Vil Uyana ‘ New water garden in Sigiriya

Story and pictures by Sanath Weerasuriya

The tourism industry in Sri Lanka has weathered many storms and hazards since its heyday in the seventies.

Jala Mandapa

But it has developed and reached its present sophisticated level, after much hardship. Despite all the troubles in the country, tourists never stopped coming in. We only saw a drop in arrivals. And at the height of the war in the 80's and 90's travellers came to Arugam Bay and to the East coast.

Tourism should grow under any circumstances and more rooms should be added to the present setup to cope with the arrivals.

Luxury room with plunge pool

Jetwing has lived up to its vision and come out with an innovative project after the tsunami.

Vil Uyana, the latest hospitality project of Jetwing Hotels, located in the vicinity of Sigiriya Rock, is now almost complete and ready for the coming Winter Season.

Vil Uyana integrates into an ancient plan - a plan to irrigate, in the tradition of the Sinhala kings.

The hotel is the first in the world to construct a wetland system with lakes and reed beds to form a private nature reserve. This has made possible, for the first time in Sri Lanka, the building of rooms over water or paddy fields.

Jala Mandapa (Water pavilions), Vel Mandapa (Marsh pavilions) and Vana Aavasa (Forest dwellings) are the three main sections of the hotel. When the final product is ready by August this year, the rooms will be raised above the newly created lake, flourishing paddy field and jungle.

Newly created wetland on the abandoned agricultural land within the Dry Zone, provides this unique backdrop for this exciting new property. The design of the buildings are inspired by local and rural traditions. A private nature reserve provides a haven for wildlife and a setting of peace and tranquility. Centred around the bodies of water are parklands and woodlands, designed for leisure. These are an extension of the ancient practice of planning gardens for pleasure.

'A challenge has been met by, the conversion of Dry Zone chena lands formed by slash and burn agriculture, into a seasonal wetland (land that is inundated by water for part of the year). The colonization of the new habitats by local fauna and flora has been accelerated by the planting of reed beds and groves of trees' said Hiran Cooray, the MD of Jetwing Hotels.

Five acres of land was used to re-grow paddy using traditional methods of farming and harvesting, providing a new and exciting feature. Rooms have been placed within the paddy fields, thereby giving the guest the unique opportunity to participate in both the farming and harvesting if they wish.

The regeneration of the forested groves creates a feeling of ultimate privacy and seclusion in the Vana Aavasa (Forest dwellings), the largest of the rooms.
'The tastefully designed rooms boast space as its hallmark of luxury.

Dine in the privacy of guest room or 'under the stars' or simply relax and pamper yourself at the Island Spa with a range of treatments to choose from' he said.

The many components of the ecosystem will be subjected to continuous monitoring. The hotel is unique in building a research facility from its inception.
Comfortable accommodation will be provided to local and international researchers, overcoming one of the key logistical hurdles to fieldwork.

The research centre also has a library, a room for laboratory based work and a computer room.

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