SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 11 January 2004  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Silumina  on-line Edition

Government - Gazette

Daily News

Budusarana On-line Edition

'Star Light' : 

Illuminates Unawatuna


When Susil Asoka was a youth of 17, he met two German tourists, Peter Kremer and Manfred Koha in Koggala, soon after sitting for his GCE (O/L) examination in 1980 but he never dreamt that he would some day be the proud owner of a star class tourist hotel, with the help of his new acquaintances.

Front view and rooms overlooking the swimming pool 

Peter and Manfred who for the first time had visited Sri Lanka in 1980, had the occasion to tour Madol Duwa and Kurulu Duwa before being stranded in Koggala. Susil Asoka who casually met the two Germans, not only volunteered to go with them to Madol Duwa and Kurulu Duwa but also guided them to Unawatuna, famous as one of the best beaches in the world. Susil's hospitality towards the two Germans initiated an intimate friendship among the three of them.

When Peter and Manfred left Sri Lanka, they asked me to learn the German language so that they would take me to that country Susil said. Due to financial difficulties, I could not even find the money to follow a course in the German language but with the help of some of my friends, I mastered the German language to a great extent.

In 1982 Peter and Manfred came to Sri Lanka again and took me for a holiday to Germany. Susil soon became almost a family member of Peter and Manfred. He stayed with them in Germany. After returning from Germany, I went to France through a French family and worked at the Taverne Du Vigneron restaurant as a helper where Susil accustomed himself with French cuisine.Susil returned to Sri Lanka and entered the hospitality industry as a tour operator.

After marriage Susil purchased a land in Talpe, Unawatuna close to his ancestral home with the idea of building his own hotel. His problem to find the finances to build a hotel was the question that kept ringing his ears. When he informed Peter and Manfred of his intention to build a hotel, they readily assisted him in many ways as a reciprocation of his help and hospitality rendered to them during their visits to Sri Lanka.

Soon Susil became a proud owner of Star Light Hotel, a 14-room star class hotel in Talpe, Unawatuna. It was a dream come true for Susil when the doors of Star Light Hotel opened on May 25,2000.

Located 125 km South of Colombo on the Colombo/Matara highway, at Talpe, Star Light Hotel has 14 luxury guest rooms inclusive of a deluxe suite. All rooms are equipped with all modern facilities. The hotel has a banquet hall which could accommodate over 250 guests, two restaurants serving Western, Eastern, Chinese and spicy Sri Lankan cuisine.

The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool, with a kiddies pool. It organises safaris to tourists and a 5-day tour to Yala Wild Life Sanctuary, Ella-Wellawaya, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Sigiriya, Dambulla and other places of tourists interest in the Cultural Triangle. It also offers a shuttle service each morning to tourists to visit Unawatuna beach, free of charge. It also offers a free nature tour around Koggala Oya and a free visit to a tea plantation, for guests who stay more than three days at the hotel.

Future plans of the hotel are to construct a pool bar, Billiards room and an Ayurvedic Centre.

Anjalo - youngest MD in Lanka's Travel Trade

Anjalo Mendis was only 20 when he took over his family business - Bernard Travels and Tours after his father left for Germany in 1997. Anjalo was determined to continue the business which was started by his grandfather Joseph Mendis five decades ago

A product of Thurstan College, Anjalo took up the challenge from his father in 1997, and his first target was to expand the venture. He reaped the harvest successfully within five years.

His home-office was shifted to the city's commercial hub at Chatham Street in Colombo Fort, and 12 professionals in the travel trade were recruited.

The story of Bernard Travels and Tours goes back to the late 1940s when the business was started by Anjelo's grand father, Joseph Mendis with one limousine, a property anyone could be proud of at that time. Person to person publicity was the belief of his father, Bernard, such policy is still the major seller of Bernard Tours as it did for the last five decades. 'Commitment, team spirit and closeness to the reality of the trade were the main factors behind my success' Anjulo said. 'I do not run after dollars but ready to spend a few extra dollars to make my clients happy.

Many tourists have become our family friends and some are visiting the country every year and we know that they expect a good holiday here as they come here after hard work throughout the year. So we do our best to keep them happy till their return, Anjulo said.

He was critical of the rat race among tour operators who use the price factor to undercut one another and grab business. 'Going cheap means the quality of the product would definitely go down and such business would never benefit the industry, nor the individual, Anjulo said.

Bernard Travel and Tours has joined hands with big operators in Malaysia, India, Singapore, France, Germany and handles inbound and outbound tours, airline ticketing, money exchange, safaris and cultural tours. Anjulo's latest agreement is with a leading Japanese Tour operator.

Today Anjulo could be Sri Lanka's youngest Managing Director of a successful company in the travel trade. He said that many big tour operators have built their own hotels which enabled them to maintain low price tariff. His next target is also a luxury hotel. Anjulo is really proud of his achievements, he told the Sunday Observer.


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