Sarah Gilbert is a globetrotting freelance writer who contributes to a variety of magazines, newspapers and websites, including Wanderlust, The Guardian and LonelyPlanet.com. She’s visited 65 countries and counting, and feels equally at home in a luxury resort in the Indian Ocean and a wooden hut in the Amazon rainforest. Follow her on twitter @sarahgtravels
Following the recent opening of Tri, we sent renowned journalist Sarah Gilbert to write about her experience of the resort. From stunning architecture, to delicious food, she shares all of her impressions with you.
Among Sri Lanka’s growing list of new properties, Tri stands apart, spread across six verdant acres on the banks of Lake Koggala, between tea plantations and the coast and, quite literally, off-the-beaten-track.
It’s been a labour of love for British-born owner Robert Drummond, who enlisted the help of an award-winning Asian architect to realise his vision of sustainable luxury and cutting-edge design, inspired by the spirals of the Fibonacci sequence and nature’s ubiquitous Golden Ratio.
The main path winds around the lush landscape, past lemongrass bushes and the spreading branches of an ancient banyan tree. At its heart, a cinnamon-stick covered water tower has panoramic views over the sapphire-blue lake and surrounding emerald-green paddy fields, and rooftop space, as well as three of the most budget-friendly rooms.
It’s encircled by eight villas – one family sized, three with private plunge pools, and all with living roofs that blend into the landscape, spacious terraces and sunrise or sunset views over the lake through floor-to-ceiling windows.
There’s no nod to old Ceylon here, no antique furniture and parlour palms. This is a new look Sri Lanka, all open plan, high ceilings and clean lines, mixing up local materials such as warm-toned jak wood and granite with white walls and cool tiled floors. King-size beds are clad in crisp white linens and furniture is covered in locally made fabrics that come in unusually muted tones.
There’s a focus on wellbeing, with daily classes in the open-sided treetop yoga shala, a steam cave and indulgent massages in the two-suite spa, courtesy of a line-up of visiting natural health practitioners and personal trainers.
A 21-metre infinity swimming pool seems to overhang the lake, surrounded by a wide terrace for sunbathing and stargazing, and a soundtrack courtesy of the whirr of cicadas and the trill of birds. Or escape the steamy heat and chill out in the air-conditioned, glass-walled library above the spa.
Under the cantilevered roof of the two-storey main building there’s a bar and plenty of laidback lounging space. Below, the indoor-outdoor restaurant serves up a fresh take on Sri Lankan classics. Six-course tasting menus use seasonal ingredients – including vegetables and herbs plucked from Tri’s organic garden – in creative ways, perhaps in a fragrant curry, white tea pannacotta or buffalo curd ice-cream.
Tri’s strategic location – it’s a 3.5-hour drive from Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport, or take the Air Taxi service to Koggala Lake, or swap one lake for another and arrive by seaplane from Castlereagh – makes it the perfect base to explore.
The in-house guest experience team can tailor trips to ancient temples, tea plantations and cinnamon producers, as well as introducing guests to local artists and craftspeople. Galle’s atmospheric 17th-century fort is just a 30-minute drive away; idyllic beaches, whale watching from Mirissa, leopard spotting at Yala and Uda Walawe’s herds of elephants are also within easy reach.
Or after racing around the Cultural Triangle, simply cruise around the lake on Tri’s bespoke dhoni and relish the serenity.
If you’d like to include a stay at Tri in your holiday,or another boutique hotel, we can add this property to your tailor-made itinerary. For some ideas on how it could work, have a look at the holiday ideas below. Do note that, whilst none of them specifically list Tri as a hotel included in the holiday, they’ve been especially chosen because they very much suit a stay at this resort, both in terms of location and pace.
Remember, these are just a starting point. All our holidays are tailor-made to suit your preferences, so we can tweak activities and hotels wherever you’d like. If you wanted talk to a specialist about your Sri Lanka holiday you can always phone us on 020 3411 1995.
If contacting us via email is easier for you, you can do it here. There are absolutely no obligations and we’re here to offer advice for any stage of your holiday planning.