By Lucas Raven
An island strife with history, Sri Lanka is now the place for luxury in Southeast Asia, with picturesque locations made for capturing stunning Instagram photos, and creating stories worth telling. We ventured off the beaten track to experience the best the country has to offer.
Enter, Resplendent’s Ceylon Tea Trails at Hatton’s Camellia Hills. Something truly unique to this country are the dreamy tea plantations, dramatically rolling hills at the foot of small mountains, covered in endless tea leaf crops. Camellia Hills sits above the Castlereigh Reservoir in the heart of one of the many Ceylon tea plantations. A sprawling tea estate in Hill Country dotted with luxurious tea-planter bungalows with spacious rooms reminiscent of colonial times, both architecture and interior, and offer stunning views of the valley.
Visiting Ceylon Tea Trails is like stepping back in time, with butler service, afternoon tea and lawn croquet juxtaposed with infinity pools and a long list of activities to choose from. Yes, they pick the menu’s vegetables straight from their own garden – each dish deserves to be called ‘fresh’. Perhaps the most memorable of this sensuous journey, the smell of tea in the air that speaks of countless stories.
The five bungalows of Ceylon Tea Trails are scattered among the emerald hillsides of Sri Lanka´s Golden Valley of tea, Bogawantalawa. Around a five-hour drive from Colombo and two hours from Kandy, it is set in the cool, verdant hills so loved by the British during the colonial era. Absolutely peaceful, honeymoon-worthy with a small and charming local village you can visit. The idea is to disconnect and lose yourself in time while enjoying the pristine scenery. Hiking, biking and boat trips are offered in the surrounding area, alongside day excursions to tourist highlights such as Sri Lanka’s highest town, Nuwara Eliya, two hours away.
Breakfast on the veranda and cocktails in the library. At sundown the chef talks you through his tantalising four-course menu of contemporary Western cuisine or traditional Sri Lankan fare, with homegrown vegetables and herbs from the surrounding estates’ gardens. The tea menu is extensive, the flavours are exquisite. Here, serving tea is a science. Loose leaf and brewed at the perfect temperature for the perfect amount of time. Served in fine china. Sip and relax, and yes, repeat.
From sunrise, the vivid green landscape comes alive with bright pops of colour from the tea pickers clothes. Trek the plantations or take a mountain bike and join them rhythmically picking only the tips - “two leaves and one bud” to be exact. It was a whimsical experience, I have to admit. The lounge is a delight of dark wood and deep red with a warming log fire. Black and white pictures of Sri Lanka and tea plantations adorn the walls and there is even a billiards room for evening games. Step out onto the veranda with awe-inspiring lake and valley views, while the four suites – and stand-alone Owner’s Cottage – will make you feel like the guest of honour of a very well-to-do friend.
Ceylon Tea Trails offers Sri Lankan hospitality at its absolute best. Each bungalow has a butler and executive chef who will take care of your every need, discussing the day’s menu and activities available over breakfast. Personal, intimate, tasteful. Hands down, a 10 out of 10.
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