha Jayamanna and his kitchen brigade, to satisfy the 'jungle hunger' of tourists. BBQs and outdoor buffets, with a well stocked bar at hand, are also offered to guests.
Recreation and entertainment at The Village includes boating, tennis, badminton, chess in a king-size hut and a host of other indoor games - best of all, the resort offers a thrilling elephant safari in the village of Habarana which has become extremely popular not only among foreign tourists but Sri Lankans alike.
The Village is certainly a base for many tourist attractions, including Minneriya Park, Kaudulla National Park, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Namal Uyana, Aukana, Kalawewa, Somawathai Chaitiya, Dimbulagala, Ritigala and many other in the Cultural Triangle. The shimmering peak of Ritigala is also visible in the hazy tropical near-distance of the resort with its temple atop a mountain 18 km away from the resort.
The Village is a Keells Resort Hotel.
For first time in 40 years : Mini Season - big tourist attraction at Nuwara Eliya
The 'Mini Season' held in Nuwara Eliya last month was a big tourist attraction, Chairman, 'Mini Season' and Tourism Development Committee, Nuwara Eliya D.G. Mahinda Kumara said. Mahinda is also the Chairman of Alpine Hotel, the latest star class hotel to be built in Nuwara Eliya.
The Mini Season was the first to be held in Nuwara Eliya after 40 years. It was organised by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council.
'The main aim of our council is to market Nuwara Eliya as a year-round tourist destination for both foreign tourists and Sri Lankans' Mahinda said. The festival was similar to that we traditionally organise in April annually, he said.
'Let us make Nuwara Eliya the 'Garden city of Lanka' and the biggest tourist destination in Sri Lanka, Mayor of Nuwara Eliya, Chandana Lal Karunaratne said.
The Tourism Development Committee of Nuwara Eliya has decided to organise three tourist seasons in Nuwara Eliya in future - the major season in April, followed by two other 'Mini Seasons' in August and December every year.
This has been decided following the tremendous success of the Mini Season held last month, Mahinda said. Last month's festival included a 'Nature Photography Exhibition' organised by the Nuwara Eliya District branch of the 'Youth Exploration Society' of Sri Lanka, Horse races, organised by the Sri Lanka Turf Club, Fun Shooting, organised by the Nuwara Eliya, Mayor's Cup Football tournament, organised by the Nuwara Eliya Football League, and sponsored by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council, and a musical show presented by Shakthi FM.
Kerala - Sri Lanka tourism
With the staging of the Kerala Travel Mart from October 3-5 at Cochin the Kerala State Government intends opening new vistas in tourism between Sri Lanka and Kerala by jointly promoting the region with the inclusion of Maldives. To explore the many possibilities, a top travel delegation of 22 travel agents headed by the Kerala State Government Minister of Tourism and Fisheries G. T. Thomas held a presentation at the Taj Samudra Hotel recently to pool the resources and jointly promote the region to enhance business, create new possibilities in the tourism industry which in turn will result in international as well as inter-rational linkages.
Mr. Thomas pointed out that Sri Lanka and Kerala have certain common facilities such as the beaches and Ayurveda and these factors should be utilised to the maximum for greater tourist traffic. He also said that Sri Lanka and Kerala should get together with the Maldives in promoting the region, by offering a number of attractions and options in a small geographical area which will bring in travellers regularly.
The Secretary to the Kerala State Minister of Tourism T. Balakrishnan expressed the opinion that the Kerala Travel Mart which will be held in Cochin in October will be a great opportunity for the Sri Lankan Travel industrialists and that Kerala and Sri Lanka could work together to further enhance product development and marketing.
Sri Lanka's Travel Agents Association President Udaya Nanayakkara expressed the fact that over 400,000 Sri Lankans travel to India including Kerala and that Sri Lanka should look for neighbouring countries to promote tourism rather than depend on the long hand markets in Europe.
Sri Lanka makes available visa formalities on arrival for any SAARC citizen who is a visitor and he hoped that the Kerala state government in order to make travelling easier between the two countries bring in free frontier formalities.
Sri Lankan Airlines Head of Commercial G. T. Jayaseelan expressed the view that the Airlines is the fourth largest visitor to India and that he required more capacity to Cochin and Trichy which will further promote tourism.
Kerala, described as God's Own Country will bring together all who matter in the travel and tourism sector - hoteliers, resort owners, tour operators, travel agents, transport operators, Ayurveda centres, house boat operators at the forthcoming Kerala Travel Mart from October 3-5 at Cochin.
Produced by Lake House