In the Heartland of History
By Shabna Cader
Avurudu time was another opportunity to tick a location off my travel bucket list. The biggest issue has always been getting to wherever I want to go, but thankfully a bestie offered to tag along with me and also drive the way through! Yippee!
I’m one for leaving as early as possible to waste less time on the road but I feel it’s also important to take note of what time you can check in wherever you are going. These days’ hotels and resorts can be a bit extra concerned about what time guests come in and also leave, just to ensure the rooms are properly cleaned and also left to air out. I’d decided to head to the heartland of history, Dambulla and as Google Maps suggested, it would take about four hours to reach our destination - Jetwing Lake.
Traffic was unfortunately, a bit of a bummer at some of the little towns along the way and it made our arrival a tad later than planned. The afternoon sun was blazing in all its glory so it was all the more rewarding to be greeted by chilled fresh tamarind and raw mango juices at the hotel. I was quite taken by the open Bawa-esque approach to the architecture that was kept basic - rustic cement and plenty of wood tones that combined with the outdoors effortlessly. A light breeze came tickling in, cooling the air as we checked in for the night, and were guided to our rooms. Payments are left to be sorted at check-out which was a big bonus.
The hotel is home to three-room categories - deluxe, super deluxe, and suites. We’d picked the most basic but I kid you not, the deluxe rooms are quite fancy in their own way; complete with either twin or double beds, a luxury bathtub, and a private balcony amongst other little amenities. The bathrooms (in my opinion) are just as large as the room, or nearly! I like getting settled in as I arrive so it’s the usual unpacking, hanging up some of my clothes for the next 24 hours, placing my toiletries next to the vanity, and simply taking in the breathtaking views of the Siyambalawewa Tank through the secluded foliage.
Lunch was a buffet affair at the Viewing Gallery on the ground floor of the property. With sweeping views of the lush greenery, the 24-hour restaurants cook up a feast of local and global culinary favourites with a touch of Jetwing hospitality. There are a few hygienic restrictions and precautions in place due to the pandemic but the entire operation was effortless in providing us hungry travellers with ample to fill our tummies. I wouldn’t say the meal was exceptionally great, although I have to admire the variety. I was feeling the heat a bit more than usual and needed to down a chilled coke along with it however and then walk it off as I made my way towards the lake with the bestie.
Here, the world could be quiet. It could be peaceful. It could offer tranquility. And I loved every bit of it. There’s a swing we took turns getting on and taking a few fun photos of ourselves just for the heck of it. We then sat upon the grass for a while, simply looking across the vista and feeling extremely grateful to be there.
Dambulla is located in the heart of the island’s cultural triangle and hence guests have the ideal opportunity to explore and tour both history and nature in one go.
The ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are less than two hours away, as is the legendary Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The famous Dambulla Cave Temples are just a couple of minutes away. In addition to the rich history our home offers, if you are a nature and wildlife lover, you could go bird-watching, embark on a nature trail, hike to the nearby mountainous peaks or go on a safari to the Kaudulla and Minneriya National Parks. If you’re looking for something simpler, a tour along the regional surroundings of the area can also be arranged.
I’m typically the one who plans out my vacations and has something to do on my mind, but this time I gave it a rest and booked myself a much-needed aromatherapy massage at the Suwa Arana Spa. The idea of completely relaxing with a tranquil massage treatment was just what I needed and I have to admit, the experience was well worth it. Whether you’re looking to refresh, rejuvenate or simply relax, they’ve got a treatment for you. With long strokes and applied pressure to relax the body, mind, and soul, I slipped into some moments of slumber and only woke to change my position on the massage table. The head massage towards the end was the icing on the cake; soothing and invigorating at the same time.
As travellers I think we all look to some bits of added comfort and even though the design and architecture of Jetwing Lake lean towards rustic, I do appreciate the subtle luxuries.
When dusk fell unfortunately the skies grew cloudy and brought gloom in the form of heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. It was quite the visual however to sit out at my private balcony and watch the battle in the skies.
There’s always something to note on the level of hospitality that Jetwing is famous for offering. I don’t shy away from making myself clear on this whenever I travel and whenever I relate my experiences to others, even in writing. The hotel was at 50 per cent capacity thanks to Avurudu and of course offers and deals, but I did not notice much of a hit in the stride of their hospitality and service. This is no easy feat to be honest, especially when you’re also dealing with some families with little ones and large groups of people.
Yet I found the staff to be ever so courteous, kind, attentive, and helpful. It is the people that make up a big part of a memorable vacation.