Can a hotel change the way you view your life?
In August 2013 I decided to surprise my wife with a trip to Vienna to celebrate her 60th birthday. Thanks to Tripadvisor (of course) I stumbled upon an esoteric little hotel in Vienna called The Hollmann Beletage and we spent three wonderful days in one of the best run, friendliest and most enjoyable hotels we have ever stayed in… and we have stayed in HUNDREDS of hotels.
So, when we received an email from Vienna telling us they were opening their second hotel in SRI LANKA on Friday the 13th of December we had to go… and here we are!
I have only been here a day and I have already spent the most enjoyable month of my life!
The hotel is as close to paradise as this Scottish sinner will ever get.
Mies van der Rohe said that "God is in the details" in which case Herr Hollmann must be a "god" because his attention to detail is mesmerizing. We have had the pleasure of meeting him and he is not a "god" but a messianic, charismatic, ex-pastry chef turned actor turned holistic hotelier who has testicles the size of mangos which is probably where they got the name for the hotel.
His courage and his vision are to be admired for wanting to create a first class hotel experience - from all points of view - in a country that is not exactly renown for its efficacy of execution.
He - and a dynamic team of young Austrians and Sri Lankans - have created (or to be more accurate are creating) a hotel experience that goes way beyond any hotel experience we have ever had and as I mentioned earlier we have had HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of hotel experiences.
Peter, the young (very young - he is still an embryo) hotel manager told us he does not want you to feel at home, because you have worries and stresses at home, he says he wants you to feel like you have gone to stay with your grandma a place where every single one of your needs are catered for. He has achieved that. We are grandparents visiting their surrogate grandma.
I have never been the very first guest to check into a hotel - into Room 01, of course - I have never stayed at a hotel that is still a work in progress (although a lot of hotels that have been open for decades feels as though they are unfinished) but this efficient, friendly team of professional young Austrians with their "army" of adorable Sri Lankan staff have truly blessed our lives and shown us just how wonderful life can be far away from the stresses of our techno-rich-and-rush modern polluted lives.
We had planned to go on a whale watch, and a safari but I have already canceled everything as I do not want to leave the serenity of the hotel and I do not want to leave the warmth of the perpetual welcome.
The setting of the hotel, perched above the Indian Ocean with gigantic waves crashing against the rocks is both dramatic and calming. The ying and the yang. It is perfect. But there is a lot about this hotel that comes as close to "perfection" as mere mortals can achieve.
The water temperature in the enormous, infinity swimming pool is…. perfect.
The pineapples growing on the "roof" of the building adjacent to the pool is… perfect.
The blend of local materials and craftsmanship with modern European modern architecture is… perfect.
The blend of the talents of the superb Austrian head chef and her team of local Sri Lankan chefs managed to create between them a fusion of sophisticated curries that are…. perfect.
The blend of mango, gin, ginger ale and white Martini is… perfect. (And that is just one of the exquisite exotic drinks they conjure up every evening.)
The blend of fabrics in the room - and room is an insult to the magnificent suite of rooms we are living in - along with an egg-shaped bath carved from a block of local stone, is…. perfect.
My wife is a Belgian interior designer with great taste and an incessant eye for detail. The first ten minutes we spend in every hotel room she usually spends rearranging the furniture, not here! She was as over-whelmed as I was at the sheer beauty of our suite. I could easily spend the rest of my life here.
I could go on and on and on, but, I also realize that this experience is truly unique and is made even more special by the fact that we are the first guests in the hotel (along with a Swiss couple) and we are getting such wonderful attention and service it is like we have the hotel to ourselves.
BUT I DONT THINK THAT WILL CHANGE!
Based upon our experience in Vienna, I am sure thy will maintain the levels of dedication to ensuring you have a truly unforgettable experience.
I realize we cannot expect expect to swim alone in the pool when we come back (because we are coming back as soon as possible) as the pool chairs might be full of bellicose Germans with big bellies and gold chains smoking fat cigars but I am confident it will still be an enriching experience even with other guests.
If the "team" has missed one detail (yes, they are human) there should be some bug spray in the rooms. The design of the rooms is breath-taking in that they have combined a genuine indoor/outdoor living experience but all these open spaces means the insects can eat at will.
Finally, I hope Herr Hollmann realizes what he has created here in Dikwella.
He has enriched our jaded lives and we still have five days of our stay to come, but he has also enriched the lives of the local people he employs and the local people he does business with.
He has given these people hope.
He has given these people a true sense of worth.
He has given these people pride.
They are all so happy to work for him and this radiates NON STOP to the guests.
I am dreading leaving and will count the days and hours until we can come back.
So when your well has run dry and your soul needs replenishing… come to Dikwella, I promise you… you will not regret it!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Holiday Time Out. Handmade in Sri Lanka.Located in the very south of Sri Lanka, Underneath The Mango Tree happens to be a lot: a truly individually managed boutique hotel, a competent ayurvedic spa and an enjoyable beach hotel. But above all it is one thing: A charging device for your soul. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Orbitz and Agoda so you can book your UTMT Underneath the Mango Tree reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- UTMT Underneath The Mango Tree Sri Lanka/Dikwella