Perched high up in the mountains on a former tea plantation, you’ll find Santani, a sleek wellness resort that seems far removed from the hectic pace and congestion of Kandy, even though it’s really only about 30 km away. A stay at Santani feels like you’ve been plucked out of the rowdiness and gently placed in a soothing cradle of hilltops where you can switch off, relax, and let yourself recharge.
When planning our time in Kandy, rather than staying in the centre of the city, we wanted to explore a place that allowed us to embrace the natural beauty of this part of Sri Lanka. We had had our fill of “bright lights, big city” time whilst in Colombo and the areas surrounding Kandy were just far too stunning to pass up.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Santani Wellness since it opened and we were drawn to its remote location as well as its focus on mindfulness, wellness, and sustainability. The luxury retreat stemmed from the desire to have a place that would counteract the buildup of daily stresses.
Santani’s design is modern and minimalistic, with a mix of glass, wood, and metals, and neutral colours throughout. The main building is like a glass cube with floor to ceiling windows encapsulating the structure on both levels, allowing the sunlight to stream in over the course of the day and giving you unbridled access to the greenery surrounding the property. It is at once light, airy, tranquil, sophisticated, and modern.
“Colour stimulates so with Thisara [the architect], we decided that nature comes first and then we could [come up with] a design that blended with the outdoors. The aesthetics blend with the land.” – Vickum Nawagamuwage, co-founder and owner.
Nestled within 48 acres of glorious greenery, there are 16 standalone double-occupancy rooms, or ‘ambalamas’ (a Sri Lankan word meaning “place of rest”), plus two double bedroom villas (great if you’re travelling with friends or family) scattered throughout the property.
The open-air structures have been built on stilts to protect the ground below, all facing out towards the hilltops to provide you with stunning views. You’ll get fresh air through the open gaps between the walls and cool concrete floors and you can always step out onto the balcony to drink up the vista.
The layout and design are simple and perfect, reminding you that very little is needed to truly unwind and relax.
You’ll enjoy a wholesome and flavourful menu on the upper floor of the main building, surrounded with an almost 360 degree view of the hills. Chef Wajira, whose career includes 16 years in France and 10 years as Corporate Chef at Resplendent Ceylon, learned about Ayurvedic benefits to create a menu that aligns perfectly with the wellness programmes at Santani.
The menu, consisting of a lot of local produce, is based on Ayurvedic principles and customised around your Dosha, whether you are a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. My 7-course dinner was absolutely delectable, maintaining a delicate balance between the food and flavors without leaving me feeling stuffed after the third course.
Level of exigency
Despite its simplicity, Santani Wellness is, without a doubt, a luxury retreat. Don’t be fooled by the lack of glitzy interiors or the clutter-free layout of the dwellings. The staff is exceptional and their main concern is to ensure you feel 100% at home and well taken care of, going above and beyond to do so. All of the staff were extremely gracious and I was greeted with smiles wherever I went.
This is where to come if you simply need to get away from the outside world. The privacy of the ambalamas, combined with moments like watching the morning mist lift off the hilltops or sitting outside with nothing but the quiet sounds of the breeze and birds, makes for the idyllic wellness retreat in today’s fast-paced, 24/7 world.
Santani provides a place for indulging in the biggest luxury of all-time.
Stay from January 31st to February 1st, 2017 – Sponsored media visit.
Santani Wellness Resort & Spa – Book
00013 Sri Lanka