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30th August 1998

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Riverina offers the old and the new

The Riverina Hotel in BeruwelaThe Riverina Hotel in Beruwela, combines a world of tradition and culture with modern comforts.

Lined with tall trees, the entrance to the hotel is a welcoming sight after the traffic of the main road while the garden is a lush retreat, reminding one of a paradise island, with coconut trees and bright blossoms enclosing one in a spacious glade. For tired travellers, the calm and relaxing earthy tones of the lobby provide an ideal place to sip a fruit drink and take in the view.

The coffee shop, which opens out on to the lobby, has a seating capacity of 40. It offers an a la carte menu.

Bi-weekly promotions such as sea food dinners and fine dining are a guaranteed feature of the coffee shop. As one climbs the stairs to the main restaurant on the first floor, intricate black and white murals of various trees greet the eye. Both here and in the coffee shop, one is greeted by hostesses dressed in the traditional "redde and hatte."

If one prefers a little privacy, canopied booths can be chosen at the front of the restaurant. For peace and quiet, the terrace above the restaurant is a good option. The Sunday buffet, is a regular feature, as is the welcome cocktail on Wednesday to greet guests who have arrived at the hotel throughout the week. For children who might seek more exciting fare, a kid's menu will soon be introduced, with temptingly named items such as Ha Ha Hari Hawa's Surprise.

The restaurant opens out on to the pool side, and one wall is dominated by brown tile art, which portrays traditional folklore. The Lounge bar is designed to accommodate 125 guests. For those who prefer some action, a live band plays there two nights a week, and organists etc., entertain the guests the rest of the week.

Around the bar hang wooden replicas of the "puhul gediya", which lends a Sri Lankan ambience to the area. The pool side is often the action centre of the cultural evenings and monthly carnivals that take place. For those interested in traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts, a variety of such items can be bought from the batik, lace making, wood carving and many other stalls that are available at the carnival.

Konditorei, the fast food outlet is frequented by those relaxing at the pool side. A colourful mural depicting a sea bed livens up the restaurant, and is appropriate, as the restaurant and the beach are separated only by a twig fence.

At the "Adam and Eve" book shop, guests have the choice of items from books, to postcards, shorts and tee shirts, deodorants, snacks and handicrafts

For those interested in sea sports, the hotel offers a shuttle service to Confifi Marina in Bentota, where one can hire out water sports equipment.

The entertainment centre offers games such as carrom, draughts, table tennis, chess, etc.all free of charge, except for the billiard and snooker tables. Adjoining, is the salon and the Ayurvedic shop, a new addition.

The Mini Club which caters to those under 10 years, is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, with a qualified baby sitter in charge. It offers a daily programme of play and fun activities for children. The gymnasium has the latest fitness equipment, complete with instruction boards about training, and is manned by a qualified trainer The Sauna and Massage room, set in a secluded corner of the garden, and surrounded with shrubs is another favourite with the guests. From Rs. 100 to 750, you can treat yourself to anything from a Sauna, to a herbal oil massage with 30 different herbs, which lasts 45 minutes.

The wedding services the hotel offers have helped make many couples' dreams come true.

Three different packages give you the choice, for example, of hiring out the traditional wedding clothes, the choice of "jayamangala gatha" or Kandyan dancers. The discotheque is open three nights a week for those who prefer to dance the night away. The Cyber Centre offers the use of internet and e-mail facilities for Rs. 250 an hour. Of the hotel's 192 rooms, 14 are family rooms, along with the Presidential, Chairman's and Royal suites. The rooms have a view of the pool side or the sea side.

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