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Reviewed October 19, 2011

The gem shop in this hotel is brill, we stayed there for 5 nights following a tour and the gem shop had just wanted I wanted at half the price of that in Kandy. I selected a great stone which they made into a bangle in two days. The owner and his wife are just lovely. They even emailed to ensure we were happy a few weeks after our return ot the UK.

I would highly rate this shop and hotel, wicked time, wicked people x

Room Tip: Sea view rooms up high
  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank vicki b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2011

My wife and I returned to this lovely hotel for the second time expecting the best in service, food, facilities and accommodation - we were not disappointed. The staff, from the manager down,without exception, are the hotel's most valuable asset and nothing is ever too much trouble for them. The service they readily provide is first class and it is always accompanied by genuine smiles. One finds it difficult to fault any aspect of this hotel , its facilities and service and I certainly do not intend to nit-pick. It was a great pleasure to return here for the second time and upon a very sad departure after a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable fortnight's holiday, the memsahib and I are seriously considering a return visit to the Mermaid hotel in the not too distant future.

CITY OF GEMS - Jewellers Shop - is situated opposite the Reception area of the Mermaid Hotel. The Proprietor Gihani and her husband Ravi were extremely friendly, patient and courteous when dealing with our large and complex order; my wife and I found them to be honest and totally trustworthy - we felt quite comfortable and at positive that they would complete our order to our satisfaction. They did not disappoint in any way.
Gihani and Ravi are a very personable, courteous and extremely knowledgeable young couple who know their trade inside out - they provide genuine quality and give outstanding value for money. A visit to their shop which is within the hotel grounds, is an absolute must.

TUK TUK driver - Sanjeera, a helpful and courteous young family man, can be found just outside the hotel's main gate. He can be completely trusted to provide safe transportation and value for money.

I commend the Mermaid Hotel without exception.

Room Tip: Next time I visit I will use the executive suites - quality facilities reasonably priced and good value.
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled with family
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10  Thank RoyalArk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
myfacebook, Sales & Marketing Manager at Hotel Mermaid & Club, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2011

We thank the reviewer for selecting Mermaid Hotel & Club for their second stay.

Thank you for sharing your holiday experience at Mermaid Hotel & Club and the excellent comment made about the hotel in every aspect.

We are delighted to hear about the special comments made about our team.

Thank you for making such favorable comments.

We look forward to seeing you and your wife in the near future.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2011

This hotel cannot be faulted on anything apart from the packed lunch and breakfast if you are going on a trip. They are a waste of time and food is so cheap in the restaurants it is just as well to eat there. Our children had better food in their lunchboxes, The staff were extremely friendly and could not do enough for you. We were on an all inclusive holiday and the food was very good but perhaps a little samey after 10 days. The rooms were kept very clean and indeed everything was spotless and well maintained. We were with Mercury but we never got to see the Rep once when we were there. If you go on any excursions do not use the reps they are very expensive. We did a two day trip and a one day trip with Suresh one oif the beach boys we were introduced to in an air conditioned mini bus everything paid for except drinks in your hotel and he is licensed by the Sri Lankan Tourist Board as a tour guide. Information as follows:

Email: suresh.pushpakumara@yahoo.com or

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Sri Lanka is the place to go if you want unspoilt beaches and you like chipmunks, they are everywhere. A Sri Lankan asked us what do you think iof Sri Lanka we replied chaotic paradise and she agreed. .

Room Tip: All rooms were good but the ones on the ground floor were better,
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank pumjpkin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
myfacebook, Sales & Marketing Manager at Hotel Mermaid & Club, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2011

We thank the reviewer for sharing their holiday experience at Mermaid Hotel & Club and the excellent comments made about the hotel.

We are delighted to hear about the special comments made about our food and very specially about our staff. We noted the reviewers comment about the repetition of food after 10 days and we will keep our Chef informed.

Thank you for making such favorable comments.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2011

We find most reports of this hotel to be accurate.
Rooms are basic but both they & surroundings are kept clean.
Beach boys patrol the perimeter beach fence but do not be put off.
They instantly identify newcomers and are initially keen to befriend you in order that they
supply your requirements throughout your stay but once you ‘sign up’ with any one of them
they will not unduly hassle you for the remainder of your holiday.
Although I believe they can be trusted be aware that although friendly, they are obviously
out to make as much as they can. Don’t rush into offers and ask around to compare.
We booked a couple of tours with Suresh who appears to be the local ‘Richard Branson’ & has
a few guys working for him. We took a 2 day trip with him to the elephant orphanage, Kandy,
tea factory, plantations etc. The overnight hotel was perfectly acceptable & I consider we got good value for what we paid. Prices are negotiable & appear to be based on numbers. Suresh accompanies his trips himself but be aware that he receives a commission from the retail outlets he takes you to. Shop around
& products will be cheaper elsewhere. Big discounts can be negotiated from the outlets you visit. Never pay the asking price. Halve them & start from there. Walk away if they won’t play ball. You’ll be amazed at some of their final offers. Many fine carvings can be had. We recommend Ranjith on the beach.
Come out of the hotel onto the beach, turn left and his shop is approx 15 mins walk & situated on the beach itself. He & his family are tsunami survivors & had to rebuild the business after being wiped out.
He makes his products himself (traditional wax method of dyeing sarongs etc) & appears to be worthy of
business. His loan to refinance the business will be repaid in 2 years he was telling us & the family appeared to be working hard to ensure it’s paid off. His prices are much less than others we compared with.
We were not entirely satisfied with the hotel food. Although not averse to curries ourselves, on a daily basis they are too much. The vast majority of the buffet selection is spicy in one way or another (all meats, lamb, pork, beef etc are cooked in spicy sauces) & on several occasions, anyone who prefers bland food only would have struggled to find anything to their taste. There is a good selection of fresh fruit & desserts. Stock up on a traditional English breakfast.
Guys outside the main gate wait to take you to the local town Kalutara in their 3 wheelers (Tuc-Tucs).
They charge around 800 rupees. Suresh on the beach will happily transport you in his brand new machine (with St. George flag seats) at a fraction of the price (we paid 200 rupees) & will accompany you around town if required at no extra charge..
Evening entertainment at the hotel is basic (organists/ traditional bands etc). No other local entertainment is to be found. Beware of ‘temperance’ or no alcohol days. One such day whilst we were there saw no alcohol in the downstairs bar but was still being served upstairs in the restaurant which we found strange.
There is no Wi-Fi in the hotel.
Electrical sockets are UK 3 pin type so no need for adaptors.
Transfer time from Colombo airport is approx 2 1/2 hours (the airport is way North of the city but a new road is under construction which will reduce the time significantly).
We were surprised at the lack of nuisance by insects & apart from a couple of bites had no problems at all. Take usual precautions however with repellent etc.
I bought a jacket & shirt from Malinky tailors directly opposite the main gate. I was satisfied with them
(after a couple of minor alterations). Again, haggle. I managed 20% discount. Afterwards, we were told of another tailor just along from Malinky who is apparently cheaper. Customers were satisfied with his quality also.
Swimming in the sea is not ideal. When we were there (Sept), the red flag flew every day and the waves were strong. The beach is fine but no shade.
I would not recommend driving there. They make ‘Wacky Races’ look like a cortege.
In summary, I would say that we had an enjoyable holiday with good weather, in a third world country, hotel acceptable for a nice quiet break. Travel around to see the sites. Plantation country North of Kandy is particularly scenic. Beach boys can be trusted but negotiate prices.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Billericaydickie_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
myfacebook, Sales & Marketing Manager at Hotel Mermaid & Club, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2011

We thank the reviewer for sharing their holiday experience at Mermaid Hotel & Club and the comments made about the hotel.

A few reviewers have commented that our rooms are basic; this is mainly because the rooms at Mermaid are quite different as compared to other hotels. The design and décor of our rooms are a Sri Lankan classical theme . The furniture is made of exotic teak wood highlighting its rich woodgrains and shades of brown to complement the hand woven green and purple colored cotton fabrics. Many hotels use painted furniture to enhance its look, but cannot show the woodgrains as they are generally cheaper wood used for mass production. The blend of color schemes in your bedroom has been carefully selected to create a soothing ambiance. The rooms are equipped with facilities that any five star resort hotel would offer in Sri Lanka; a TV, CD/Radio player, Hair Dryer, Mini Fridge, Safe, Tea/coffee making facility, A/C, W/C with Shower and toiletries.

We have noted the reviewers comments about the entertainment and this will be taken up with the General Manager.

Thank you for your comments.

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Reviewed October 5, 2011

We arrived at the Mermaid in the afternoon, having travelled from another hotel where we had stayed for the previous week. Our initial impression was of disappointment, not helped by the stark and uninviting reception area.

After that, we grew used to the hotel but and were comfortable but I would describe it as standard 3* package accommodation. The food in the restaurant was mostly fine but we tend to eat later in the evening and found that if dishes were emptied they were not always replenished. The majority of the staff members are very helpful but being told that I could not sit at a certain table at breakfast, because, it transpired, it was ‘reserved’ for other guests, did not go down too well with me. Always plenty of sunbeds available, even if you’d been out in the morning you could come back to a variety to choose from. Our (standard) room was perfectly fine and the bathroom looked like it had been refurbed, no bath but a lovely walk-in shower. What I did notice, however, was that we heard no noise from the corridor or the adjoining rooms, a nice change.

There is a number of flowering frangipani trees around the grounds, it’s lovely to be able to smell their beautiful fragrance. Not here, however, they pick the flowers every day to put on the beds at night, quite a shame when the flower just ends up in the bin.

It is such a pity that the hotel does not have a central tipping box. It’s impossible to reward everyone and people who deserve miss out as their rotas vary so much, a couple of waiters that we wanted to thank were not there the day before we left. Also, there are other people, like the gardeners, security and kitchen staff, who go unrecognised but contribute as much to your enjoyment as those you come into direct contact with.

I did visit Image Tailors, immediately to the right of the hotel as you come out of the gate. I had a pair of trousers (in a day) made and was so pleased that I had another 3 run-up. I thoroughly recommend them. I subsequently heard that this is the better tailor to use, there is a tailor opposite the hotel that is recommended by most of the beach boys as, allegedly, they receive 35% commission. Only what we were told and it didn’t originate from Image Tailors.

It sounds like I found fault with everything, I didn’t, I think I was just a bit spoilt by the hotel we’d left. I’m not precious about the star of the hotel, it wasn’t the most awful place I’ve stayed by a long chalk, but it wasn’t the best either. It was perfectly comfortable, the staff was great, and we didn’t go hungry. Everyone has their opinions, this one is mine.

A couple of scams that we experienced, though not directed at the hotel in any way:

• Walking out of the hotel to the left, we were approached by a guy who had just come out of a house a little way along the road. He said that he was one of the chefs at the hotel and had cooked us our special meal the night before. This trick is played in a number of countries but it could easily catch out an unsuspecting traveller. We just walked away but I regret not asking what was on the menu the previous evening, I doubt he’d have known!
• Another TA member had asked on the forum whether anyone was staying at the Mermaid at the same time – quite innocent and not uncommon to ask on the TA forums. I did reply but then received a PM from another member, purporting to be going at the same time and asking if we would consider joining them for trips. I’ve been on TA enough to recognise touts when I read their messages, if you state that you come from London then at least sound like you do!
• We wanted to buy some quality arrack. We went into Kalutara town but didn’t see anywhere. We gave up and decided to take a tuk-tuk back to the hotel but asked the driver if he knew where we could buy the arrack. He started to walk us along the road, while calling someone on his mobile phone. Another guy soon appeared who said that the driver didn’t speak much Engish so he would help. It wasn’t long before he started saying that today was a government holiday, marking some event or other. Another familiar con, so I lost my temper and walked off, chancing on the liquor store a couple of shops down. We asked for some mango arrack and were asked to come into the shop. To cut a long story short, we picked 4 half-bottles, they tried to add another and give me some inflated price. I removed it and said I didn’t want it, they adjusted the price, which was still far in excess of the cost of the four bottles. I contested the price again and we settled on something more akin to the correct price. However, when we got back to the hotel we found that we only had 3 bottles, at some point one of them had been removed, probably when they realised we weren’t going to pay the higher price. It only amounted to a loss of about £3, it’s just knowing you’ve been conned that galls.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank Mwingereza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
myfacebook, Sales & Marketing Manager at Hotel Mermaid & Club, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2011

We thank the reviewer for sharing their holiday experience at Mermaid Hotel & Club.

We noted that the reviewer’s previous stay was at a 5 star hotel and the review on Mermaid was somewhat influenced and based on a comparison made with the previous hotel. It is simply impossible to compare any 5 star hotel to a 3 star hotel as the products and concepts are completely different. The reviewer states that the Mermaid is a three star hotel, which is correct and we are sure that the reviewer booked the Mermaid knowing that it’s a three star.

We are pleased to note that the reviewer accepted the Mermaid and was able to have a pleasant and enjoyable stay.

Thank you for commending our staff.

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