The common ideology about traveling to the sunny south is that everyone wants a beachfront hotel or villa. I don’t deny that the south is home to some beautiful beach spots, but I am at fault when it comes to not exploring the internal areas all too much. Whenever I visit Galle, it’s always to the same places – the UNESCO World Heritage fort and no wherever else. On my last visit however, I wanted it to be different; I wanted to head a bit away from the hustle and bustle and somewhere inland. Somewhere quiet and peaceful. And I came across Jetwing Kurulubedda.
The choice was certainly very much different to my usual vacation getaways but there’s also a sense of adventure when you make a spontaneous decision like I did. Once I had got myself to the Galle Fort I hopped into a tuk tuk who seemed to know the way and it only took us a mere ten to fifteen minutes to get to my destination. The road leading up to the property was a tad bumpy but it’s part of the experience and not something that bothers me. It’s all forgotten once you step inside – for the lush foliage and calling of the birds envelops you.
I stop and take a deep breath of the fresh, clean air and cool blue pool in front of me. Beyond the pool lies more foliage, forestry and paddy fields. The Head Butler, Prabath greets me and as I’ve already made my booking online, it’s only a matter of signing the reservation form and waiting to be led to my room. I’m a tad early though so I am asked to wait a few minutes; I don’t mind at all and instead, decide to explore Kurulubedda.
A wooden bridge and walkway lead to a private dining area, and further towards a treehouse and river edge clearing. It’s quiet and secluded and doesn’t seem like a part of the south at all. I’m told that guests can take a boat from here on towards Jetwing Lighthouse for breakfast. Maybe another time. For now, being amongst nature would do. I picked out one of the private dwellings that includes a plunge pool and as I am led towards my room, I take in the simple aesthetics and easy way of how guests share the natural habitat with nature. The setting from the dwelling verandah is picturesque and serene. The room is minimally furnished yet includes necessary amenities and has a very rustic comfort feel to it. There’s a television set along with a DVD player and a couple of movie options laid out, and I make a mental note to watch one while in bed later that night.
The property is home to a jungle of exotic bird species, monkeys and six luxury villas; that offer complete privacy in an eco boutique flair. Four of the villas are deluxe rooms with open air showers overlooking the pool and paddy fields. Two of them are dwellings with their own plunge pools and overlook the jungle canopy. Although the skies were looking a tad overcast, I want to make use of the pool; my private plunge pool however was a tad too chilly for my liking and since there was no one else on the property, I took the liberty of a couple of easy laps in the main pool. Drinks and snacks can be ordered by the poolside but I have to admit, the service was slow.
As the afternoon turned to dusk, I retreated back to my cosy room for a warm shower and propped my feet up on one of the lounge chairs on the verandah. I could do this for hours, I thought to myself. Feet propped up, no care in the world and a beautiful serene setting right before my eyes. Although complete isolation is not everyone’s cup of tea, I would recommend it at least for a day; it helps clear the mind and relax the body. One can dine either on the verandah, beside the pool or at the rooftop I came across earlier but I thought it’ll be nice to enjoy a good meal by the pool for the night and perhaps have breakfast up in my room the next day.
Like I said, if the isolation and quiet life isn’t for you, there are plenty of excursions that can be arranged by the staff. There’s a cinnamon farm nearby and guests can experience the peeling and drying process for themselves, along with also visiting the Handunugoda Tea Estate which is a couple of kilometres away. This farm also produces virgin white tea which is known to be the world’s most expensive type of brew. As said earlier, Galle is only a mere 3kms away and easily accessible too. River side safaris and a visit to a nearby conservation forest can also be arranged. If you’ve got the urge to go for a sea swim or beach walk, that’s accessible too – whether it’s Galle or Unawatuna; only a couple of minutes away.
At dinner, once again, the service could have been a tad robust because it took some time to bring out my salad, main and dessert but it’s not like I had other plans for the night so I didn’t mind. The menu isn’t too limiting, but I did think it could have done with a few tweaks. I opted for a gotukola and grilled prawn salad, a tomato and parmasan pasta for my mail and a delicious mousse for dessert. I’m told the food is prepared with the use of home grown produce, by Prabath who has also offered information of what to do in the area. I wasn’t here for the excursions, I craved and enjoyed my alone time.
I had a pretty restful night and woke up to the sounds of rustling leaves and more chirping birds. I may not know one bird from another but it doesn’t mean I don’t bask in the calling of nature when I am surrounded by it. Breakfast arrived promptly at the time I had mentioned the night before and was a complete Sri Lankan fare of stringhoppers, plain and egg hoppers, chicken curry, fish curry, pol sambol and seeni sambol. I took my own cool time enjoying every bit of it and grudgingly headed back to the room to pack. Yes, I’d only booked a single night stay. It wasn’t enough for me. I make a mental note to come back and stay for two nights.