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“Nice place but ......”

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Ranweli Holiday Village
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Waikkal
Kent
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Nice place but ......”
Reviewed September 3, 2008

Location:Ranwelli is about 30 minutes from the airport which is a lot less than the resorts to the south of Columbo.
Ranwelli was very peaceful with sunsets over the sea. While we were there the wind from the south -west (slightly left as you looked out to sea) was almost constant, quite stormy on a couple of nights.
Staff; friendly and cheerful. On one occasion one of them did spend a very long time cleaning the room while we were on the terrace, but there was most definately no asking for tips or demands that you put their children through university as elsewhere on tripadvisor.
Rooms; large enough but filled with too much furniture, flowers on the bed each day, which you may have seen before.... There's no TV, kettle, hairdrier etc. We brought a kettle and rented a fridge at $5 per day which came to £37 for two weeks - a bit expensive but at least we could have cold drinks when we wanted.
Food; vegetarians were catered for but limited choice. The Sri Lankan food was excelent,but repetative. Their attempts at western dishes were interesting. The biggest problem was consistency - if we tried something one day and it was good and then had it 3 or 4 days later it could be terrible. Very early on we had a couple of whisky sour cocktails, the first time they were great but several times after they wern't. At breakfast they had sago; very nice, sweet with nuts and fruit. Second time, just lots of salt. The deserts were pretty tastless.
The Eco thing; we suspect this was mostly a marketing ploy. For example; the drinking water came in half litre bottles so over two weeks we used over 100 bottles we didn't know if the plastic was recycled or thrown away.
The guests; some English, some German/Austrian and some Sri Lankans so the place was not full of lobster coloured Brits. At the weekends and some other times there were a number of Sri Lankan weddings taking place. So there were couples, a suited groom with a loud shirt and the bride in bright red - accompanied by a photographer and video camera man. (Some where in Sri Lanka there is a couple with a picture by the Ranwelli pool with our Sainsbury's plastic bag-for-life in the background.) Some people have said that they found the weddings intrusive but we found it charming.
The bar claims to be open until midnight but in practice closes just after 11pm. Retutning late one evening we couldn't even get a bottle of water.

The hotel was a bit isolated, it is some distance from their car park & ferry to the main road, about 3km. The hotel 'recomended' taxis wanted 1,500 SLRs (about £7,50) for a return trip to Negombo and 1000 SLRs (£5) return to Waikkal. When we walked from the car park area we were able to get a tuk-tuk to Waikkal, one-way for 300 SLRs (£1.50).
Day trips/tours:
To visit Pinewalla and Kandy Kouni and Tradewinds wanted £160 for both of us.' Antony', just outside the hotel's car park and the hotel taxis wanted between £70 and £85.When we tried to ask about self-drive car hire they, our travel company rep and the hotel reception staff understandably shook thier heads and said they wouldn't advise it. Once in Negombo we went to the road with all the big hotels,Brown's Beach, Jetwing, Topaz Beach etc and asked in these and in the shops nearby advertising car and scooter rental. Eventually we found Sha Lanka (www.negombo-motor-cycle-tours.com). They rented us a small hatchback for 3,500 SLRs (£17.50) for 24 hours plus 500 SLRs (£2.50) for delivery and collection to Ranwelli. If we'd had it for longer the price would have dropped to 2,500 SLRs per day.(Suranga Perera, the owner will bellyache about how poor he is and how he can't afford to repair his wife's washing machine - it's just part of the haggling process !) Fuel, when we were there, cost 157 SLRs per litre (75 pence) which the locals thought was expensive. Fuel to Kandy and back cost us 2,000 (£10). So the whole trip cost us 6,000 SLRs about £30, less than half the cost of being driven. About driving; rent something bigger than we did, don't drive in the dark if you can possibly help it and take a good map. When asking for directions only ask for places within 10 km or so.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
10 Thank tinnfish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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east sussex
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2008

went over there for my son's wedding, what a marvellous place,the swimming pool was great, swimming in the indian ocean was good, though you need to be a good swimmer. the food wasalright but you obviously need to like spicey food, though the chefs will cook you something differant if you give them a days notice. the staff were friendly and nice.
in general a good place to go if you want a quiet and relaxing time. take something to do for the evenings as the entertainment is spasmodic.
the only down side ,is that you have to tip everybody, keep plenty of small notes.

  • Liked — overlooking the indian ocean
  • Disliked — hardly any hot water
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank downsman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burnley, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2008

Stayed here for the last couple of nights of our tour of Sri Lanka. It felt very commercialised compared to the other hotels that we had stayed at but was ok for a couple of days. The pool was fantastic and very quiet. The beach could have been beautiful but was unfortunately full of litter. The squirrels around the pool were very cheeky and always trying to steal food. The food was ok, much more mass produced than we had found at previous hotels. The room was fine but we didn't spend much time in it as we preferred to laze around the pool.

  • Liked — The pool
  • Disliked — The dirty beach
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank LancashireLass13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
37 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed July 1, 2008

We stayed at the Ranweli in June 08 before moving on to the maldives and Dubai. The hotel is quite basic, but of a good standard for the area. The best thing about staying in this hotel is having the ability to get away from the real Sri Lanka and go to one of the quietest places on earth.

This hotel is great for some, but I'm sure that others would find it a complete nightmare. I liked it because I could walk around the beach and the complex without getting hassled (which is a heaven sent in Sri lanka) and have great food and service in lovely surroundings. However you have to be able to keep yourself entertained, there really wasn't anything going on there and everything was deserted, no one on the beaches (you can't go anywhere her the sea, its so rough) and we came across maybe another 5-7 couples in the eateries? So lovely if you like having the place to yourself and getting away from it all. We stayed there for 3 nights and that was just nice for us...if we had stayed for over a week, I would have gone mental though.

The best advice that I could give anyone visiting this area of the world it to be prepared for plenty of downpours in June, awful road conditions which makes travelling very difficult and slow, but scenic and take 'loads' of low denomination notes for tipping, because the second that you hit the airport the tipping starts and it wont stop until the second you leave. We encountered a couple of people that didn't have much change and it must have cost them a fortune! We changed plenty of $1 notes and went through tonnes of them. Especially in the elephant orphanage where they shove bananas in you hands and then demand money and call you to touch/feed/ take a photo with the elephants then demand money for them and their friends that will be crowding around.

The hotel seemed like a nice oasis away from all of that. I would recommend this hotel, but only for those that can keep themselves occupied.

  • Liked — food and the tranquility
  • Disliked — not being close to other places and amenities as you would have been in a city location
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank bigtravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, UK
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed June 28, 2008

My husband and I have just spent a wonderful week at Ranweli on half board basis, booked directly through the hotel.

We were picked up from the airport by the hotel's representative who had to wait over an hour for us to get through innigration. On arrival at the hotel, you cross the canal on the ferry which takes a minute or so.

To check in all we had to fill in was our name, address, passport numbers and sign. We were shown to the bar for a welcome fruit juice and then shown to our bungalow which was about 100 ft from the sea.

The rooms are spacious and comfortable with big bathroom with open air shower (nets in place to stop unwanted visitors and debris). There is also a seating area inside and a veranda outside with deck chairs and sun loungers.

The beach is clean but the sea was not safe for swimming at this time of year. You are right on the beach, but the waves are crashing down, not gently lapping so be aware of this if you are a light sleeper.

Food was good even for a pair of vegans, there is a different theme each day (Italian, Chinese, Western, International, Flambe, Sri Lankan and BBQ) but there is always salad and curries available with varying levels of spice. Breakfast was also good, they had a good selection of fruit, cereal, breads and cooked items. Drinks were cheap as chips too - 100 (£0.45) Rupees for a coke, about around £2.20 for a wonderful cocktail.

There was only around 15 - 20 guests throughout the majority of our stay but i understand there is more food available when the hotel is busier (Sept-April).

The hotel operates a great eco policy with solar powered showers, recycling and growing organic vegetables behind the rooms and only having low impact sport facilities. It is hotel policy to change the sheets and towels daily, unless you place a card out to say you will keep the same ones longer.

While we were there, we went on the bird watching boat ride, the nature walk and unescorted bike ride. The boat ride lasts 3 hours and costs about £18 each, the walk was for 2 hours and about £8 each, ending with you picking food from the vegetable garden which the chef turns into a fabulous salad for you to eat in the vegetable garden - it was brilliant. Lastly hiring the bikes was about £4 for half day, but make sure you check the bikes before you leave - mine was stuck in a high gear and the back tyre a bit flat.

Lastly, the staff are brilliant - very polite, attentive but not invasive, even though we often found ourselves in the restaurant on our own with 10 staff to look after us!

All in all, a brilliant holiday at Ranweli and i would recommend it to anyone, but do look to book direct as its much cheaper than through an agent. When booking the room we requested trannsfers but didnt find out until we were leaving that these were free. Cannot fault the place!

  • Liked — Everything
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank Torianna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boat of Garten, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed March 11, 2008

We have just returned from a two week stay at Ranweli during which we celebrated our wedding anniversary & my birthday.
From the moment of our arrival to the time we regrettably had to leave we were treated with genuine warmth & friendliness by everyone at Ranweli.
If you are seeking peace & tranquility then this is the place for you.
The accomodation is in bungalows made & furnished with local materials & furnishings. Our bungalow was cleaned to a high standard every day & the flower arrangements on the bed, particularly on our arrival & anniversary were fantastic.
There was always a good selection of food in the restaurant & I particularly enjoyed the Singhalese curries.
We celebrated our anniversary with a surprise (for Sue) "ferry dinner". The ferry was decorated with flower garlands and oil lamps and we had a fabulous 5 course meal.
We enjoyed the bird watching trips & took the opportunity of hiring bikes from the resort so that we could explore the local area. Something I would recommend. It is a great way to make contact with the people & see their way of life up close.
We will take away such happy memories of our stay & look forward to returning again next year.

  • Liked — Everything
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Themadmajor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St Austell
Level 6 Contributor
32 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2008

We have stayed at Ranweli on three occasions now and will certainly return again and again. It is an ideal place to start or end your holiday, due to the short drive (approx 25 mins) from the airport.

You begin your stay with a short ferry punt across a river, which really puts you in the "desert island" mood. All the accommodation is in individual bungalows, built to resemble a Sri Lankan village and nearly all of them look out onto the sea, often only a few feet away. The rooms are clean and spacious and have air conditioning and a fan, but are not luxurious. If you want TV, fridge or tea/coffee making facilities, this is not the place for you, but who cares when you are in a place as beautiful as this? (Just take your own travel kettle for that early morning coffee sitting outside and staring at the sea and palm trees!) The beach is totally unspoilt, there are no touts and the sand is full of the most gorgeous tropical shells and lots of crabs. The sea shelves quickly and is often rough, so I would recommend the pool for swimming, which overlooks the beach and is a lovely, tranquil area with a little poolside bar. Everything about Ranweli is peaceful, even when the hotel is busy (but the current troubles in the country have seen things turn very quiet) and the eco feel of the place adds to its charm. We found the entertainment to be low key and you could take it or leave it. The Cultural Show was excellent, full of athletic and colourful Kandyan dancers. The magician was most sinister - we didn't like him at all! The musical entertainment varies in quality, some good, some not so great. There's tennis, squash, billiards, etc. on offer and you can go canoeing or cycling from Ranweli aswell. Look out for water monitors, water snakes and a huge variety of birdlife if you do a boat trip - we can highly recommend that, and also the cycling. Do a nature trail with the very informative Naturalist too, through the mangroves around Ranweli. There are plenty of trips on offer through the hotel, or with local entrepreneur Anthoney, who is totally reliable - he will find you, don't worry!

The food at Ranweli is excellent. They have a different theme every night, such as Sri Lankan, Chinese, Flambe, etc. It is imaginative and the choice is huge. We stayed on B & B to give us total flexibility and if you opt for the evening buffet, it cost us Rs1200 (under £6) which was better value than in other comparable hotels we stayed at.

The children loved the tame palm striped squirrels which would sit on their laps ... you aren't meant to feed them, but just try to resist them! There are also giant squirrels to be seen and lots of tame mynah birds - one wandered in our bedroom on a regular basis, oh, and little geckos, which are welcomed in the rooms because they eat any insects. Lovely little things. There isn't a risk of malaria at Ranweli, but you do risk getting bitten after dark by midges, so don't forget your insect repellent if you're prone to bites like me.

All in all, Ranweli is a fabulous place. If I had to criticise anything, it would be the laborious check-in procedure, which seems more complicated and long-winded than anywhere else we stayed and is particularly annoying and unnecessary when you have just arrived after a long flight. But even so, I'd return there tomorrow!

  • Liked — Peaceful, beautiful setting, not far from airport either
  • Disliked — Long and complicated check-in forms to fill out
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank SusieStAustell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ranweli Holiday Village

Property: Ranweli Holiday Village
Address: Ranweli Hotel Road, Waikkal 61110, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Waikkal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Waikkal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Ranweli Holiday Village 3*
Number of rooms: 88
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ranweli Holiday Village is an eco-friendly resort located on a 22-acre peninsula where mangrove forests and winding rivers converge to meet the sea. Located only 18 kms from Colombo's International Airport, Ranweli is the perfect base to explore the fascinating history, culture and nature of Sri Lanka. The hotel is on Waikkal Beach & provides bungalows & rooms with a private bathroom. The resort has an outdoor pool and its own restaurant & bar. Each bungalow / room is air-conditioned, has a safe, sitting area and telephone. The attached bathroom includes a hot/cold shower. Guests can enjoy a beach volleyball, billiards or table tennis at Ranweli. Water activities such as paddle boating, canoeing and kayaking are available. Ranweli is able to organize boat rides and bird watching tours. You can experience multi-cuisine dishes at the buffets of the resort's restaurant & a variety of liquor is served at the pool bar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ranweli Holiday Village Waikkal
Ranweli Holiday Village Hotel Waikkal

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