FAMILY FRIENDLY, BOUTIQUE LUXURY, IN THE HEART OF SRI LANKA’S HILL COUNTRY.
Picture the scene: you’ve been travelling as a family for a few weeks, having the time of your lives experiencing all that Sri Lanka has to offer. You’re happy but perhaps a little weary, head full of memories but in need of some time to pause. Family travel has its challenges so, every now and then, you need to head somewhere slightly off the tourist trail for a chance to recharge and savour a little bit of luxury. You’ve all deserved it.
Living Heritage Koslanda (LHK) is one of those picture perfect resorts you sometimes see in glossy magazines at doctor’s surgeries; you look at the pictures longingly but fold the magazine away, assuming it’s for someone else, perhaps someone with more money and less children. But therein lies the magic of LHK – it’s an affordable slice of luxury perfectly suited to families. This beautiful resort, crafted with great care and sensitivity out of eighty acres of pristine Sri Lankan jungle, may be tucked away from the country’s well-known tourist sights but has enough activities, fun and friendly staff to make it the highlight of your holiday.
Arriving to Living Heritage Koslanda
The mood is set as soon as you arrive, the unmarked entrance to the resort is down a dusty, bouncy track which immediately builds up a feeling of getting away from it all. Our tuk-tuk driver edged along the road, unsure if we were going the right way but Google Maps (and the general sense of excitement) guided us along. A slow walk down the path led us to Mr Carrim, the smiling, happy General Manager who would look after us so well over the next few days.
The over-riding feeling of LHK is that of tranquility and being close to nature. Cloud-covered hills frame the horizon, vast spaces of lawn invite the children to play and the only tweets come from the birds nestled in the trees.
This is enhanced even further by the extraordinarily stylish suites (four in total) which sit on a small hill overlooking the rolling hills in the distance. Each luxury villa, sympathetically designed to fit the magical setting, comes equipped with an outdoor seating area, outdoor plunge pool and shower, en-suite bathroom, spacious open air living area centred around an ornamental light-well and an elegant double bedroom boasting high A-frame beams (with extra beds available for the children). Locally-sourced antique furniture provide a homely feel, including a small table and chairs for the kids, plus all the practicalities you will need; fridge, kettle and TV (with a choice of kids’ DVDs).
We must also give a special mention here to the magic of the bedroom. We had our very first over-sleep in four years (gasp!). It must have been the combination of soft beds, pitch dark room and complete silence that led both us parents to wake naturally at 7:25am, whilst our boys were still fast asleep (6am is the norm). For this reason alone, LHK deserves a gold star in our book, the rooms were the most comfortable we’ve slept in. Perhaps it was the fresh jungle air as well…
But once the boys finally woke, what we all absolutely appreciated was all the vast, open space on our doorstep to just be free…
How to keep the kids entertained
So you’ve hopefully got the impression that it’s a place to relax, to get away from it all and generally chill out. You might be wondering how that works with children; won’t they get bored in a place so remote and relaxed? The answer to that is a resounding no. Aside from the enjoyment of running around and taking in the fresh air, we also filled our time with:
Swimming in the Waterfall – a 45 minute hike (for our 2 and 3 year old, shorter for older kids) along a path through the jungle leads you to a fantastic private waterfall. It was easily one of the highlights of our entire trip to Sri Lanka. It’s not the easiest of hikes with two small children and we probably found it at the very upper end of our capability levels but, my oh my, was it worth the effort. Scrambling over the last few boulders to be greeted by the roar of that stunning waterfall is a memory we’ll never forget. We found a couple of comfy rocks, splashed around, took turns showering under the falls, had a pebble throwing competition and generally appreciated the magic of the location. It’s all within the resort’s boundaries so you’ll have the place to yourselves. We advise wearing sturdy closed-toe shoes and long trousers for the hike (there are a few leeches, particularly in the rainy season), pack some light-weight towels, water and snacks, and some reef-sandles for the kids to wear in the water. Mr Carrim also provides you with a mobile phone to call ahead with your lunch order when you’re on your way back! This is the life.
Marshmallows on the campfire – the crackling sound of burning logs greeted us as we descended from the dining area down to the lawn after dinner. Mr Carrim had a roaring campfire going, plus a dozen tasty marshmallows. Under a clear star-filled night sky we huddled together and toasted the marshmallows with the boys – such a happy memory which the boys adored.
Croquet on the lawn – it’s such a chilled out place that croquet seems to fit perfectly. The little ones might not know the rules but that doesn’t stop the fun.
Looking for animals – being in the wilderness provides the opportunity to find so many animals. The boys found monkeys, frogs, geckos and even a couple of cows to meet.
Swimming in the incredible infinity pool – there are so many luxurious touches at LHK, things that you would only get to experience in other parts of the world if you paid ten-times the amount, but the best of the bunch must be the infinity pool overlooking the rice paddies and rolling hills. The kids might not notice the incredible setting though as they jump, splash and dive their way around the shallow end. If there are more perfect family experiences than this in the world, we’re yet to find them. Bliss.
As you’d expect, the food at LHK is of an equally high standard to the rest of the resort. We had the best Sri Lankan food of our trip on the first night, followed by the best chicken and mashed potato since leaving the UK on night two. There were great choices for the boys as well; pancakes, fresh bread and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches and chips for lunch and pasta, followed by ice-cream, for dinner – all served in a magical outdoor dining area under the stars.
So would we recommend LHK to other families?
You can probably guess the answer. So much of family travel is about hectic fun that it pays sometimes to slow down a moment and take a breath. Many boutique resorts are often focused at romantic honeymooners, but LHK is that rare thing – a beautiful, luxurious resort which welcomes families and, more importantly, understands them and their needs. Whether it’s the marshmallows or the infinity pool, the kid-friendly food or the lovely Mr Carrim (who the kids were still asking for a week later), we were made to feel so welcome and had the best family time we can remember. Pay them a visit as well, treat yourself and we’re sure you’ll leave with the same incredible memories.
Find out more and book online at koslanda.com. We suggest staying at least three nights.
There are quite a few options for reaching the resort, depending on where you’re coming from and what your budget is. Private AC taxis can be arranged from Colombo (or indeed anywhere), you can drive straight from Ella (a popular tourist town about an hour up the road), or (as we did) take the breathtakingly scenic train journey from Ella to Haputale (one hour, Rs160) and then take a tuk-tuk (Rs2000, 50 minutes) down to the resort.
Disclaimer: Living Heritage Koslanda kindly hosted our two night stay. However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences.