If you’re doing a tour of Sri Lanka, then Sigiyria and Dambulla’s temple just north of Kandy are sure to be on your list. Sigiyria is the ancient palace and fortress that is referred to as the Eight Wonder of the World by locals and Dambulla’s rock cave temple is one of the most holy places in the country. Jetwing Vil Uyana is a peaceful oasis, just 10 minutes drive from both. You’ll make the trip to the touristy attractions – and sure, they are spectacular – but it’s this hotel that you’ll tell all of your friends about when you get home.
Eco is the name of the game at Jetwing Vil Uyana – from animal conservation to recycled loo roll (don’t worry it still does the job). But it’s eco luxury – there’s an incredible wine cellar behind an beautiful old door in the middle of the hotel that really is worth a visit. Set in 28-acres, the hotel has been lovingly designed and built with a wetland system of lakes and reed beds to form a private nature reserve.
The wildlife really is the star of the show at this hotel. When you’re walking around the resort, you’ll often share a pathway with Monitor Lizards and above you, in the canopies of the trees, families of monkeys will be playing, watching you closely. Plus the peacocks. The peacocks are everywhere. Much like a cockerel on a farm, the peacocks jump on top of your house and cry out at dawn telling you that the new day has arrived. It’s magical.
In the reception, there’s even a chalk board where people note down the animals they’ve spotted that day and where – including crocodiles. Yep, the hotel has two live-in crocodiles that pop up every so often from the lake that surrounds the hotel.
You’ll feel a little like Dr Doolittle at the end – talking to the animals isn’t compulsory, but for some reason it just happens.
Whichever room you book, you’re in for a treat. The hotel is divided in to five sections – water, rice paddy field, forest, garden and marsh – and in each area the houses are inspired by the local surroundings and blend in seamlessly. You know those houses on stilts that every, single hotel in the Maldives has? Well imagine one of those above a rice paddy field, with your own plunge pool, sunbathing deck and a visiting peacock.
The rooms are all timbered structures with open bathrooms, rainfall showers and the biggest bathtubs you will ever set eyes on. Expect to while away much of your time in there.
Each room comes with a traditional sarong, sun hat and straw bag that you will instantly want to put into your suitcase for safe keeping.
They really want you to get to know your surroundings whilst visiting, so there are so many activities on offer that allow you to immerse yourself in nature. Things like wildlife tours (the nighttime tour with their on site naturalist to see the rare grey slender loris is a highlight) and the sunrise hot air balloon ride are hugely popular.
The communal area consists of a floating library – complete with nature books and binoculars – the pool, the bar, the restaurant and a tiny boutique. The restaurant is the only one on site, so if you tend to get claustrophobic this is something that you might want to consider when deciding how long to stay.
There’s a lake-side gym and spa that sit out on their own platform, across a small wooden bridge, where the resident Ayurvedic doctor performs his Ayurvedic treatments in the thatched open-sided pavilion..
The service can be quite sparse at times; you might find yourself opening up random doors in search of someone to order your next glass of rosé from. However, it really won’t dampen your stay, because it’s physically impossible to get stressed at Jetwing Vil Uyana.
Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya, 21120, Sri Lanka.
To book visit: www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingviluyana or call +94 662 286 000.
Doubles start from $590 (approx £450) on a bed and breakfast basis.