My partner and I arrived at the Avani for a 13 night stay after a week touring around Sri Lanka. Our final tour hotel was a tea factory and we had to travel for 8 hours to get the the Avani and so arrived very tired and hungry. When we eventually got there, none of the restaurants were serving food and we were told we would have to wait for about 4 hours before any food would be available !!! However a quick explanation to the catering manager (Donald) and we were immediately offered the menu to choose an out of hours meal.
We totally enjoyed our all inclusive (AI) stay here, it was a relaxing time in a very relaxing atmosphere with excellent staff. We travel a lot and visit somewhere different every year, so this review is based on comparisons made with our other travels.
Things that weren't so great:
1. A very strange AI package where all drinks have to be signed for.....not had this before and seemed very strange.
2. Donald, the catering manager was great, but was constantly "on the sell". The hotel has theme nights, ie, BBQ night, Cultural Night, Fish Food night etc etc, these are normally outside with food and entertainment and offered out to guests for approx 2500 RS not on AI, but what we found surprising and slightly annoying was AI guests were also asked to pay! Although at a reduced rate (approx 2500 RS) .....don't really understand why AI guests should have to pay extra for these nights.
3. We were in a superior lagoon view room which was chic and modern, but was very small. We had seen other review pictures and looked on line, but none of these pictures looked like our room. So much so, that we had to double check with reception we were actually in a superior room. It was functional and comfortable, but this must be one of the smallest 4 star rooms we've ever stayed in with nowhere to sit apart from the bed.
4. Another Strange AI rule is that the drinks menu is a completely separate menu to other guests. The drinks are (as normal) local drinks which were pretty poor in comparison. Most AI guests appeared to be having to drink "off menu" to get a decent drink.
5. Pool boys and pool area was the normal fight for seats, normally starting at 0700 with people starting to reserve beds. I was normally in the pool swimming for 0700 and saw the 'mad rush' most mornings. However what did annoy us was that the pool boys were blatantly taking money to reserve guests beds. I was even asked to move beds one morning as my towel for swimming was on a bed that had been "reserved" by a guest who was obviously not there. The management say that pool boys don't take tips for this, but this is blatantly happening......this is not a tip, this is a bribe !!!!!! And VERY annoying!
A wedding party was there whilst we were there who "reserved" 10 beds per day in the best area around the pool, most not even turning up until lunchtime and some not even turning up at all. The pool boys have their own stash of equipment ie books, magazines, flip flops etc to put on the beds for these guests. I know it happens, but guests are causing this by funding this and the management should be doing something about this.
6. The pool bar has staff that serve the guests around the pool, although there are not enough staff and the service is almost none existent and you would probably be better off getting your own drink. (Unless Thilak was on duty, who was excellent).
7. The room boys, as stated previously in other reviews are very 'tip happy' and are always double checking the room was tidy, which on somedays it wasn't !
8. The service in the restaurant depends on the staff you get, if you get the right staff it's outstanding, if you get the wrong staff prepare to be disappointed.
Having whinged about the bad, here is the very good:
1. The food is outstanding, we enjoyed EVERY meal, for 13 days, 3 meals a day.....that takes some doing, so WELL done the Avani chefs. The food was varied and great.
2. The staff are VERY friendly and you can expect to be saying "hello" and answering questions about your day to almost every staff member you walk past.
3. The staff are ALWAYS cleaning and always working. We used the gym at 0600 each morning and the staff were out sweeping the approach road etc even then, they appear to be constantly cleaning and constantly working.
4. The hotel has a sensible dress policy for dinner with a "hotel chic" dress policy which is basically anything you like and it was nice to be able to go to dinner in dress shorts and tea shirts instead on being told to wear trousers and shirts.
5. Special mention to Lalith ,Thilak,Rumesh in the bars and Monaj and Rohan in dining room who were EXCELLENT and deserve special praise for the amount of work they put in.
Traveller / guest info:
The Plug sockets are a mixture of Sri Lankan (3 pin round), UK (3 pin square) and shaver type (2 pin).... So you don't need a converter plug. We always take a small 4 bar extension anyway but this was not needed.
TV in room excellent sony flat screen which shows inbox messages from reception, any bills you have, weather forecast etc.
Wifi throughout hotel is good and even wifi by the pool if your sad enough.
The Beach boys don't bother you ....they do shout across the first few days when they know you are new but a simple "no thanks" is enough.
Best pool area for all day sun is long strip on hotel side not sea side.....if your not there at 7 you stand a chance of not getting one.
Take a train trip to Galle on your own, no need to organise, it's about 300-400 RS each way to the train station in a Tuk-Tuk and only 120 RS per person return (second class) on the train which is approx 2 hours. It's a nice place with the fort and plenty of tourist type shops and is worth the experience of going on the train. The hotel reception has train timings. The Sri Lankan people are probably the one of the most friendly nationals we have had the pleasure to visit.
Some reviews have talked about the mosque and the train on the lagoon side disturbing their sleep. I am a very light sleeper and neither bothered me at all. They can be heard if you listen hard enough but they should certainly not disturb your sleep.
All in all, this is a lovely hotel in a lovely setting and we enjoyed our stay here. We won't be going back to the Avani, (purely as we like to go to different areas each holiday) but would have no problem recommending it to anyone. Thank you Avani Kalutara.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Breathe in that fresh sea air and feel the warmth of the sun against your skin. Before you, lies the ocean; behind you, the Kalu Ganga river, twisting almost 100 miles back to Sri Pada, the sacred mountain believed to be the footprint of the Buddha. Where the river meets the ocean, you'll find AVANI Kalutara Resort, and discover a place where your dreams of an island paradise come true.. This hotel was formely known as Kani Lanka Resort & Spa. Skim the white waves of the Indian Ocean on board a traditional fishing boat, or watch the sunlight glitter on the water as you kayak along the riverside... it's almost like you're paddling through diamonds. Later, draw close to the warmth of the beach-side fire and share stories of another incredible day. Savour every bite of that juicy fresh seafood and enjoy a sunset that's beautiful beyond belief... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- AVANI Kalutara Resort Sri Lanka