The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

SRI Lanka’s most cel­e­brated ar­chi­tect, Ge­of­frey Bawa, worked on ho­tels as well as pri­vate res­i­dences and pub­lic build­ings in his home­land, so trav­ellers can bed down amid his strik­ing, and fre­quently ground­break­ing, de­signs. His Her­i­tance Kan­dalama prop­erty is the prize pick for sev­eral rea­sons. Its lo­ca­tion is su­perb, in the Cul­tural Tri­an­gle of cen­tral Sri Lanka, close to the World Her­itage-listed 5th-cen­tury rock fortress of Si­giriya and the Bud­dhist caves of Dam­bulla and about 170km from Colombo. The de­sign is dra­matic, and cer­tainly vi­sion­ary for its time (it was built in the early 1990s); the 1km-long ho­tel is built into a cliff like some kind of jun­gle hide-out and is so thor­oughly tan­gled in creep­ers and banyans that from cer­tain an­gles the ex­te­rior is barely vis­i­ble. Gue­strooms open off wind­ing ce­ment walk­ways pa­trolled by bats, and don’t be sur­prised if a mon­key hops on to your bal­cony. The decor is min­i­mal­ist to the point of bare and it’s be­lieved Bawa imag­ined Her­i­tance Kan­dalama would sim­ply ‘‘bio-de­grade’’ in time. The ho­tel looks over a reser­voir built 1700 years ago as part of an elab­o­rate ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem. Aus­tralian op­er­a­tor Wildlife Sa­fari in­cludes Her­i­tance Kan­dalama in a range of its tai­lored itin­er­ar­ies. More: 1800 998 558; wildlife­sa­fari.com.au.

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