Quiet and elegant, the new Anantara Kalutara Resort opened in mid-2017 on Sri Lankaâ€™s south-west coast. The distinct relaxed vibe across the resort makes it a perfect follow-on incentive or teambuilding destination for meetings in the capital city, just an hourâ€™s car ride away. And with a standalone convention centre on site, Anantara Kalutara Resort can very well stand out as a meetings hotel in its own right.
RoomÂ Anantara Kalutara Resort offers 141 rooms, suites and pool villas spread out generously along the banks of Kalu Ganga River, with some offering views of the garden, swimming pool, river or the Indian Ocean.
The varied mix of room categories allow event planners to offer a different accommodation experience to different participants in a group, under the same roof. I would imagine meeting delegates to take deluxe rooms, while invited speakers or VIP business partners would be housed in the more luxurious one-bedroom ocean view suites.
Having said that, the lead-in premier garden view room and deluxe rooms are all beautifully furnished themselves, and at 65m2 in size, promise the luxury of space that city folks appreciate.
I stayed in the 110m2 one-bedroom presidential pool suite. The spacious living and dining room leads out to a private plunge pool and sundeck, with the serene Kalu Ganga River flowing beyond. The second part of the suite houses the bedroom, furnished with a king-sized bed and a desk. The third part â€“ which is likely as large as the bedroom â€“ is the bathroom, an amazing space filled with an elevated bath against huge windows that look out to the river, double vanities and a rainshower.
Meeting facilitiesÂ Anantara Kalutara Resort boasts its own convention centre, a two-storey building that takes in a pillar-free ballroom for a 400-pax reception; Nelum meeting room for 20 to 50 people; Pichcha meeting room for up to 50 people and which can be combined with Nelum for larger gatherings; and Araliya boardroom for 12 people.
All these function rooms are outfitted with state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, and the ballroom comes with advanced mood lighting capability. The resortâ€™s welcoming interior design â€“ wood detailing, plush fabrics and warm colour palettes â€“ follow through the convention centre, making the venue a very comfortable place to meet and talk business.
The convention centre also boasts a wooden deck outdoors where casual social dining events can be held to break the monotony of solemn meetings.
Other facilitiesÂ One of Anantara Kalutara Resortâ€™s biggest selling points is its architecture. It is one of the final projects of the late master architect, Geoffrey Bawa, who advocated the concept of Tropical Modernism. His signature is most prominent in the main resort building â€“ the single massive, sloping roof held up by numerous slender pillars so that the interior and exterior flow as one seamlessly.
Anantara Kalutara Resortâ€™s connection with Bawa is emphasised through the Geoffrey Bawa Library, a space modelled on his personal study, where furnishings either designed or owned by him are put together to create a particularly Bawa-style interior. Resort guests can admire some of his sketches or simply hide away in this space and read their favourite book.
There are plenty of recreational options on property. For instance, Spice Spoons offers informative cooking classes that can be paired with a trip to the local market with a resort chef.
Anantara Kalutara Resort makes a great wellness retreat for corporate groups too, thanks to its resident ayurvedic specialist and yoga master who can craft programmes to reboot the shell and soul of meeting delegates and top incentive winners.
There is also the Anantara Spa, and the Water Sports Club gets active guests on a jet ski, banana boat, kayak, surf board and more.
There are plenty of dining options on property â€“ casual Olu for all-day dining; Acquolina Italian restaurant and bar that stretches the length of a lap pool; Spice Traders that specialises in Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines; and Upper Deck where sundowner cocktails and tapas are served.
ServiceÂ Resort staff are very friendly, often stopping to chat with guests and to check if all is fine.