(MENAFN - Colombo Gazette)
Once the main port of the island, Galle channelled a flourishing trade in luxury commodities such as metals, precious stones, ivory, livestock and spices. Since the island's colonisation by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, the city has been an integral part of Sri Lanka's modern history.
A living, breathing city of significant historical value, Galle greets visitors as the gateway to the south. Even through the rolling streams of time and change, Galle continues to preserve an atmosphere of the past, which is apparent in its most prominent feature and oldest landmark, Galle Fort, which was built by the Dutch more than 500 years ago and is currently an archaeological reserve that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Galle has also made a name internationally for being home to an International Cricket Stadium, as well as being a place that celebrates the arts and inspires new thinking. The Galle Literary Festival, held annually in late January, attracts authors from far and wide, as well as those with an appreciation for the written word.
Nestled on the golden sandy crescent in the south coast, only 10 minutes away from the magnificent Galle Fort is Amari Galle, Sri Lanka's very first Amari hotel. The hotel is located along the main Colombo-Galle Road with a travel time of two and a half hours from Sri Lanka's international airport in Colombo.
Originally from Thailand and expanding across Asia, Amari has a rich and long-standing heritage that celebrates the colours and rhythms of modern Asia, with each hotel highlighting the textures and flavours of its unique setting through architecture, design, cuisine and service.
Amari Galle's architecture and design is inspired by the natural beauty of the Galle coastline. A panoramic view of the ocean, the gentle sea breeze and the warm southern smiles of the Amari Galle team greet guests upon their arrival.
The lobby is inspired by the elements of earth, wind and fire intertwining to create a feeling of calm.
Mesmerising textures and patterns created with natural materials such as water, fire, plants and wood, form the backdrop to the lobby. Within this serene atmosphere, guests are welcomed by two signature sculptures that pay tribute to the beautiful coastline of Galle. A large, magnificent fixture resembling corals adorns one wall whilst another reminiscent of beach parasols adorns the opposite wall.
Vertical fins with wood finishing, marble floors and a subtle punch of colour stand side by side illuminated by soft lighting. Amari Galle consists of unique spaces designed with the elements of nature, refreshing the weary traveller and preparing them for a journey of fun and relaxation.
Sweet dreams are made of this
The essence of Galle is further captured through the hotel's beautifully appointed rooms and suites, all of which are fully equipped with modern amenities and private balconies overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Each of the 172 guestrooms and suites features spacious and light-filled interiors that capture the tranquillity of the coastline with soothing colour schemes to create a beach house feel. Rooms feature artwork that reflects the common sights of Amari Galle is also home to a 360 square-metre presidential suite, which was inspired by the concept of 'day meets night' with merging colour tones depicting the magical hues of dusk.
Commanding a breathtaking view from the top floor, this two-bedroom suite includes a dining area, a living room and a balcony terrace with private plunge pool.
Make a pit stop at Voyager Lounge
Located on the lobby level, Voyager Lounge is a warm and friendly space designed for informal gatherings.
This 24-hour facility is equipped with luggage-sized lockers and shower facilities, making it an ideal relaxation space for early arrivals or late departures. Inspired by the clouds that appear over the Galle horizon, the design of the lounge instils a homely sense of calmness with its comfortable seating, TV, free Wi-Fi, workstations and library. While relaxing in this cosy setting, guests may also enjoy a range of freshly baked items, sandwiches and cakes, together with a diverse selection of coffee and Ceylon tea.
A culinary journey at Ahara Gourmet Gallery
Inspired by the rich street food culture of the region, Ahara Gourmet Gallery is the signature market-style restaurant of Amari Galle where the feeling of togetherness merges with food and culture in an energetic setting. Live kitchens offer guests the opportunity to interact with the chefs and experience the vibrant flavours of Asian and international cuisines.
The exquisite menu consists of a wide selection of sharing dishes, because at Amari, experiences are better when enjoyed together. Ahara Gourmet Gallery is located
on the garden level and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Shoreline Beach Club: the seaside experience
Shoreline Beach Club offers guests the luxury of basking in the sun or shade either by the ocean or pool. The centrepiece is the bar, where guests can sample a variety of delicious snacks and cocktails under three intersecting canopies inspired by the Bodhi tree.
Bommu Rooftop Bar: let's drink to the views
As the day comes to a close, Bommu Rooftop Bar, named from the local expression, 'let's have a drink', is the ideal place to unwind and mingle.
The ambience of the bar is picturesque with the serene and everchanging ocean horizon as the backdrop. The bar serves a range of classic and innovative cocktails, and a diverse selection of international and locally inspired tapas and creative dishes to delight every palate.
Guests can comfortably sit back in the lounge chairs or have an intimate chat at the bar and sip away the night while being serenaded by a starry sky.
Recharge or unwind at Breeze Spa
Breeze Spa is designed to meet diverse needs, from lifelong spa devotees to newcomers to wellness and travellers simply looking to recharge or unwind. Breeze Spa's therapies are mood-based, so whether guests want to be rejuvenated, invigorated, energized or stay dreamy or serene, there is the right experience on offer.
Breeze Spa's signature treatment is the Galle Ceylon Retreat Package, a locally inspired therapeutic ritual infused with the country's iconic spices and herbs. Concocted specially for Amari Galle, this two-and-a-halfhour treatment begins with a full body tea leaf scrub infused with aromatic cinnamon and vanilla.
The exfoliating tea extract helps rejuvenate the skin and keep it soft and healthy. The experience continues with a relaxing massage that combines Thai and Ayurvedic techniques, followed by a refreshing facial to keep the face glowing.
Let's talk business
If work is part of one's stay, Amari Galle is fully equipped to handle various business events with a ballroom that can accommodate up to 250 people for seated dinners and three IDEA Rooms, which offer options for creative meetings.
The ballroom can be adapted to different requirements ranging from corporate functions and product launches to business cocktails. High-speed internet access, video conferencing facilities and the latest audiovisual equipment are available.
Say 'I do' the Amari way
Nuptials, be they intimate gatherings or grand receptions, are well catered to at Amari Galle. Walk down the aisle with the awe-inspiring backdrop of the colourful Galle sky and tranquil ocean or host an extravagant ceremony under the chandeliers and contemporary design of the ballroom.
From creating enticing menus to setting up stunning settings, Amari Galle's team of expert wedding planners will guide guests along the wonderful journey to their wedding day and ensure an unforgettable experience.
The FIT Centre is ideal for all fitness levels and is well-equipped with treadmills, cross-fit weight machines and free weights.
Kids' Club: little VIP's
At Amari Galle, children are welcomed with an Amari Kid's Passport, which invites them to interact with the hotel in a fresh and exciting way.
Children are encouraged to visit a minimum of seven checkpoints and take part in the daily fun activities to collect 'winners' stamps' on their passports, which will win them a scrumptious kids' meal of their choice.
A variety of supervised creative activities are held every day, including kids' karaoke sessions, movie evenings and art competitions for Amari Galle's little guests. Indoor and outdoor supervised play areas are available from 09:00 to 18:00 hrs. From arrival to departure, children are treated as VIPs at Amari Galle. Babysitting services are also available on request.
Destination Amari: Eat, Go, Shop, Play
To benefit from the total experience that is Galle, a visit to Galle Fort is recommended. One of the largest remaining forts in Asia, Galle Fort, was built by the Dutch during the colonial times. Walking the course of the fort walls is extremely pleasant, especially at dusk. Follow the walls clockwise and arrive at the Old Gate, which was built in 1669. The gate is lined by two lions and topped by a cockerel.
The National Maritime Museum, the Cultural Museum, The Dutch Period Museum, Groote Kerk (the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka), Flag Rock, the Bell Tower and the old Dutch Government House (allegedly haunted!) are also worth a visit.
For cricket fans who happen to be visiting at the right time, what is considered to be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world, Galle International Stadium, is only 10 minutes away.
Visit the house, now a museum, of renowned local author, Martin Wickramasinghe, who is fondly regarded as the father of modern Sinhala literature with books translated into several languages. For guests interested in architecture, visit Lunuganga, a country home set in a sprawling lakeside garden.
This home is one of the most famous works of Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned Sri Lankan architect, who was amongst the most influential Asian architects of his generation and the principal force behind what is known today globally as
If it is wildlife that peaks one's interest, a trek through the Sinharaja rainforest is highly recommended.
Within this lush forest, guests will be able to observe almost 50% of the country's endemic species, which include insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Journey to Hikkaduwa or Unawatuna, which are always buzzing with activity, and take full advantage of the ocean. Sign up for scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, kite surfing, fishing, boat riding, or dolphin and whale watching.
To learn more about where to go, shop, eat and play in Galle, guests can explore Destination Amari at destination.amari.com or connect with an Amari Host at the property to get an insider's guide to making the most of their stay in a city rich with culture and history.