We've just returned to cold and wet London from 2 weeks in wonderful Sri Lanka, but the positive UTMT vibes are still with us and will hopefully last on for a while. It's rare that a hotel stay can be considered a highlight of a trip - and the competition in Sri Lanka for memorable moments is tough - but in the case of UTMT we make a very happy exception.
I should add here that I work for a large global hotel chain and I'm passionate about hotels but equally critical about details and service delivery. Reading the rave reviews about UTMT from previous guests made me somewhat sceptical and curious to challenge the overly positive perceptions. We've stayed at its lovely sister hotel in Vienna before (Hollmann's Beletage), but couldn't quite imagine how the boutique concept with an Austrian twist would translate into a Sri Lankan beach setting. Well, it does really well!
If I would have to summarise the UTMT experience with one word, it is passion. The owner and creator Robert's passion for good design, quality, humour, and the wellbeing of his guests can be felt everywhere. There's a really consistent story and visual identity throughout UTMT, and the level of detail with which it is executed is simply astounding. We found out that all the fabrics, woodworks and even the bathtubs and sinks are handmade in the hotel's in-house workshop by local artisans from locally sourced materials. Our room (No 7) was very spacious and well laid out, but the private plunge pool with sea view was the real stunner. Who needs a TV, if you can have an on-site screening room with a retro popcorn machine?
Thankfully the passion for quality is not limited to visual impressions but extends to all the senses. We had some of our best meals in Sri Lanka at UTMT and were looking forward to every meal. The half board package was amazing and included 4 courses for breakfast and dinner. Along with the complimentary afternoon tea and water available throughout the day this is very generous.
What really sets UTMT apart from the other hotels and guesthouses we have experienced in Sri Lanka is the genuine friendliness of its staff. Everyone smiles, greets you and seems to have a good time, while keeping your wellbeing at heart. Our charming waiter Tarange 'adopted' us as his guests on the first evening and became our friend for the rest of our stay. Just one month after opening, things were already running pretty flawlessly and the occasional glitches were handled with a lot of charm.
Above all, UTMT doesn't feel like a hotel or a resort, but more like a feelgood commune. Robert and Petra want their guests to have a great time and encourage them to speak with each other, which just happens effortlessly. With just 20 rooms it's easy to get to know your neighbours and the communal tables at dinner are great ice breakers, but only if you want to.
All this leaves me with the weirdly gratifying conclusion that here's really not much to challenge about my predecessor's reviews. Okay, the water pressure in the shower could be stronger and the bottle opener for the custom made toiletries is a bit gimmicky, but did that stop us from having a fantastic time? I only regret having not experienced the new club house/tea lounge and yoga hut (both still under construction).
UTMT is barefoot luxury at its best at one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline of Sri Lanka. We miss it already and hope to return very soon!
- Also Known As:
- Underneath The Mango Tree Sri Lanka/Dikwella
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Time Out at the Sea. Hand made holidays in Sri Lanka. UTMT combines in itself a lot of things: a dedicated boutique hotel, a relaxing ayurveda retreat and an exciting beach resort. But above all it is: A charging device for your soul. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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