Hotel with a million dollar view

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Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination and what makes it a great tourist destination for international travellers are the plethora of attractions we have to offer from our rich cultural heritage to our unique wildlife, beautiful sandy beaches and much more. All this makes our island nation one of the best tropical paradises in the world.

Located just above the Equator, Sri Lanka’s strength in attracting foreign tourists especially from colder countries that experience seasonal changes significantly, for the most part, has been the fact that our country is an ideal summer destination. However, with the ever-evolving ‘cravings’ of the traveller, even the perfect paradise such as Sri Lanka has to constantly come up with innovative ways to satisfy and amaze tourists without boring them.

Sri Lanka has lived up to this demand by producing many new and up-coming travel hotspots throughout the country. One such destination is Ella which up until relatively recently was blissfully hidden away within the misty mountains. Despite its cold climate much similar to the prevailing climates of countries in the upper latitudes, the area quickly became a tourist-favourite for its unique scenery, attractions related to the Mail Line of Ceylon General Railways (CGR), and various other fun activities and destinations that are bound to intrigue those who come.

As a result, Ella saw an exponential growth in terms of becoming a tourist-friendly town with lots and lots of hotels, resorts, homestays, and restaurants. Now, if you are thinking of visiting Ella and staying a few nights there, the options you have in terms of selecting a place to stay, is vast. From the most wallet-friendly to the expensively luxurious, you have a wide range of options to pick from and today, Ceylon Today is going to have a look at one such hotel which is suitable for anyone who is bitten by the travel bug and travelling on a shoestring budget.

How to get there

The hotel in question is Ella Valley. If you are an eager traveller and has been to Ella quite a few times in the recent past, you might have come across Ella Valley. However, the establishment recently saw a change in the management with two new enthusiastic youths coming in to takeover operations. We spoke to the new manager of Ella Valley Udara Nayanajith to know more about the hotel.

“Since the COVID-19 enforced lockdowns and travel restrictions, lots of establishments in the tourism sector lost business and were facing bankruptcy. Ella Valley too was laying dormant during the severe COVID outbreak due to lack of business, and we saw an opportunity to bring it back to life. So, in February 2022, we took over operations at Ella Valley but despite the change of management, we decided to keep the original name of the hotel because that’s how many know the hotel by,” voiced Nayanajith.

Ella Valley is located at an idyllic hideout, brimming with natural beauty and serenity, but surprisingly much closer to Ella Railway Station; 750 metres away from the station to be exact. From Ella Railway Station you can walk down the Ella-Passara Road, turn to Sapumaltenna Road and you will reach Ella Valley hotel in less than 10 minutes even if you are walking.         

Facilities

Being one of the smaller hotels in size, Ella Valley is not only easy on your wallet if you are looking for a place to book for your whole family or a group of travellers, it also promises exclusivity. Since the hotel has only two family bedrooms, one double bedroom and a dining area, you can find solace in knowing that even if you don’t book the whole hotel, there is a high chance that you might have the whole place all to yourself.

“Since we don’t have that many rooms, our staff is also a small one with many dabbling multiple responsibilities. It actually works better in terms of providing the guests with personalised service. While the privacy of the guests is guaranteed and secured, they can reach us at any given time to inquire about things to do, services they require, and overall, to let us help them in any way to enhance their overall stay at our facility,” Nayanajith revealed.

He said since there aren’t that many guests staying at the hotel at any given time, it is easier for them also, to cater to the needs of each and every guest. For example, the chef of the hotel is ready to make any type of meal upon the request of the guest. Since the majority of guests the hotel has received so far are foreigners, the go-to request in terms of meals has been Sri Lankan cuisine. However, Nayanajith assures the guests can request any type of local and foreign cuisine they crave for because the kitchen staff is ever-ready to tantalise the guests’ taste buds with their culinary skills.

There also are barbeque facilities which are available upon request, as well as personalised camping facilities. As Nayanajith revealed the hotel is ready facilitate overnight camping experiences for guests if they like, in either a pre-determined camping ground or in any location the guests are willing to camp.     

A unique view

Ella is all about the cool climate, exciting hikes and walks, and breath taking views, whether it is natural or man-made; for example the misty hills of Ella and the historic Nine Arches Bridge. However, if you are staying at Ella Valley prepare to have your breath be taken away even during your stay at the hotel as all rooms of the hotel boasts stunning, panoramic views of the Ella valley and surrounding.
“This view is the biggest asset we have,” Nayanajith said. “We get most of the bookings through booking.com ads if you visit the webpage and have a look at our reviews you will realise almost all the reviews contain a word about how beautiful the view from the hotel is.”

Things to do

Apart from being able to relax while enjoying a magnificent view of the Ella Rock and the surroundings, there is much you can do during your stay at Ella Valley. The usual destinations you can visit include, Little Adam’s Peak, Ella Railway Station, Demodara Rail Loop, Black Bridge near Demodara Railway Station, Ravana Falls, and of course the famous Nine Arches Bridge. Apart from that, if you are looking for a bit of extreme travel experience that breaks quite the sweat, you can always hike to the top of the Ella Rock and engage in hikes to the woods towards Ravana Caves and the popular Nildiya Pokuna which is underground. Also, another fan-favourite is the Flying Ravana Mega Zipline which is a stone’s throw away from the hotel. You can opt to just watch others taking the zipline or if you are the daring sort, you can always walk up to the launching pad and take the zipline down.

Ambitious plans for future

Given the country’s economy had little to no time to recover from the severe blow dealt by the pandemic with the emergence of the current economic crisis, the tourism industry in general is suffering a lot but small establishments such as Ella Valley are persevering through the multitude of hardships to stay afloat. With the fuel crisis added to the list of woes, the business the small hotel receives is far less from what the likes of Nayanajith has previously envisioned but they are somehow managing to keep the business running. Even amidst many challenges the trying times has brought along, Nayanajith is optimistic about the future and hopes the crisis will soon be over and we will be able to return to some sort of a normalcy. He also revealed some future plans he has for the hotel. “If the business booms by a satisfactory level we plan to introduce some cabanas to the hotel premises as well,” Nayanajith said.  

If you are looking for a hotel in and around Ella that is reasonable in terms of prices for your stay at Ella, look no further than Ella Valley because with its strategic location closer to all the attractions, breath taking views from the hotel, personalised service, and the easy-on-the-wallet rates, there aren’t many other hotels in Ella that can compete with Ella Valley. “We guarantee full customer satisfaction,” Nayanajith added. “We honour our guests’ requests and desires, and strive to deliver full satisfaction to the best of our abilities. Judging by the positive reviews we have received so far, from both local and foreign guests, I think we can be proud and be satisfied that we have been able to deliver just that to our guests.”

(Pix courtesy Udara Nayanajith)

By Sanuj Hathurusinghe