Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bentota Weekend at the Taj Vivanta

We decided to go for the weekend to Bentota because we were told that it was only an hour and a half hour drive from Colombo. We left at 5pm on Friday, during Sri Lanka's National Day weekend, without realizing that because everyone wanted to go some where for the long weekend, the travel time could easily be doubled.

It was already dark when we arrived at Bentota. The guest relations manager at the Taj Bentota kept on calling to check if we were already on our way. It turns out he prepared something to welcome us.
Welcome performance

We were also given a welcome drink and lei upon entering the hotel.
Flowers from the lei
Me wearing the lei

I was able to breathe a sign of relief when I saw that the hotel was nice. It's quite a big pressure to take care of the arrangements for a big group because they have a tendency to complain about every little thing.

There is an oil burner as you enter which I've been told has some religious significance
The lobby has a high wooden ceiling

We arranged for everyone to have sea facing rooms.
When I entered my room, I was wondering where the bed was.
It was hidden right behind the wall.
The bedroom side
The bathroom was clean, but it pretty much transports you back to the 60s!
(before I was even born!)
They also put flowers every where.
It must be a Taj thing.
Though the soap here is sugar, not butter.
Yet another welcome platter of fruit and wine
It was only after comparing notes with everyone did I discover that I was given a bigger room and the welcome treats because I arranged everything, but since I was nice, I shared.

View from my balcony which I assumed to be the beach.

The hotel has four restaurants. A Chinese one which we did not want to have while on holiday, the main hotel restaurant where breakfast is served, Sea View Fine Dining restaurant and an outdoor Seafood Restaurant called The Shack. We opted to go for The Shack because it seemed more relaxing, and so we could also eat outdoors overlooking the sea.

At The Shack you choose the seafood you want, and they grill it for you.
They had lobster and other stuff

They serve everything with Smelly Soup, Salad and the main course comes with a nice Risotto and Vegetables. What they forget to tell you is that you're lucky if you get served in an hour. Though that seems to be true for all the places we ordered from in Bentota. Must be the relaxed resort vibe. If I were to compare, the food service pales in comparison to Amangalla, which I wrote about here. I don't think price is an issue though, because even while rooms at the Taj Bentota are half the price compared to Amangalla, the food at the Taj Bentota is probably a good 50-100% more expensive if you benchmark including the quality and serving size.

I ordered king prawns and calamari 
My food was okay compared to the food of others. However, they don't tell you that they just drizzle the sauce to decorate your plate. I'm not really a seafood loving person. I only like it when it comes drenched in anything butter, garlic or lemon. I asked for more sauce but it came after I finished eating because for some reason they had to cook more sauce for me!!!

A simple seafood dinner of fish, prawns, and calamari (not the Lobster or Crab level seafood) at The Shack with (non-alcoholic) drinks costs around 3500LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) per person. (Php1,300 or SG$38) 

After dinner, we did some exploring.
They had a pool  table which can be seen from behind this

They also had a jewelry store that was open late. It was the best local jewelry shop I've ever seen. The quality and size of the pieces reminded me of H. Stern in Brazil. No kidding. The price was actually more expensive than H. Stern in Brazil! But as I can go on and on and on about jewels, this deserves its own post!
Jewels. Really nice jewels.

It was only the next morning that I really got to appreciate my room.
All the curtains open up to either a sea view or a garden view.
This is the same tree I took a picture of from the balcony the night before.
I was pleasantly surprised to find I had a second balcony

The second balcony was on the bedroom side of the room. This one had two lounge beds facing the garden, but as the balcony was slanted, I had an excellent view of the beach when lying here. It was perfect!

I kept on waking up early, so I had time to explore the beach, the pool, and I even had time to make a video before going for breakfast.

Red Flag = Risky to Swim
At first I thought they were brave for swimming

The waves were really strong. It was only when I saw a lot of people swimming in the afternoon that I realized that red flag was just a warning. It did not mean swimming was not allowed. In fact, the hotel even had lifeguards for the beach.

Local Surf Shop
Using the light blue filter
The other side of this is also part of the Taj Bentota
Walking in this direction will lead you to the other beach front hotels
Using an orange filter
There was a 'fleet' of DHANUSHA Marine boats parked on the beach
This one is called Piona.
Yellow + Blue = Green Filter
I think it would be nice to just sit here and watch the sea.
The birds had the same idea.

The beach shot in vivid mode.
The beach in vivid + yellow filter = sort of yellow green
Me on the beach with the strong waves in the background
Notice anything new in this picture? :)
Me in vivid with the shadow of the camera and my arm on my face
Boy building a sand castle
If Sofia were with me she'd say
"Mom, can you please pick up the shell for me, I don't want my hands to get dirty"
The Pool at the Taj Bentota
I was again pleasantly surprised when the picture of the pool was exactly like the picture in the websites. I was not really sure what to expect because my first lesson on travelling in India was to expect only 60% of what I see in the websites, and since Bentota was a village in Sri Lanka and the Taj is an India hotel, I wasn't sure if the rule also applied. Hahaha. I'm so glad it didn't!

Sun loungers beside the pool but facing the sea
View from my lounge chair in vivid
In color accent Sky Blue
Sunbathing with the pool behind me
also in color accent sky blue

If you're in Sri Lanka, and you find yourself looking for a nice weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the capital, Bentota is a good option because it's near enough and very accessible, the water in the beach is clear, the sand is fine and the resorts are nice. The water in the beach at Unawatuna, in Galle (which I wrote about here), is bluer though. Just Saying.

The Vivanta by Taj Bentota

is at National Holiday Resort, Bentota,
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +94 34 555 5555
You can call them or visit their website here.

There are also some places of interest that you can visit nearby, but I'll save that for another time.

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