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“5 star in former times”

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Heritance Kandalama
Ranked #2 of 16 Hotels in Dambulla
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 27, 2014 via mobile

We read so many 5 star reviews that point out on the extraordinary architecture, the great design, beautiful rooms and so on. Basically I think that either most of these excellent rating people either do not have experience with five star hotels OR reviews are written by Kandalama staff as many many reviewers origin from Sri Lanka (just coincidence?).

Pros:
- Nice location indeed overlooking a vast vally with the Sirigiya rock in the distance
- extensive dinner and breakfast buffet
- nice infinity pool
- environment friendly with sewer system and recycling

Cons:
- what is the great about Geoffery Bawa's architecture in particular? Buildings made of concrete that creates the charme of a parking garage with huge hallways? Maybe only Sri Lankan people can understand that, I don't!
- Balconys are nice to have however you can neither see anything due to plants nor can use them due to monkeys that will grab everything they can reach or even attack you.
- the hotel has three pools, one is unspecial and takes you about 20-30 minutes walking there just to find a small rectangle pool with a spiritless water ball net.. Ehm...? The other is 'nature based'... Nice but the water temp is so unpleasant at 21 degrees that you don't spend much time in it. The third one is in fact the only nice one with unpleasant cold water as well
- the mentioned distances are ridiculous. Just walking from your room to the reception is easily 10 minutes one way...
- rooms are worn and habe definitly seen better times

To sum up: The Kandalama might have once been a true 5 star hotel but is definitley not anymore. Thus, the hype about it as vastly exaggerated. I would say it is something in between 3* and 4*. Given this, the hotel is much overpriced. Compare it to the Mahaweli Reach near Kandy and you see a definitley better cost return ratio. Don't get me wrong, I am complaining on a high level. But that us what the Kandalama wants to be. A high level 5* hotel. It is definitley not to international standards. In other reviews I read comparisons to the Overlook hotel feeling in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and to evil James Bond villain hide-aways. Both is somehow true! Go there, pay 200 USD and more per night and judge yourself... But do yourself a favour and do not book for more than one or two nights and if you really, really, really (and I mean REALLY) like it, extend your stay on the fly...

Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Beni77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,924 - 1,930 of 3,670 reviews

Reviewed February 26, 2014

I caught a tuk tuk from the centre of Dambulla to come here for dinner (600Rs) and was expecting a little more than I found. The reception area gave the sense of a grand hotel but a long corridor to a fairly soulless bar left me initially disappointed. I was able to sit outside and have a beer (600Rs) which overlooked the infinity pool and, in the daytime, views over the lake. It was a clear night and the sky was filled with stars, it was a lovely spot.

I had the restaurant buffet which offered every cuisine available, I had plenty, and everything I tried was delicious. But again, I wasn't wowed by how attractive the restaurant was. One more drink in the bar and I left for my hotel in Habarana (best part of an hours tuk tuk for 1,600Rs) slightly disappointed. I had been in grander hotels and expected more but the food was excellent.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled solo
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Thank snowy_ajw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2014

As we were descending from Sigiriya, I can's help but think of the wonderful lunch that I would soon have at this Geoffrey Bawa designed hotel. Although we only dined here, it was enough to feed the senses, The man is simply a genius. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by friendly staff who will walk you thru the hotel to the dining area.(The corridors remind me of the Dolder Grand in Zurich) although this Kandalama Hotel was built around huge rocks. Lunch was either buffet or served al a carte. We enjoyed the ffod & the view of a lake & chanced upon some kids on an elephant ride. Well worth a visit even just to grab a snack.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank angelfish22_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2014

We chose Kandalama Hotel as our honeymoon destination and it was truly amazing.. I loved the architechure of the hotel and how it integrates with the wild life and nature. How the trees , stones and the natural pools are incorporated into the design of the hotel is beatuful.
Apart from the lovely articheture, The service is wonderful. Staff is friendly and helpful. There was a friendly lifegaurd who went out of his way to click some amazing photos of us.
The food was very good and there was a wide array of choices in the buffet. We got full board and we felt it was too much... So if you are going just take half board ...
Will go back again !

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Lakshani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2014

Brilliant Hotel, situated in the meddle of Sri Lanka with the view of Sigiriya as a backdrop! The hotel was excellent, 5 star and lived up to it! Fabulous views over the jungle with live monkeys running along the balcony, take a Jacuzzi with monkeys looking in! Built in the rocks, this hotel is amazing, staff could not serve you any better, polite and friendly, nothing is too much trouble, a few more nights here would have been even better!

Room Tip: Higher rooms are better for spectacular views!
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank DottyHorsham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2014 via mobile

Another beautiful places to visit when in Sri Lanka. The food was amazing the service was amazing. Beautiful hotel sand views. Must visit again as it's has the most breath taking views from the hotel. The food wasn't part of the package we got but the food definitely is worth every penny!

  • Stayed: February 2014
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Thank SHTM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2014

After all the rave reviews, I think its only fair to inject some balance into the representation of this hotel.

The best part was absolutely the architecture. The Bawa concept and myriad Bawa details were a constant delight. The backdrop of the beautiful lake and nature preserve were stunning. It is difficult to overstate the pleasure of the experience of soaking up such a unique and wonderful place.

The hotel itself is run very professionally, but after so many lovely experiences in Sri Lanka at smaller, boutique hotels it was a bit sad to find oneself again in a large, corporate, 5 star hotel environment.

There were a huge number of guests staying at the hotel, which meant the dinner buffet and the breakfast buffet were a mad scramble.

There were quite a few families with children, so don't expect to have the pool to yourself much.

And the reception area was always packed with people coming and going and staff running to and fro, which made it less than relaxing.

For architecture buffs or for those the like large, corporate hotels, this is a good spot. For others, your (fairly large amount of) money may be better spent elsewhere.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Carla G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Heritance Kandalama

Address: | PO Box 11, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Dambulla
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Dambulla
#1 Romantic Hotel in Dambulla
#1 Spa Hotel in Dambulla
#2 Luxury Hotel in Dambulla
Price Range: $151 - $482 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Heritance Kandalama 5*
Number of rooms: 152
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Heritance Kandalama is shaped like the outspread wings of a bird, following the line of the cliff from which it seems to emerge. The hotel is a staggering 1km from end to end, and rises up seven floors, yet appears to be a perfectly natural extension of the mountainside. The flat roof and timber pillars support a screen of vegetation that attracts local wildlife. The abundance of real-life animals around the hotel is complemented by wonderful large-scale sculptures within it. A metal owl is suspended outside the main restaurant; wooden elephants inhabit the lounge; a stone cobra uncoils along the terrace overlooking the infinity pool. However, while focusing on highlighting its enchanting natural surroundings, our luxury resort in Sri Lanka gives priority to providing its guests with the finest comforts and service. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kandalama Hotel Sri Lanka
Hotel Heritance Kandalama
Heritance Kandalama Dambulla
Kandalama Hotel Dambulla

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