|Posted March 07, 2014|
|Posted March 07, 2014|
Arriving on a speedboat in 15 mins from Male, I was ushered to the Main Bar and greeted by my butler Reji whom knew everything that i need at his finger tips and reachable just a dial away at any time of the day without any intrusion. There, you'll be chilled with a welcome drink Ice-lemon tea before jumping on a buggy to your villa or a farewell cocktail to etch the memories.
My butler Mr Reji speaks fluent English and always takes the initiative to arrange my transfers, meals and activities. He is the only man to approach for assistance and also rubs shoulders frequently on this small paradise. I was also well-received by Mr Hussain, the Front Office Manager upon my arrival.
The exceptional beauty of all-villas only resort highlights a stay for the exclusive. A truly stunning resort that has only 50 villas (SUNSET Over-WATER VILLA, SUNRISE Over-WATER VILLA, JAPANESE Over-WATER VILLA and HONEYMOON Over-WATER VILLA) all over the tides that leads no border to the waters with an easily accessible stairs from the villa. Contrasting the normal boring rooms, i felt like on a mission investigating every inch of the villa that got me overwhelmed with countless exclamation.
Stepping on the dimly-lit streak of light lasering across the wooden-made boardwalk, I walked cautiously with worries that i may slip and fall into the waters. It was a really romantic only-you feeling strolling down the villas and having the waves sound magnifying through your ears.
A private plunge pool that you own for a night, pop a champagne in-house and dip in the 0.9 metres deep inviting waters for sunset dusking the island. Compliment it with the light cashew and titbits specially prepared for the nature glory while you're allured with the best rewarding sunset views.
An immaculate sunset villa with casual and rustic vibe lux the feeling of every single step to explore the amenities. A king-sized bed that allows you to throw yourself on it and go ahh... with the sigh of relief consoling an arrival of final relaxation is worth every dime adding its heavenly feel. A pillow menu is also available to ensure that your sleep is all cosy and fab. I almost thought i'm living underwater with my balcony doors tightly closed and all lights shut off except the surrounding ceiling-enclosed lights that glimmered in the dark.
The timber decking infuses an exotic resort-feel throughout the over-water villa, inducing a charming relaxed vacation that has been long-awaited. There're two air-coolers in the villa to chill in its over-sized sunset villa, a 42" television packed with channels to tune in and a really strong WIFI to connect.
The sensational bed defines its castaway beauty with an impressive sea-view and no lack of modern comforts you won't really want to sacrifice and lack. Understated luxury with genuine no-pretentious hospitality makes guests feel like home hosted with 24 hours butler service and privacy all secured.
The continuous luxury wasn't a disappointment when i found myself in the walk-through backyard of my bedroom, the bathroom. The bathroom is enlarged with no mini corner like the usuals, and is a first-rated paradise of relaxing your soul. To be really truthful, there's no other hotels that i've stayed in that had such enjoyable bathroom which almost felt like a living space. 2 basins with all the inclusive amenities, a open-able window for the bedroom view, a see-through glass bottom to the close nature-touch and a standing shower are some wind-down inclusions in the Sunset Villa at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives.
Sure a jacuzzi is on everyone's dream list to be in its own bathroom. Recover, rejuvenate or revitalise from the tense physical activities all soaked in the bubbly-foamed spurting jacuzzi with your intimate one. The absolute pampering moments are no denial for this impressive water-foam massage for your body and back, all laid back in an attention-stealing jacuzzi.
With a water-fall like that pours out cold water and the tap with hot-flowing water, the jacuzzi quickly immerses with a well-prepared bathe. Be treated like royalty under the stars and contain your excitement splashing waters and foam like a kid because... there's a mounted television on the wall right in front of your sight that you don't miss any action on your favourite channels during your bathe. Amazing isn't it? It'll be silly if you don't try this awesomely-pampered indulgence during a stay at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives. No denial that i had this bathe 3 times a day. You don't feel bored doing nothing, soaking in the warm pumped waters for hydrotherapy and stress reliving...
The invigorating rain-shower pats a quick massage on shoulders after a jacuzzi-bathe for a quick drench before you slip into the fluffy bath-robe provided. The water pressure is comfortable and good for relaxing rinse.
Delivering a dream in Maldives further, have in-villa dining next to the sea on the spacious outdoor deck with a range of American Breakfast to select from. I had my sunny side-up, cereals, lots of freshly-toasted bakery products and freshly-squeezed juices right in the comfort of morning breeze and that memory is never forgotten. Too precious to be true.
For you honey-moon couples, the Honeymoon villa will be perfect for quick ocean-swim. The Honeymoon Villa is secluded from the other villas with their own private board-walkway to the 4 only honeymoon over-water villas at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives. Fun.. doesn't stop in your villa.
A turquoise crystal clear emerald lagoon awaits right at the doorstep of your over-water villa. Snorkel all the way from your villa to the aquamarine lagoons filled with parrot fish, stingrays, school of fishes and more.
Opps.. A school of dull-grey fishes just swam past us. Here.. and there.. and Here.. i got my SONY TF1 WATERPROOF camera snapping all over and it wasn't easy task. Try harder next time! Coral sightseeing is also possible near the diving centre but I feel safer to snorkel near the villa, so i didn't do it there.
The coconut spa at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives is a true heaven must-visit for its massage to relax your senses after these lethargic activities. Marie, a masseur from Bali released her massage strokes with a relaxing aromatherapy spa massage for my shoulder and back that went easy on my sore muscles. A small gym is also available right upstairs for the vigorous sweat-out.
I was hosted all-inclusive set-course meals during my stay at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives. There're 2 choiced restaurants, Farivalhu Restaurant where most diners will visit and KITHAJIMA RESTAURANT to satisfy the Japanese cravings. The specialty about Farivalhu Restaurant is that it has a open-concept transparent kitchen where diners can witness their meals whipped up and served to them.. that process is not neglected to feed better appetite. Entwined with the Indian Ocean sight, begin your chill'out lazing activity at the Main Bar or Beach Bar. There is also a library and museum at the hotel for some peaceful quiet moments you require.
The Orange Cheese Cake with a thick orangey-jelly layer was the dessert for the lunch course at Farivalhu Restaurant and instant-melting cheese felt like cloud nine upon touching onto my sensitive taste buds. I shut off my eyes and savoured that feeling for a good few minutes.. another remarkable plus bonus added!Other Activities not to be missed.
Go on a diving trip with the experts at the diving centre or be enchanted with the ferocious shark feeding at 8pm daily. Our best recommendations: Don't be lazy to wake up for sunrise because it's probably one of the most gorgeous i ever seen at such paradise so get yourself a sunset water villa at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives and soak in the warmth of the sunset all in the plunge pool; then force yourself up to snap photos for sunrise the next day to make your stay worthy.
Good to RAVE
- Speedy access from Male International Airport
- 15 MINS SPEEDBOAT.- FULL-BUTLER SERVICE & professional hospitality
- Strong WIFI in-room villa- Luxury Villas with understated amenities to wow for.
- Lack of WIFI throughout the hotel, and only accessible in-villa
Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Maldives.PARADISAICAL EXISTENCE BEYOND IMAGINATIONVaadhoo, South Male' AtollRepublic of Maldives
Tel : 009606640375
Email : email@example.com (General Inquiries)firstname.lastname@example.org (Reservation Inquiries)
Sri Lanka's tranquil Kandalama Lake as seen from the Heritance Kandalama hotel. Jill Worrall |5th February 2012
EARLY morning on Kandalama Lake in central Sri Lanka and an elephant is sloshing through the shallows, while around him iridescent kingfishers plunge dart-like into the water.
This lake is an artificial creation, the origins of which date back perhaps 1000 years. Rising from the jungles in this relatively dry part of the country are the ruins of cities that were once wonders of the ancient world. Complex and extensive irrigation channels, reservoirs and water gardens were an integral part of these.
It was the British who coined the term "tank" for these lakes, although that hardly does justice to some of them, which can extend over 2000 hectares.
Today the tanks remain vitally important to this region - providing water for agriculture and resources for fishing as well as being havens for wildlife, from elephants to a myriad of bird species.
Children duck and dive in the tanks, women crouch in the shallows washing clothes and people sometimes still bathe and shampoo in the water.
Much of the credit for the creation of these tanks goes to Parakrama Bahu, a 12th century king who declared: "Let not even a drop of rain water go to the sea without benefiting man."
What makes Kandalama special is that on its shores is an extraordinary hotel that has won awards for not only its architectural design but its environmental policies and practices.
Heritance Kandalama was built by Sri Lanka's most illustrious architect, Sir Geoffrey Bawa. His mission at Kandalama was to design a hotel that would settle into its natural environment and in time be almost invisible under a curtain of vegetation. Enormous rocks from the hill behind the hotel are incorporated into the building which stretches a staggering 1.8 kilometres along the lake shore on seven levels.
Entry to the hotel is through a cleft between the smooth, golden flanks of a giant boulder that also serves as the back wall of the main reception desk.
The hotel is set on pillars so that rain and spring water from the hillside can flow unimpeded into the lake and so that animals too can move about freely.
Infinity edge pools were one of Sir Geoffrey's signature features. The main pool at Kandalama seems to flow seamlessly into the tank beyond. I swam in it at dusk as the lake began to glow with sunset colours and langur monkeys bounded along the pool's lip. The hotel prides itself on its environmental awareness and has its own resident ornithologist who takes guests on jungle treks and on early morning lake cruises. Even on the way down to the shore we saw golden sunbirds darting through the trees. Out on the lake it was a flurry of avian activity: herons, egrets and storks sat perched in trees or flapped lazily overhead. They were watched imperiously by several pairs of fish eagles.
Sir Geoffrey practised architecture for nearly 40 years, his career being ended by a stroke in 1998. He died in 2003 and is now regarded as one of the most important Asian architects of the 20th century.
I am sure that if he could see how his beautiful hotel is now, almost totally engulfed in plants that are teeming with birdlife and monkeys, he'd be delighted. Although it's tempting just to stay at the hotel, watch the birds, swim in the pool and indulge in the food (I became happily addicted to having a chef prepare me a hot crispy dosa rolled up with potato masala each morning), Kandalama is also at the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. Within this are several World Heritage Sites (and some which are on Unesco's tentative list for consideration as heritage sites), which include some stunning examples of Buddhist art.
If you are approaching Kandalama from the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, one of the first sites you will encounter is the rock fortress of Yapahuwa. During the 13th century a Sinhalese king, on the run from invading Indian armies, set up his capital here on top of a 90-metre-high granite outcrop.
Each time the kings moved their capital, they took with them Sri Lanka's most treasured relic, the Sacred Tooth of the Buddha and the Bo tree (under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment).
Today, little remains of this short-lived capital apart from a beautiful stone staircase which would have once led to the king's palace and temples.However the staircase is worth a visit on its own. It's guarded by two stone lions and is decorated with carvings of musicians and dancers. It's extremely steep - in fact almost vertical - but the reward for puffing to the top in the tropical heat is the view over the plains below and being able to study the amazingly well preserved carvings on the way up.
It's also good training for the climb to the top of the much better known and more spectacular rock fortress of Sirigiya. More about that next time...
The entry sequence, like the design of the entire hotel, is spectacularly choreographed by Geoffrey Bawa. A visitor to Kandalama in Sri Lanka has a long and adventurous drive through the densely vegetated forest and along the Kandalama tank, up a ramp and then is unexpectedly confronted by the sweeping roof of the entrance and a grotto-like reception with a stunning boulder backdrop.
The Kandalama hotel is located in the cultural triangle close to the Dambulla caves and the marvellous fifth century landscape citadel of Sigiriya; it is also in proximity to the ancient capital Polonnaruwa and the sacred city of Anuradhapura. The hotel lies at the marvellous intersection of water, rock outcroppings and jungle.
Built in the early 90s by the Aitken Spence group, the hotel has an interesting history. The conceptualisation reflects Bawa's architectural brilliance. David Robson, author of the monograph on Geoffrey Bawa (Geoffrey Bawa Complete Works), writes that Bawa rejected sites shown in close vicinity to Sigiriya; he contemplated an area between an island and a ridge set deep within the jungles, which had views of the Kandalama tank and Sigiriya, and finally chose a site close to the ridge.
Kandalama was amongst the last few projects of Bawa's prolific architectural career and certainly amongst his best. Architect Milroy Perera and engineer Deepal Wickramasinghe helped in the execution of his design.
Sri Lanka has had a tradition of boulder-and-water gardens that continue to be prevalent in the landscape vocabulary of the region. Some of the best examples of these gardens are visible in Sigiriya and in Kaludiya Pokuna, a garden of exquisite beauty which displays a fascinating boulder and water interplay. The seclusion and meditative beauty of the built is exemplified by caves nested in the jungles as seen in the monasteries of Arankele and Ritigala. Bawa's Kandalama seems inspired by these proximal references.
The hotel is built along the ridge; the building is a concrete frame structure on stilts that negotiates marvellously the ridge and the water. Visitors almost never perceive the massive scale of this 253,000 sq. ft hotel building which blends harmoniously with the terrain.
The boulder outcroppings are dramatically integrated into the hotel, as corridor walls or as backdrops and are integral to the experience of the space while creating a stunning interplay between the built and natural throughout the project.
The boulder corridor that leads from the entry ends in the lounge. The lounge opens out onto the semi-covered dining area, wild gardens amidst the rock outcroppings, and a swimming pool whose edge is suspended dramatically over the Kandalama reservoir, forming a vast expanse of reflective surface, a mirror to the horizon.
Distinctive of Bawa's architecture, Kandalama is a building to view from, rather than to look at, and accordingly the sense of enclosure dilutes in most of the common spaces and the visitor gets drawn into the view. During my visit, the clouds were thick and hung low over the surrounding hillocks, resembling a dense mysterious mist. On a clear day the Sigiriya rock face is visible from across the Kandalama tank.
The transition spaces such as corridors and staircases too are un-delineated from the magic of the landscape. Artist designer Laki Senanayake's sculptural owl soars over the stairwell, augmenting the effect of being in the landscape when within the building.
At dusk, the hotel transforms into a glowing beacon filled with music. Bawa architecture was always rooted in sustainability even before ‘green design' became fashionable. Kandalama's architecture celebrates this ideal. The hotel is a model of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
It is the first hotel in the world to be LEED Certified (LEED Version 1) by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000 (rated bronze). It has won the Green Globe Commendation Award over a number of years.
Water is managed with great sensitivity in the project. Deep wells on site provide potable water. The flat roofs that are an appropriate response to the dry zone are intensive green roofs; vertical gardens that form a façade over the buildings have resulted in increased biodiversity due to the valuable habitat provided.
They also help in stormwater management, and reduce the heat island effect, leading to a cooler microclimate. Biologically-treated wastewater is used for irrigation. The microclimate is also manipulated by the integration of the rocky ridge into the built, which aids in passive cooling.
Solar heating has been adopted extensively and the transition spaces through the hotel are open to view and thus use natural light during the daytime, minimising energy consumption. Waste generated by the hotel is recycled.
Most of the materials that were used in the construction of the hotel were manufactured within 500 miles from the hotel. Hundreds of trees were replanted during the construction process. Laki Senanayake's garden retreat in Dambulla acted as a tree nursery that supplied wood during the hotel's construction.
Guests are encouraged to adopt green modes of transport such as bicycles in the vicinity of the hotel and take buses to commute to the city.
Nalin is a young lad from Kiula in the Deep South, a remote village affected by the tsunami of 2004. Having passed his A/Ls at the village school, he was at crossroads as to where he should be heading in life.
Ravindran, hailing from Batticaloa, had been in a similar situation. Though I am yet to meet him, I was briefed that his plight was even more wanting, for his family was rebuilding their lives from the long and bloody conflict that ended in 2009.
They both could not reach the aggregate scores needed to seek entry to university. Fate, opportunity and assertive action by some brought them together to meet and greet each other at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality located in Ahungalla near Balapitiya, just a little over a month ago.
Nalin and Ravindran are both trainees at the school, on a one-year training programme offered by the Aitken Spence Hospitality Group (ASHG), a leading outfit in hospitality management in Sri Lanka. There are 35 trainees at the school now representing the North, South, East and North Central Provinces. Among them are Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim youth from several districts including Monaragala, Ampara, Trincomalee and Anuradhapura.
Amal Nanayakkara, General Manager – Training of ASHG, charged with the implementation of this unique experiment, said “trainees live together in the same dormitory, share meals with each other, play together and undergo training on a common syllabus”.
According to the Principal of the School, Deepal Gamage, “Trainees will learn basic English during the first three weeks and then move on to additional instructive sessions on the different skill areas. Their curriculum includes three months of classroom type instruction, nine months of on-the-job training and the assurance of consideration for a job, upon completing the training satisfactorily.”
The 12 months of training including board and lodging is entirely free to the trainees, while some from difficult areas are paid a stipend during training, provided for through donor assistance.
I had the opportunity to meet Nalin on his return to the village during the May Day break and inquire from him how he was doing with his training. He said it was a remarkable experience and was thrilled that he was able to meet new friends at the school from all over Sri Lanka.
His face lit-up when he related how a friend from Batticaloa had called him just last morning, upon reaching home himself. He spoke of his new found Tamil and Muslim friends with much enthusiasm. I even observed a sense of achievement and purpose in his relation of his interactions at the school. There are three other village lads, also filled with a natural flair for ‘Aganthuka Satkaraya’ or ‘caring for our guests,’ like Nalin from the village of Kiula, that goes to forming this multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious group of hospitality trainees at Ahungalla. They all shared the same feelings and are happy at the opportunity they got to be engaged in this unique endeavour in tourism training.
To me it was one more of those moments that makes me proud to be associated with this industry of peace, called tourism.
At a time when some interest groups are preoccupied with seeking ways to ‘investigate violations,’ our task as citizens should be to do our most to mend our ways to build unity among races and people of this nation.
To me, constructive engagement to build such unity, bringing dignity and fair play into the folds of our lives presents a real challenge as opposed to spending valuable time and limited resources on pursuits of seeking an eye for an eye or a limb for a limb, for events that took place in a misguided, sad and dark era of the past.
True, many innocent lives were lost for nearly 30 years in a bloody conflict. And even earlier, like in 1958, then in 1983 and at frequent intervals thereafter, for those leading and/or influencing us, sought to ‘divide and rule’ instead of inculcating values that would bring us together.
Indeed, there were anomalies and bad policies that fuelled events that led to conflict. That must all now be thought of as ‘lessons that must be learnt’ to effect honest, genuine reconciliation, based on the principles of equality, justice, dignity and transparency.
Instead of engaging in disparaging cocktail circuit small-talk about the rights and wrongs of this or that action of others, our own industry decision makers will be able to serve the cause of national reconciliation better, if we were to take on more and more experiments, similar to that of the ‘Aitken Spence School of Hospitality’.
It is noteworthy how, at a recent Asia-Pacific meeting of senior tourism industry executives, Andrew Chan, the CEO of TMS Asia Pacific, warned of a “…pressing need to develop the strategies required of the sector…” if it intends to attract and engage the next generation of employees. His contention was that “there’s a misalignment of expectation between Gen Y (referring to emerging youth) and many organisations…” in the hospitality, travel, and tourism industry.
According to Chan, “Gen Y is the most educated generation in (human) history, most coming out with degrees or even master degrees, and these are the people shying away from the entry-level jobs and assignments that are still expected of them by so many organisations.”
Chan found that “while most employers profess they are keen to hire for attitude, in practice they still focus on assessing candidates more for their skills, during the recruitment process.”
The owners and managers of operations in the hospitality and tourism industry are challenged to recruit, develop/train and maintain a committed, competent, well-managed and well-motivated workforce capable of providing first-class, five-star consistent level of service to guests and clients, at a pay-scale that may not be competitive with other industries and with limited growth potential.
According to Chan, “Bad hiring decisions can adversely affect the morale of other employees – in a worst-case scenario, hiring the wrong person can actually result in a company losing good staff members.”
Though a regional perspective, it is equally valid for our situation in Sri Lanka too. If our industry is to attract top quality talent from among the many hundreds of thousand youth now floating in the employment market, we will not only have to provide them unique and challenging opportunities in training but also offer suitable levels of remuneration and attractive career-paths. Most, in the industry still practice the ‘bad days’ formula of maintaining contractual employees, who do not qualify for the usual employee benefits, at the skilled levels.
Cultural commentator Douglas Coupland refers critically to such jobs as McJobs, which he describes as: “A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit and no-future job, in the service sector.” Many entry-level options in the hospitality, travel, and tourism organisations can be compared to such McJobs, where Gen Y youth with better qualifications and higher aspirations will be unwilling to start their careers in these positions.
Yet, like in the case of the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality experiment, if unique challenges, skills development opportunities and rational career-path options can be presented, that will make even the most choosy youth take a re-look at joining the tourism and hospitality industry as willing and loyal long-term contributors and not as mere ‘something to do’ McJob type opportunity seekers.
They will then look at the hospitality industry not as a mere ‘service charge’ or ‘tips’ generating one-arm bandit machine, but as a movement that can bring people together to share and care, through which their own lives, of those around them and the lives of those whom they serve, can be enriched.
(Renton de Alwis is a former Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism serving two terms during 2000-2002 and again from 2007-2008. He served as Head of the Asia Division of the Pacific Asia Travel Association – PATA – based in Singapore from 1990-96 and as CEO of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore from 1997-99. He also served as a Chief Technical Advisor and consultant with the ADB, UNDP, UNWTO, ESCAP, UNICEF and the ILO. Now in retirement, Renton lives away from Colombo in the Deep South of Sri Lanka and is involved in writing and social activism.
He can be contacted at email@example.com.)
Browns Beach to be demolished, brand new 200 room five star hotel to be built at a cost of 3.5 bn rupees
LBR,Monday 18 April 2011
Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence Hotels, the second largest hotel firm in the island will demolish Browns Beach Hotels, one of the island's oldest beach resorts to make way for a new hotel at a cost of 3.5 billion rupees, said a top company official.
“The existing hotel is about 30 years old, so we want to go for a brand new five star structure of 200 rooms,” said Thilak Gunawardana, the assistant vice president, finance at Aitken Spence Hotels, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence Group.
“It will be an up market unique hotel using the nice locality. The design has been finalized.”
The firm which owns and manages a chain of hotels in Sri Lanka, the Maldives Islands, India and Oman upped its stake in Browns Beach Hotels last month with the purchase of 10,000 shares at 21 rupees each.
Prior to the share purchase Spence held a stake of 28.7 percent or 2.75 million shares in Browns Beach, a 140 room listed three star hotel on a 6.5 acre beach front estate in Negombo. The share purchase upped Spence’s stake to 33.2 percent or 14.34 million shares.
Business tycoon Harry Jayawardena controlled Stassen Group holds nearly fifty percent stake in the hotel. Spence together with Stassen now control over 80 percent of Browns Beach.
The hotel raised 2.2 billion rupees in a rights issue last month. The balance 1.3 billion rupees is to be covered with debt.
Gunewardana said a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) was offered to the staff at Browns Beach last month which was accepted by almost all the non executive staff.
“We paid about 37 million to 180 plus people. Skills and requirements will change according to the new property.”
He said the new hotel will be constructed as a fully owned subsidiary of Browns Beach PLC and will be operational by 2013.
“It is too early to decide on branding or a name change. But we will be managing the hotel since we are a hotel management company,” he said.
He said the new hotel is targeting room rates of USD 150 to 200 per room night and an 60 to 70 percent occupancy rate throughout the year.
“We are quite very optimistic about the project being strategically placed close to the airport and beach. We hope to break even by the second year in to operation.”
The 7th annual ACCA Sustainability Reporting awards were held on February 24th in Colombo under the aegis of Chief Guest, Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Mohan Munasinghe while the Guest of Honour for the event was ACCA President, Mr. Mark Gold. Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings Ltd. was adjudged the joint winner in the Medium Scale Category and now joins the ranks of being one of the most transparent companies in the world. This win highlights the importance Aitken Spence Hotels gives to sustainability, transparency and accountability and provides a clear indication that the company possesses extensive knowledge on how economic, social and environmental impacts of an organization should be reported.
The judging criterion is split into three categories and looks at completeness in scope & coverage, credibility and communication. Reports are evaluated by an eminent independent judging panel consisting of experts in the field of sustainability and environmental reporting disclosures.
“We are delighted to have been adjudged the joint winner in the medium scale category. This commendation reflects Aitken Spence Hotels’ track record of commitment to corporate accountability and championing sustainable tourism by producing industry best practices. The tourism industry is experiencing a boom with many new entrants. As a country we need to be focused on positioning Sri Lanka as a sustainable tourism destination, to optimize the abundant benefits tourism can bring to the country’s economy and its people”, said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.
The awards, held in over 30 countries, is based on judging guidelines established by ACCA worldwide, and is open to any type of organization encompassing all business sizes. The ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards are already functional in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the UK and the USA with similar awards, largely based on the ACCA criteria, existing in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Aitken Spence Hotels’ enduring efforts in making tourism a sustainable resource is made tangible by winning accolades such as this. Winning the ACCA award for Sustainable Reporting and achieving remarkable feats such as having all its hotels in Sri Lanka attain the prestigious EarthCheck benchmark status under the globally recognized sustainability management systems programme attests to the company’s commitment of delivering exceptional sustainable experiences to their guests.
Aitken Spence Hotels manages a portfolio of hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman. The company’s expertise in hotel design, building and management is complimented by its dedication and commitment to excellence. Located in some of the key tourist locations, each of the properties cater to a diverse client base.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Ms. Renusha Gomis
Manager, Public Relations and Promotions, Aitken Spence Hotels
T: +94 112 308 112
Hundreds of rural villagers in Kandalama village are surprised that a crop that they hardly gave a second glance is supporting their livelihoods and fighting climate change.
Gliricidia trees do not get much attention unlike the tea, rubber and coconut in the Island of Sri Lanka, only used as boundary fencing, shade plant or creeper support, hardly giving any economic benefits.
Anusha is one of the many that have formed the new community of bio mass suppliers. Her husband Chandana Kumara earns very little catching fish in the Kandalama tank. Anusha is providing supplementary income for the couple and their two daughters as one of the woodcutters.
With the bio mass project at Heritance Kandalama hotel Gliricidia has a novel use for the rural villagers in Kandalama, they can help fight climate change and get paid for it. Not only that, Grilicedia is considered environmental friendly on many other fronts. Abandoned and fallow lands are enriched when cultivated with Gliricidia as the nodules in the roots nitrogenise the soil acting as a natural fertilizer, its leaves provide fodder for livestock or are used as mulch to fertilize the soil preventing erosion. Gliricidia needs little attention and water and the tree’s natural replenishment cycle means it can be harvested every six months.
The Biomass plant uses wood; a renewable source compared with depleting fossil fuel, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to environment is drastically reduced, and also accumulates valuable foreign exchange savings to the country's economy due to a reduction in oil imports. Local communities have a financial benefit through the supply of approximately 60 tons of Grilicedia wood per month giving community income of over $ 55,000/= for the wood suppliers. This actively contributes to poverty alleviation and livelihood support.
According to Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels Managements, “Heritance brand is synominous with unique architecture and living traditions. In the case of Heritance Kanadalama, we have gone as far as possible to be environment friendly and our most significant effort in this area is the decision to supplement hotel’s other climate change mitigation actions by replacing non renewable fossil fuel with bio mass. We decided to opt for bio mass against other renewable energy options so that we can extend the benefits to the local communities”.
“This is a very special project and also a difficult one to operate as well, but the outcome is well worth it. We have launched a CSR programme to help fund new growers, we want to introduce Gliricidia as a new crop using fallow lands of the farmers” He argues “ We don’t want villages to cut down their fences and existing plants, but we want to help villagers to start growing for us, the project is underway. A financial contribution of $ 30 helps cultivate a ¼ acre of Gliricidia. Every six months the farmers can harvest the branches from the mother plant and get an income of about $225”.
“Our plan is to fund over 300 farmers so that we will have regenerated wood for the bio mass plant. The impact from this level of livelihood support will be tremendous in the Dambulla region”
There is a series of education and awareness workshops which communities have attended but it is a slow process convincing some that it is worth adapting and changing their growing traditions.
The hotel will also start a rapport with its guests to offset their carbon by planting Gliricidia for the villagers.
Heritance Kandalama, a national icon, is renowned for its green credentials which are monitored daily and scrupulously measured annually. It puts heavy emphasis on recycling, conservation and eco issues but is immensely proud of its reputation for empowering local youth. It trains and recruits with more than 55 per cent of staff drawn from the village including senior executives.
The hotel is an architectural masterpiece of world renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa blending perfectly in to the natural rural environment. At the point of building the hotel 15 years ago, the visionary architect used the natural landscape as the main ingredient. It is the most distinguished feature of the hotel. The hotel situated within close proximity of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka has gone to great lengths to safeguard the delicate eco system and environment in which it rests adhering to a Green Philosophy.
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Oman: luxury in the desert
A trip through Oman’s desert sees Richard Edwards discover an oasis of opulence
The Desert Nights Camp in Oman
By Richard Edwards
7:33PM GMT 12 Nov 2010
As we roared across the red-gold sand, dodging camels as we went, it seemed hard to imagine what luxury could look like in the middle of the Omani desert.
This was the land once explored by the late, great Sir Wilfred Thesiger, a quintessential English adventurer who sought out the secrets of Arabia before it was transformed forever by the oil beneath her sands.
His mission, 70 years ago, was to share the hardship of the life of the Bedu. In doing so, the explorer said he found a “freedom unatta inable in civilisation; a life unhampered by possessions".
My motive, rather ashamedly, was quite the opposite.
I wanted to know if it was possible to enjoy the romance of the de sert in serious comfort. On a short break in Oman – a cricket tour in the searing heat, o f all things – we needed a retreat to rest our weary bodies, with some luxury thrown in.
So not for us the camels that Thesiger used to cross the 100 miles of shifting sands. Instead, our team of players (and “wags”) climbed into a convoy of air-conditioned Toyota Land Cruisers (known to our driver, Zaheer, as “desert donkeys”).
The 4 x 4s set off from Muscat, the bu stling capital, and within an hour we were speeding along the sand and traversing the dunes , with windscreen wipers flapping to keep the grit off the window.
Just as it seemed we were utterly lost in this vast expanse of eye-squinting nothingness, our oasis came into view.
Desert Nights Camp (http://www.desertnightscamp.com) transports the classy interiors of a five-star boutique hotel into 30 huts, dotted 20 y ards apart around a fenced square of silken sands.
This, we would discover, is what real luxury looks like amid the desolation of the desert.
We were greeted at reception with a cool glass of mango juice and a hot flannel. The majlis (“place of sitting”) had an instant charm – handmade, dark wooden tables and desks were offset by richly coloured rugs and soft lighting on the terracotta walls.
We were led to the bedroom suites, where cream, canvas roofs sit on top of s quare huts like pointed hats. My fiancée and I wa lked through the g rand, teak door into a sumptuous living room area, decked out in tapestries, tasteful local artefacts and long cushioned benches.
After cooling down from a hot shower under the breeze of the air-con, the scent of a shuwa feast of barbecued Omani lamb began to dr ift across the camp.
We saw off the temptati on to rush to the restaurant, instead building an appet ite by sitting on the beanbags on our veranda, watching darkness fall and breathing in the romance of the bright moon, a sky full of stars and a glorious feeling of isolation.
It was around then, before what was to become a late night of dinner, drinks and dancing in front of the campfire, that I hatched a hair-brained plan to climb the sand dune towering in front of us for sunrise.
Sir Wilfred, perhaps, was still in my head.
So it was that at 5 .30am I dragged myself and my other half out of the warm, comfortable bed and set off 150 yards up the near -vertical expanse of sand.
There were moments when we questioned the wisdom of such a venture – not least when we started thinking about scorpions and snakes.
But fears that we w ere alone in dangerous territories were unfounde d: near the top we started to follow the unmistakeable trail of cigarette butts of our team’s fast bowler, who had similarly adventurous ambitions.
We found him crumpled in a heap at th e summit and there, gasping for breath, we basked in the beauty of the shimmering horizon, watching as the pale honey-colour sands took on a haze of paprika-red as the sun rose. We sat there for more than an hour, transfixed as the winds gently changed th e patterns in the sand.
Right on cue, in this Lawrence of Arabia moment, a train of camels appeared in the far distance, wandering towards the shade of some trees and shrubs.
Thesiger may have laughed at my sense of achievement. But at least I could start to appreciate his awe of the freedom these vast swathes of sand behold.
Oman's transformation in the past 40 years from a desert backwater to one of the most forward-thinking Arab nations in the Gulf has brought with it expansive tourism ambitions.
It is no longer the country the explorer remembered as "one of the very few places left where I could satisfy an urge to go where others had not been".
But it still has the power to astound.