St Andrew’s : The haven in the hills
Like any other road in Nuwara Eliya, St. Andrew's Drive too is a narrow stretch to the flower garden of the city, which won all top three awards last April Season Flower competition.
St Andrew' Hotel bagged 'Best Flower Garden', 'Best Fence Hedge' and 'Best Lawn' awards conducted by the Nuwara Eliya MC.
The old structure of the hotel was built nearly 116 years ago and 24 new rooms were added into the hotel in 1992 making the total rooms up to 52.
After the colonial masters, who used this 'house' as a Scots Club and later as a hotel, it came under Jetwing Hotel management in 1987.
'For five years, Jetwing kept its old world charm and later the demand made them to built new wing of 24 rooms. New main kitchen and popular show kitchen were also added by the present owners' said Wester Felthman, the General Manager of the Hotel.
Since taking over Jetwing has added many facilities and comforts, which make St. Andrew's number on in the hills.
Cable TV over thirty Channels, tea/coffee facilities, heating systems, mini bar and room services are some of the facilities available in all rooms
The most recent addition was HACCPT Certification for Food Safety System awarded by SLSI in February this year.
'This is the very first time that a Nuwara Eliya Hotel being awarded this Certificate. Since I joined the hotel in 2004, I was very keen on promoting St. Andrew's on two things. One is the hygienic standard of the food and the safety, which we achieved and the 'Green Directory' listing for sustainable tourism. 'Green Directory' listing is a must in all Jetwing chain hotels and apart from 5 S System we are in process of doing the final lap of 'Green Directory'. Most probably by end of January we will reach heights of 'Green Directory'' said Mr. Felthman.
St. Andrew's is also the only hotel in Nuwara Eliya to get the certification from the Municipal Council on Waste Management System.
The old world charm at St. Andrew's is nothing unusual. Bar and the billiard room with the table and the toilets are well over 100 years old and the remaining billiard table was manufactured in Calcutta by C. Lazarus and Company in 1889.
Apart from all factors, the hotel is popular for its culinary delights. 'Old Course' the main restaurant with show kitchen and the 'Walk' wine cellar with over 50 different labels.
'Cuisine is our top attraction. Around the globe is our motto and we prepared accordingly. Western and Eastern dishes, weekend bar-be que and special ala carte menu is popular among our clientele from around the world' said Jagath Egodage, the Restaurant Captain.
To keep with the traditional English meals, hotel Herbarium provides 16 varieties of English herbs to the kitchen.
'We have our own farm, which provides 60% of the hotel’s vegetable and fruits requirements. The organic food is our main concentration and in time to come we will be self sufficient in vegs and fruits' said GM.
According to Mr. Felthman Sri Lankan clientele leads the way to St. Andrew's Hotel with 34% and English visitors from UK are the next big holiday makers to the hotel. French German, Dutch, Belgian, Scandinavian and Asians fill the rest.
St. Andrew's is famous for its nature excursions guide by its resident naturalist M. Faris.
'There are many interesting places in and around the city to visit. Horton Plains, Sri Pada, Dambana Vaddha Village, Hakgala botanical Gardens and Arboretum tour, Water falls tours and a visit to a tea factory and estate are some of the popular excursions we offer from two to ten hour durations' Faris said.
Also trails and treks such as Leopard Rock Trail, Cloud Forest Trail, World's End trail and jungle trekking and camping , wind surfing in Lake Gregory, mountain climbing hits the top favourit list of nature lovers.
'Some of these trails are very popular with Sri Lankans and Whitewater Rafting, Leopard trail and Jungle trekking are favourites of overseas travellers' he added.
Apart from tour packages, Nuwara Eliya is only a one or two day's stopover place for round trips. It should be a destination itself and there are so many things to do in Nuwara Eliya spending three or more nights.
'All we want is to promote Nuwara Eliya as a destination. Then only we get elevated as the best nature resort in the hills' Wester said.