Holiday type

Review: PureandCure's Kim's visit to Ayurveda hotels in Sri Lanka

December 22, 2023

As soon as I step off the plane in Sri Lanka, the unmistakable wave of Asian heat embraces me. It's a delightful feeling. I'm incredibly grateful to be here, relishing the luxury of exploring the finest Ayurveda resorts in the country as a Puurenkuur team member. This journey involves visiting six different Ayurveda resorts, each with its own unique character and style. Afterward, I would love to explore more of Sri Lanka, connecting with nature, cultural heritages and the friendly people. I very much recommend this to everyone by the way, either before or after your Ayurvedic retreat.

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Siddhalepa Ayurveda

It's evening when I reach Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort. The welcoming hotel team eases the fatigue of my long journey with a cup of herbal tea and a seamless check-in process. Quickly, I stroll to my room with an umbrella in hand, shielding myself from the tropical rain. As darkness sets in, I apply mosquito repellent, knowing these persistent insects will find me even in the dim light.

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Favorite meal

My room is beautiful, featuring the comfiest bed in the world. (Every bed feels like the best when you're extremely tired, but fortunately, I didn't have to revise this opinion on the second day.) The first dinner at an Ayurveda resort is always a favorite of mine. The doctor hasn't provided any dietary advice yet, so I can help myself to whatever I desire. As I lift the lids of the buffet, delightful spicy and tropical aromas waft towards me.

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Are you stressed?

The following day kicks off with a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor. I answer all questions honestly, stick out my tongue as requested for inspection, and try not to blink as the doctor examines the whites of my eyes. He checks my pulse and asks, 'Are you experiencing stress?' It's a confronting question. 'Yes,' I confess, feeling my pulse hasten.

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Renovations

While the doctor devises the plan for my treatments and herbal medications, I take a stroll. The hotel is right by the beach, but I decide to wander through the gardens filled with palm trees and tropical plants where the cottages are nestled. Some remnants of the pandemic are still visible. The resort had to remain closed for an extended period. Renovations were momentarily paused to ensure the staff continued to be paid, but now they are catching up. The rooms have already undergone complete renovations, and a new yoga pavilion is in the works.

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The treatments - on hand

After a delightful lunch, I make my way to the spa for my treatments. My therapist warmly guides me to the Ayurvedic center, and she becomes my dedicated practitioner throughout my stay. I feel relaxation setting in during the head, foot, and body massages. A deep sigh escapes me as I finally recline in the exquisite bath, surrounded by healing herbs floating in the water.

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Daily scalp massage

Each morning, my attending physician asks, 'How are you doing? Any concerns?' My answers guide the day's treatments. A consistent highlight is the morning head massage—such a delight! It's genuinely one of my favorite massages. You recline in a wooden box on a wooden frame with two pots of hot, fragrant water beneath you. Fortunately, you keep your head cool as it extends beyond the box.

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Intimate and unforgettable

After three delightful nights, it's time to say goodbye. The intimate atmosphere of this resort has made my stay truly unforgettable. I express my gratitude to the friendly staff, who knew me by name since day one, and to the fellow guests I connected with during yoga sessions by the pool and over shared meals.

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Heritance Maha Gedara

En route to Heritance Maha Gedara, I'm captivated by the scenery. The sun shines, the sea and palm trees pass by the window, and locals zoom past in tuk-tuks. Despite the hustle, numerous cows graze serenely along the roadside—a lesson in zen amidst the lively surroundings.

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Mosquito tricks

The team at Heritance Maha Gedara warmly welcomes me. In my room, the receptionist advises me to keep the doors closed at sunset (peak mosquito hours). The air conditioning is turned off in the evenings and mornings, following Ayurvedic principles that suggest the body retains warmth better. It's also recommended for a more comfortable return after morning treatments, as coming back to a room that feels like a refrigerator hinders the absorption of the special oil.

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Divine Ayurveda Center

After savoring a delightful lunch from the expansive buffet, I stroll over to the Ayurveda center, and it's a sight to behold. Water and water lilies grace every corner, and even the therapists wear flowers in their hair. The doctor guides me on the best diet for my pitta-vata dosha, detailing what to embrace and what to avoid. Immediately following, my first treatments are lined up. The massages are simply heavenly. In this Ayurveda center, a private treatment room awaits, where various therapists provide specialized treatments.

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Peacocks Strutting and Flying Foxes Soaring

I had forgotten the sheer bliss of a synchronized massage, but the skilled therapists here served as a delightful reminder. Following the massage, I luxuriate in my personal herbal bath. Sipping tea, I enjoy the sight of peacocks strutting and flying foxes gliding through the garden. While I could easily spend hours soaking, I'm due for a moment of delightful decision-making at the expansive lunch, offering a plethora of tempting choices.

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Precision Check – Dotting the 'i's and Crossing the 't's

While my stay is a wonderfully relaxing experience, it doubles as a working holiday. I pay attention to the essential details for our guests. Are there towels available by the pool? Can I brew my own tea in the room? If traveling solo but not with a partner, is a twin bed an option? And can you embark on excursions from the resort? At Heritance Maha Gedara, every detail is thoughtfully addressed.

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Exceptionally Friendly Staff

Heritance Maha Gedara has genuinely exceeded my expectations, particularly with its luxurious ambiance and the warmth of its staff. From housekeeping to the beach attendants, therapists, and waitstaff, everyone is not only friendly but also consistently expresses a sincere interest in your well-being.

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Lotus Villa

Nestled within the intimate setting of Lotus Villa, a dedicated Ayurvedic retreat, the resort upholds a purist approach. They exclusively offer programs lasting a minimum of two weeks – the necessary time for genuine transformation. This commitment to Ayurvedic principles extends to the rooms, where the absence of air conditioning may take some getting used to. Yet, the tranquil views of the garden and beach effortlessly compensate for it.

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Gentle and Compassionate Treatments

The therapists here are incredibly skilled and carry out treatments with genuine care. Although the center has a more open layout, offering less privacy in the treatment room, any initial concerns quickly dissipate once the expert massages begin. Post-treatment, you can unwind in the shade of the palm trees wearing your Ayurvedic robe. This clever choice ensures the oil can effectively absorb without any risk of soiling your personal clothes.

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Cozy, intimate, and Smart Service

At this hotel, dining is not about navigating a buffet. Individually tailored meals are served at the communal table, creating a cozy atmosphere, especially for solo travelers like myself. Another highlight: the hotel arranges your room based on your flight details. Arriving in the middle of the night? No problem, they ensure immediate room access. If your return transfer is set for 4:00 PM, you can stay in your room until then. Additionally, the hotel organizes several complimentary cultural excursions.

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Pristine and Clean Sandy Beach

Lotus Villa is dedicated to sustainability. The vibrant green garden is irrigated with filtered recycled water. They grow their own vegetables and herbs, and all medicines are crafted in-house. An independent inspection team ensures they meet rigorous standards. This love for nature extends to the meticulously kept beach, featuring fine, pristine sand – unquestionably the most beautiful beach I've encountered in Sri Lanka. Ideal for a morning or evening stroll (Tip: avoid midday when it's scorching hot).

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Haritha Villas

Exploring a new destination is the most exciting experience. The photos of Haritha's Villas are incredibly promising. Do they live up to the expectations? Absolutely! Upon arrival, I notice that Haritha Villas might be even more stunning in person than in the photos. 'Haritha' translates to 'green' in the local language, which is fitting because, no matter which direction you look, you'll see jungle or fields. It's beautiful in every aspect. The experience is also luxurious. I'm staying in a private villa with my own pool and a butler – having someone take care of everything and go above and beyond to ensure my satisfaction is truly delightful.

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Supersize lunch

The lunch menu offers more than just Ayurvedic dishes. My attention is drawn to the club sandwich. Yes, please! The sandwich is not only substantial, but after a week of nourishing Ayurvedic meals, I realize my stomach isn't as spacious as my eyes thought. Despite its fantastic taste, I find it challenging to finish even half of it.

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Jungle Spa

The Jungle Spa truly lives up to its name. As I enjoy a delightful cup of tea, I fill out a questionnaire specifying areas of my body needing extra attention and those requiring gentleness. The beautiful dressing room provides a serene setting for changing. The treatment begins with a foot bath infused with wonderfully scented oils—though I can't quite identify the fragrance, it's heavenly. Nestled on the treatment table, as the therapist places the bowl of aromas beneath me, I feel my entire body unwind. I relish every blissful minute.

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A lot of privacy

As I stroll towards the restaurant in the evening darkness after my treatment, my butler is already waiting. For dinner, I have the option to choose from the menu. Despite the late hour, I find myself dining alone, with no other guests in sight. The butler shares that most guests prefer to enjoy their meals in the privacy of their villas. So, if you seek absolute seclusion, this is the perfect spot. However, if you're a solo traveler looking for more interaction than just with your butler, this might not be the ideal place. Despite the serene atmosphere, I personally find the restaurant to be a more enjoyable setting for meals than in my villa, prompting me to dine here for the rest of my stay.

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Visit to a Fishing Village with Dutch Heritage

Haritha Villas is conveniently located just a half-hour drive from Galle, a fishing village where the Dutch colonial past is vividly evident. The hotel arranges a car with a driver for me, who patiently waits on-site. If you prefer Uber, that's also a viable option in Sri Lanka. As I stroll along, I come across Dutch churches and read the Dutch inscriptions on the tombstones—quite a peculiar experience.

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Sen Wellness

The final stop on my Sri Lanka tour is Sen Wellness. The journey there is bumpy due to the heavy rain in recent weeks. Not very comfortable, but fortunately, my experienced driver skillfully navigates around the potholes and safely drops me off. The entrance is impressively beautiful, featuring a unique design with exclusively round shapes. Even my room is circular. I don't have much time to explore my room as the spa awaits me for a welcome foot massage. Wow, it's incredibly good. I can imagine it being even more enjoyable if you've just arrived after a long flight.

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Dancing with a Monk

After the massage, I opt for a meditation session with a monk, and it turns out to be quite extraordinary! We start with chanting mantras. Despite not understanding their meanings and unsure about my pronunciation, I join in as best as I can. After a few mantras, the monk surprises us by suggesting we dance. We initially think it's a joke and share a sheepish laugh. However, to our amazement, the music starts playing, and in no time, I find myself dancing with a group of strangers to Sri Lankan music. It's both unexpected and effective – I'm completely in the moment, not thinking about anything else. I should incorporate this into my routine more often! And it seems I'm not the only one who thinks so. As we lie on our mats with our eyes closed for the closing, I catch a slight snore to my left, haha.

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Dinner time

At Sen Wellness, we gather for meals at the same table at designated times, creating a cozy atmosphere that I personally enjoy. The dishes are both healthy and light, crafted in consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor. Considering the early morning yoga class starting at 6:00 am the next day, everyone tends to retire early.

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Turtle beach

After the morning yoga, I embark on a beach walk, and it proves to be quite invigorating. The beach isn't a smooth, paved path, and with every step, I sink deep—a proper workout that definitely jolts me awake. However, this uneven terrain adds a unique charm to the beach, as it serves as a nesting ground for turtles. The beach rangers carefully relocate the eggs to safe spots, away from monitor lizards. If you're fortunate, you might even witness the magical moment when the eggs hatch, and the little ones make their way towards the sea.

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Special guest

My 'work' is complete, and to extend my stay for exploration, I've added a week to my working vacation. I highly recommend this if you have the time, as Sri Lanka is a breathtaking country with incredibly beautiful landscapes. I venture to Yala National Park for a safari, hoping to catch a glimpse of a wild hippo. Although a bit challenging during the rainy season (apparently, these swimmers dislike wet feet), I'm treated to magnificent birds, crocodiles, deer, water buffaloes, and elephants. In the evening, while visiting the hotel pool, I unexpectedly encounter a wild elephant. With casual ease, he dismantles the outdoor shower for a refreshing sip. Afterwards, he strolls away casually, as if he also has a room in the hotel. I'm left in awe after this extraordinary encounter—a wonderful conclusion to a fantastic journey in a remarkable country.

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Kim

Kim (1992) has been part of the PureandCure Team since 2012 and is currently our Operation Manager. She travels around the globe inspecting the PureandCure Health & Wellbeing Hotels, Spas, and Retreats, sharing her experiences and observations in her blogs.

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