Anantara’s second resort in Sri Lanka has a stellar pedigree. It was designed by legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa and is tucked away on the rugged southwest coast less than 90 minutes from Colombo and just over an hour from the World Heritage-listed Galle Fort.
The Anantara Kalutara Resort features 141 guestrooms, suites and pool villas providing tropical views; situated between the ocean and Kalu Ganga River, the property offers coastal, river and lagoon frontage and accommodation outlooks vary accordingly.
The main resort building is Dutch colonial in style; elsewhere Bawa’s pared-back but elegant style has provided inspiration for the relaxed interiors. Guestrooms are large, the smallest at 60sq m; each features a balcony or terrace, king or twin beds, free Wi-Fi access, ensuite with tub, Nespresso machine and smart TV.
Suites are set apart and have their own lounge; guests here and in the one and two-bedroom pool villas also have the services of a villa host.
Wine humidors (handy in the sultry tropics) and Bose sound are added luxuries.
Other facilities include a watersports centre, gym staffed by personal trainers, children’s club and large double-height day spa with 10 treatment rooms.
Surrounded by a lotus pond, the spa also features a separate pavilion hosting yoga and meditation classes.
DON’T MISS: Some quiet moments in the library, dedicated to Bawa and showcasing drawings from his architectural archive.
DINING IN & OUT: Italian-born executive chef Gaetano Sgroi, whose CV includes stints as personal chef to former Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, oversees three restaurants within the resort. At Olu, he recommends the signature salad (waterlily roots with organic chicken simmered in coconut milk and chilli, wild gotu kola leaves, pomelo, plantation coconut shavings, green tea and lime dressing); in Acquolina, it’s a Milano classic, risotto zafferano with Calabrian saffron, two-year-aged parmesan and gold leaf. In Spice Traders, he suggests the bamboo steamed wild sea bass. The busy kitchen also offers cooking classes and provides private meals in romantic locales.
ASK THE CONCIERGE: Book your stay over a full moon to experience Poya Day celebrations; 10 minutes from the resort you’ll find the world’s only hollow stupa, Kalatura Vihara, lined with murals.
CHECKING IN: From $444. To December 19, take advantage of a short breaks special. Stay a minimum two nights (from $274 a night plus tax) and get breakfasts, discounted dining and spa treatments and be in line for a room upgrade and late check-out. More: kalutara.anantara.com.
ALSO TRY: Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort, Thailand; Neeleshwar Hermitage, Kerala, India.
CHRISTINE McCABE Anantara may be busy in Sri Lanka but it has also opened a new 115-room resort in Oman; Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is situated on a canyon’s edge high in the Al Hajar mountains, two hours from Muscat, the capital • Next month Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts opens a second property in China’s Harbin; the 344-room Songbei Shangri-La Harbin occupies a prime position on the edge of the Songhua River’s north bank offering river and city views • Dorchester Collection’s legendary Hotel Eden in Rome, closed for a top-to-toe makeover, will reopen on April 1; bookings can be made now • The opening of the 97room Capri by Fraser in Barcelona signals the start of a rapid expansion of the millennial focused brand, which has six hotels including one in Brisbane where iPad check-ins and an e-Concierge are the norm; 13 hotels are planned in 10 cities including Berlin and Shanghai • On Friday, London’s Claridge’s will unveil its famous Christmas tree, this year conceived by Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive and Australia’s Marc Newson; guests at the hotel on Christmas Eve can look forward to carols and horsedrawn carriage rides through Mayfair.