Can old Ceylon style meet innovation and luxury, remaining true to its rich heritage? The answer is yes. Step into the majestic building of The Fortress Resort & Spa with us, and discover why this striking hotel, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a true insight into Sri Lankan culture, colonial architecture, delightful cuisine and charming hospitality.
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Hitting headlines all over the world because of its status as a ‘trending destination’, and considered by many as an ‘India-lite’ experience, Sri Lanka is a country where unparalleled natural beauty, ancient traditions and modern flair blend to perfection, creating a once-in-a-lifetime travelling experience that over 2.5 million tourists will embark in 2018.
“The fact that direct flights from the UK, Australia and India are now available has really opened the doors to tourism, and Sri Lanka is now booming with opportunities”, says Jan Van Twest, Director and General Manager of the Fortress Resort & Spa.
The journey to The Fortress Resort & Spa will take you to one of the most popular destinations in the country: Southern Sri Lanka, home to impressive palm-fringed beaches, busy coastal towns such as Mirissa and Unawantuna, and to Galle – a beautiful colonial city commanded by the impressive 17th-century Dutch fortress and UNESCO World Heritage-Site, Galle Fort.
“The city of Galle is just twenty minutes away by tuk-tuk from The Fortress. Galle is chic, rich in history and usually the last stop everyone chooses to go to on their Sri Lankan adventure. It’s a place to unwind after long days of exploring, it stands for sun, endless beaches and surf – but also traditions: look out to the sea and you will see one of the most interesting practice still being used, stilt fishing”, says the Director as we sip a unique, refreshing concoction of Cinnamon Ice tea, blended with homemade cinnamon sorbet, lime and apple juice.
Arriving at this unique resort is an event in itself: walking through the impressive doors, resembling the ones of a fortress, is like entering a parallel universe of peace and tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of the Sri Lankan roads.
A sense of openness and freedom strikes you from the beginning: picture large open verandas, internal courtyards wrapped in pillars opening to an eye-catching infinity pool right on the edge of the beach- a spectacular sight, framed by swaying palm trees and turquoise waters.
Opened in 2007 and designed by local architect Nihal Bodhinayake, The Fortress captures the essence of colonialist architecture and the concept the two directors wanted to achieve: “What we had in mind was Old Ceylon style meeting modernity and luxury, keeping it as close to the spirit of the area as we could”, says Jan van Twest.
The Fortress Resort & Spa’s facilities, just as its architecture, are impeccable: the infinity pool is divided into three sections, with one dedicated to kids, ensuring fun for all, young to old – an objective that staff at the resort strive to meet.
The award-winning Spa, Spa Naturel, offers international treatments and Ayurveda therapies with natural ingredients sourced by the in-house Ayurveda doctor, while the three restaurants, under the guidance of local star Chef Asanka Wickramasinghe, showcase delightful menus with both international and Sri Lankan cuisine on offer.
Boasting 53 luxurious rooms in total, with six exclusive styles from the cozy Fortress Rooms to the majestic Ocean Loft Suites, the rooms of The Fortress Resort & Spa are the biggest in the country, as Director Van Twest mentions: “Each room is basically 85sqm, up to 150sqm: they really are the largest rooms in all of Sri Lanka. All of our rooms are equipped with incredible amenities, luxury hardwood, signature Sealy mattress, organic cotton pillows, coffee machines, minibar and more, to ensure an experience of absolute comfort.”
The Beach Rooms surely are majestic: the open bathroom is complete with a Spa bath, Bulgari toiletries and a massive rain shower. In the bedroom, a cozy corner couch and a spectacular king bed fitted with the finest Frette linen imported from Italy await, but the spotlight is all on the unparalleled ocean views on offer thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors opening onto a private slice of garden complete with sun loungers and, a few steps further, the golden sands of Kogalla Beach.
Executive Chef Asanka Wickramasinghe is a star in Sri Lanka: his career is tapered with a wide number of awards and accolades, including a 2015 Gold Medal at the Bocuse d’Or Sri Lanka, and he was also chosen to represent the country at the Bocuse d’Or Asia in 2016.
“It’s all about local produce,” says Asanka as we enjoy a private cooking lesson with him. “Every morning we go to the market and check what’s available, the fish here is incredible.” Asanka is a creative mind and whips up gastronomic masterpieces with a unique, innovative style influenced by French cuisine.
With a team of over 25 people under his wing, Head Chef Asanka and the kitchen team at The Fortress make every meal an event, with options for everyone: from a remarkable breakfast buffet with a huge variety of Sri Lankan curries, noodles, fried rice, homemade bread and pastries to made to order eggs and pancakes; from fiery curries and crunchy pappadums to delicious seafood grilled to order for dinner, the food at The Fortress is just a casual affair of delightful options.
“Guests can choose between three restaurants,” says Asela Rajakaruna, Director of Food & Beverage. “White offers the most authentic Sri Lankan cuisine and international options. Salty Snapper is the place to go if you feel like fresh seafood. And Duo, well if you have a special occasion, Duo is the place to go.”
Duo, located within the resort’s wine cellar, features a romantic candlelit atmosphere and a sophisticated menu. With over 2,000 old and new world wines and the world’s most expensive dessert on offer (a whopping $14,500 for an exceptional, three-layered chocolate & champagne creation with a side of an aquamarine stone placed upon a model of a fisherman clinging to a stilt), Duo is the perfect place for a special occasion.
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Image courtesy of The Fortress Resort & Spa
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