When I entered my villa at the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle, I picked up a card addressed to me and read one simple note inside: “Welcome to Paradise”. I was sceptical… was this some hyperbole plastered all over those Thomas Cook adverts? Yes, the traditional singers who welcomed you as you crossed a Zen like water feature was a great touch but could this resort differentiate itself from the others?
Given we had two toddlers, we opted to stay in a spacious villa as opposed to a normal hotel room. We were shown to our villa by Yohan who would be our Villa Host for the time we stayed. You may wonder what the duties of a Villa Host may entail. Well it’s anything and everything! Yohan would pick us up in a tuk tuk and chauffer us to the various restaurants, pick my kids up from the Children’s Club, and even arrange for tailoring. I could only describe him as your personal millennial concierge with WhatsApp! As soon as we were introduced to our villa with accompanying cinematic music in the background, we admired our surroundings like we were giving a performance of a lifetime for a TV advertisement. The room was spectacular with an equally impressive and spacious bathroom - perfect for a family of four. I have never seen my wife grinning from ear to ear before. Clearly, I have finally done something right!
We stayed in the Garden View Villa which was set in a secluded spot at the back of a rather expansive resort. It was away from the beach and the main pool which we didn’t mind as the villa boasted its own private infinity pool which turned out to be great for kids to play around in as soon as they got out of bed. Although, the pool was a bit too convenient as I found out to my detriment when I went for an impromptu swim with my iPhone still in my pocket….!
The resort had a community feel to it which I hadn’t experienced before at a resort and this is the main charm about the Anantara Tangalle. Right from the traditional greeting including foot massage, to the traditional farewell ceremonies, it set the tone for the duration of our stay. Not only do the staff make you feel at home, they chat to you like old friends catching up with one another. By only the second day, restaurant staff would address me by my name which is impressive given there were hundreds of guests staying there. The staff at the Children’s Club would wave to us as we sped past in a tuk tuk as if they had been looking after our children since they started nursery!
Uniquely, the expansive grounds of the Anantara Tangalle was surrounded by rice paddies, as well as its own king coconut tree plantation. It even had its own variety of indigenous animals sharing the grounds with the hotel guests. It’s not uncommon to walk past peacocks and other wildlife on the way to breakfast. The nature walks organised by the Children’s Club were a big draw for both the kids and parents alike. The Anantara Tangalle was not just a resort where people lazed by the pool or beach, there were plenty of activities for someone active like me. Aside from sunrise surfing to sunset yoga, there were day excursions to various national parks, whale and turtle watching.
The Ayurvedic spa was my wife’s favourite feature of the hotel. I think she spent more time there than our villa! When you think of a hotel spa you instantly think of a reception and one or two treatment rooms. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the spa at the Anantara Tangalle is the size of a boutique hotel! It was equipped with several treatment rooms and various relaxation areas. There was even an onsite Ayurvedic doctor who came in handy when my wife had sustained neck pain caused by all the travelling we did.
The Anantara Tangalle is a perfect break after doing a 10+ days loop of the Sri Lanka where you would have already explored much of the country and sampled the local cuisine or longer for returning visitors. Sometimes when I do a tour of a country with my family, it’s a good idea to build a few days out of the daily car journeys and packing and unpacking to just focus on the family and where better to do it than in the community paradise at the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle.