Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 3 August 2020

Tick all the right boxes on rocky wild coast

The welcome

The reception area is unostentatiously small at the entrance to the five-hectare estate. We check in, and our butler arrives on a buggy. The room isn’t ready (it’s only 11am), so he takes us to the main dining pavilion, at the edge of the headland perched on a 36-metre-high cliff. The view is breathtaking, with rusty-red cliffs framing a sapphire sea dotted with fishing and whale-watching boats.

The neighbourhood

Galle, with its Unesco-approved, 400-year-old Dutch fort and attractive shops, is a 30-minute drive away. Most of the coast along here is rocky and wild, but Weligama and the neighbouring Mirissa boast long sandy beaches. This is the main tourist area of the island, and since the end of the civil war, new hotels (some boutique, others for backpackers) have mushroomed.

The scene

The resort was created to give a seaside offering to the Dilmah tea company, whose six Tea Trail cottages (a new one opened this year) are booked-up all year round. Other properties are planned, with the idea being that the whole country can be toured under the wing of Resplendent Ceylon, the company behind Cape Weligama. Many of the resort’s guests seem to be European and Chinese. Families can stay in the walauwas, a series of two-storey villas, with interconnecting bedrooms on each floor, surrounding the children’s pool.

The room

There are 40 villas and suites. We’re in Ernst Haeckel Watta. Each watta, or garden, has two or three villas sharing a pool. Other villas are bigger and grander, but this is peaceful with the best view. The garden is green and lush, while there are also views of the ocean from the bed and bathroom, which has floor-to-ceiling glass and its own steam room. It catches the sea breeze, making the open-air sitting room a delight.

The service

There’s nothing to complain about. Our butler is efficient and, thankfully, not at all servile. At the crescent-shaped infinity pool, staff bring iced fruit sticks.

The food

Restaurants open on rotation. Kumbuk is set up in traditional Sri Lankan style – it’s open-air, with long trestle tables and spicy curries. The buffet (US$25 [Dh92]) is delicious, although with hardly any lighting, getting back to the table is a challenge. Diners are encouraged to eat with their hands. Pola reminds me of Fishmarket in the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, where your chosen fish is cooked to order. There’s a European menu in the main restaurant, where I have a great gazpacho, followed by olive-and-herb-crusted baked pavé of modha fish with pickled vegetables ($45 [Dh165]). The biggest nod to where we are is Taylor’s Pavilion, an attractive tea salon named after one of the first planters.

Loved

The restaurant terrace – the food and the view.

Hated

The difficult access to Weligama beach.

The verdict

The location, service, rooms and food tick all the boxes, but at a price.

The bottom Line

Rooms at Cape Weligama (www.capeweligama.com) cost from $442 (Dh1,623), including breakfast, laundry, minibar, afternoon cream tea, a daily activity (such as snorkelling) and taxes.

This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: October 27, 2016 04:00 AM

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