28th September 1997


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Where beauty beckons

A veil of natural greenery shrouds the entrance to "The Lodge" at Habarana and engulfs one in an embrace of calm and scenic beauty. Nature beckons you. Luscious trees, wide spaces, a paradise of birds, rippling lake, wild ponies, playful monkeys and the sound of the rushing wind clears the mind and a sense of calmness sets in. Surrounded by nature, "The Lodge" is for lovers, nature or otherwise.

"The Lodge" is a part of Keells Hotel Management Services and has been a favourite retreat of many who wish to escape the daily rigours of life and relax in an atmosphere of complete tranquility. Situated about 200km away from Colombo "The Lodge" was built 16 years ago, adjoining the ‘Village’ ( also owned by Keells) and was created to accomodate the heavy demand for rooms in the locality. The Lodge and Village , due to their central location are patronized by visitors to Anuradhapura , Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya as well as wildlife enthusiasts who venture into the surrounding jungles in search of elephants.

Now boasting 150 rooms this three- star hotel caters to a variety of tastes. Built to a well planned structure, accommodation comes in the form of chalets, group rooms and single rooms.

Built on 27 acres of scrub jungle the unique feature of The Lodge is that it’s rooms are in secluded cottages, tucked away among the lush green trees. The rooms have been elegantly designed to a different concept. A concrete foundation is the base on which the wooden bed is placed just two feet above the ground giving the impression of low slung Japanese style interiors. Yet again nature is emphasised. The walls are adorned with paintings of wild birds. Some features of the deluxe rooms are television and bathtub for those who want to relax in comfort in their rooms. One can also take in the breathtaking view spanning the lake and the jungle surroundings from the balcony.

A tour around the gardens takes one through tree lined paths, shaded by branches of huge trees. Bird watchers are in for a treat, with special pavilions built on trees for bird watching, but would also serve so many other purposes. It’s ideal to relax or be inspired to create poetry enjoying the timeless beauty of a Habarana sunset. The pavilions also provide a view of monkeys playing around, ponies strolling in the grasslands, villagers collecting drift wood and iguanas scuttling away into the underbush. For those adventurous enough try bathing in the lake as an alternative to the pool. In addition the hotel is in the process of building park benches for the elderly who are unable to climb upto the bird watching pavilion.

Many other attractions awaiting visitors are cycling, tennis, badminton, ,cricket , T.T, billiards and many other indoor sports. In addition to this there is a Kiddies Park and for the health conscious, a health centre which offers herbal massages and saunas. Cycling, tennis, billiards and the health centre facilities are provided at an additional cost. Something else that would attract the visitors would be the elephant safari which is recommended by the lodge, as the area is well known for jumbos who come out from the jungles at dusk.

This hotel has a common restaurant situated by the side of the pool, with an additional view of the lake. Meals are made all the more palatable by the atmosphere around. The speciality of this place is that on request one can enjoy a drink at the outdoor bar. Each new day brings about something exciting with daily changes in the menu to suit the tourist or local palate .

There are also many exciting events lined up for entertainment. The live Calypso band that plays on Sunday, solo music and magic show on Monday, snake show on Tuesday, oriental music and folk dances on Thursday and a special event- the fire limbo on Friday and the acrobats on Saturday which is the barbecue night are some of them. barbecues are done beside the pool with soft lights dancing upon the illuminated waters.

Added to this, the hotel offers conference facilities in the form of an open hall above the restaurant which could be considered a discotheque too.

The hotel also provides a child- friendly environment by entertaining the children with magic shows and videos while parents relax during their meals. Another unique feature is the Ehala Bar where nature is recreated in the form of live foliage integrated into the building itself.

In addition to all this splendour The Lodge has a farm which cultivates fruits for hotel use, a piggery and also sells plants. So if interested, one could request a visit to the farm which is within the premises.

Standard rooms are Rs.1500 per person plus 11% BTT and the deluxe rooms would cost additional Rs1100 for a couple. The prices of the group cottages could be negotiated.

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