For a quarter century, Sri Lanka was largely off-limits to tourists due to civil war, but recent years have witnessed a remarkable boom in luxury hotels. In such a market it takes a lot to stand out but, as the island’s only golf resort, Shangri-La’s first property here does a stellar job.
Located in former president Rajapaksa’s seat of Hambantota, on the unspoilt south coast, and set over 58 hectares, Shangri-La Hambantota is a vast, natural playground: stepping stones from the mirror-like infinity pool lead down to a windswept beach and the thundering Indian Ocean, while Yala and Udawalawe National Parks nearby teem with entrancing wildlife.
A well-heeled international crowd, including families who’ve heard the rumours of the hotel’s water slides, kids’ pool and trampoline trapeze (all in a separate section of the hotel).
No doubt, the 18-hole, Rodney Wright-designed golf course and new driving range. The golf carts have onboard cool boxes.
Head to the Chi Ayurveda spa, which overlooks a lagoon peppered with lily pads. Or take a cooking class at Bojunhala restaurant where plates such as fiery coconut sambol and banana-leaf baked lamprais – inspired by dishes from Sri Lankan hawker stalls. Bikes are available for day trips to nearby temples.
Beach luxe at its best: think secluded hanging seats and sky-blue sun loungers. The lobby is a grand, temple-like structure and huge bedrooms come with wicker beach bags.