Chasing winter warmth? Discover Sri Lanka: Asia’s answer to the Caribbean without the price tag

Mixing luxury resorts, golden beaches, spectacular wildlife and, of course, the best tea in the world, Sri Lanka is your go-to holiday destination for winter sun…

Sunset Pool at Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa

Why go?

If you’re looking to visit a country where you can start the day spotting wild elephants and end sipping sundowners by a sunset pool Sri Lanka is for you. Tucked under the south-eastern tip of India, Sri Lanka is home to a population of 70% practicing Buddhists culminating in a country jam-packed full of amazing temples and ancient heritage sites.
Of course the climate, unspoilt beaches and welcoming people all play a part in making it the ultimate destination for those chasing winter warmth. But with a tourism industry that suffered major setbacks from its 20 year civil war, as well as devastation from the 2004 tsunami there are still some seriously good deals to be had staying in top hotels.

Stilted fishermen found all through Sri Lanka

When to go?

We suggest going to Sri Lanka for some winter sun. Forget the cliché trips to the Caribbean or wildly expensive Maldives, Sri Lanka offers a true taste of the east. Peak season is between December to March and if you want to avoid any tropical storms it’s best to stick to this. We visited in early December and the climate was perfect – it occasionally rained at night but cleared by the morning offering clear blue skies and a hot tropical and most enjoyable 32 degrees Celsius.

Deluxe Ocean View Room at the Shangri-La Colombo

Where to stay?

Sri Lanka is home to two Shangri-La’s; Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo and Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa. Both offer completely different experiences of the country. Although the capital city Colombo can often be overlooked make sure you stay at least two nights, ideally at the beginning of your trip.
At the heart of Colombo the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo offers a true taste of luxury. The truly epic lobby with the grandest chandelier in the shape of a water lily, Sri Lanka’s national flower, exports you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a world where no request is too much. With bespoke artwork throughout, high ceilings and the signature Shangri-La service the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo is pure opulence.
Next, head down to Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa for what can only be described as paradise. Set in 145 acres which used to be a coconut estate the resort is spacious, calming and will truly take your breath away. Home to three pools, two restaurants, one spa and an 18 hole golf course you won’t want to leave.

Make sure you also visit their CHI Ayurveda Spa for a heavenly treatment. They have everything on offer from foot massages to their signature full body Ayurvedic treatments.

What to eat?

You can’t go to Sri Lanka and not eat in Colombo’s Ministry of Crab (MoC). Housed in one of the capital’s most beautiful buildings, the old Dutch hospital MoC serves up the most succulent crab, gigantic garlic prawns and a chocolatey biscuity pudding to satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth.
Also make sure you try Sri Lanka’s world famous Hopper; a battered pancake, cradling everything from eggs to sweet treats and appropriate for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It sounds bizarre but is wonderful.

When it comes to the Sri Lanka curries, don’t be put off but remember to exercise caution when selecting one – only venture off Sri Lankan “mild” if you truly back yourself as a spice Queen.

Elephants at Uda Walawe National Park

While you’re there…

Sri Lanka is abundant in activities but here are three musts:

  1. Visited the Uda Walawe National Park… we managed to see wild elephants – an early start but well worth it.
  2. Try some authentic Sri Lankan tea… Herman’s Tea Plantation offers a free tour and tea tasting with opportunity to buy some of the best tea in the world. Take some home and any tea fans you know will be eternally grateful.
  3. Ride in a Tuk Tuk… Try the Tuk Tuk Safari in Colombo for fastest and most fun way to see the city’s sight.

Room rates at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo are from £135 per night, based on double occupancy and includes all taxes and fees. To book visit www.shangri-la.com/colombo/shangrila.

Room rates at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort and Spa are from £219 per night, based on double occupancy and includes all taxes and fees. To book visit www.shangri-la.com/hambantota/shangrila.

SriLankan Airlines flies daily to Colombo with fares starting from £500. Visit www.srilankan.com for more information.

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