Asia + The Middle East Sri Lanka golden beaches, cultural abundance, tea plantations, historic monuments Absurdly rich and fertile, Sri Lanka positively drips with abundance: its smells are those of fruit, spices, tea and coffee, flowers, perfume, and wonderful cooking. Its colours are the honey-gold of the beaches, the intense, almost luminous green of the plantations, and the purple-blue hills in the distance. Warm, open and relaxed, with none of India’s frenetic edge, its culture is a cocktail of Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim influences and its people are very sweet and gentle. In the past we struggled to recommend many places to stay when on a luxury holiday in Sri Lanka, but now the picture is very different: in the last two or three years, there has been a proliferation of small luxury hotels and gorgeous private villas that we have visited and found that we like very much. We also think that Sri Lanka offers excellent value for money. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Life in the Tea Country Destination Expert, Florence Evans, believes a trip to Sri Lanka is simply incomplete without a visit to the splendid Tea Country. She took a privately guided tour of the Rothschild Tea Factory, one of the oldest in Sri Lanka and had a fascinating opportunity to meet a tea worker who had followed in the footsteps of a family tradition. Find out more Don’t Skip Colombo – A walking tour of the city Many people skip past Colombo, however, when Amberley travelled to Sri Lanka, she really wanted to explore this bustling and interesting city. She took a privately guided walking tour with a local who took her to places that tourists very rarely get to see, including his own conservation projects. She found it an insightful and interesting experience. Find out more The Conservation of Native Sri Lankan Turtles Sri Lanka has incredibly diverse wildlife, and when Nick Brooks travelled there he wanted to find out more about conservation projects for the Sri Lankan turtles. Fast becoming a rare species, he spent a day at the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre which allowed him to see the processes that they have put in place to give the turtles a better chance of survival. Find out more The Elusive Leopard of Sri Lanka Louise Huntington took a research trip to Sri Lanka to explore as much as possible of this diverse country. One highlight of her trip was staying in the Yala National Park, where she was on the lookout for the elusive leopard. The camp provided the ideal base for game drives and exploring the park, and sleeping in the jungle in a tent all heightened the experience. Find out more The biggest Buddhist celebration of the year When Louise Huntington was in Kandy she was lucky enough to witness the biggest Buddhist celebration of the year - the festival of Kandy Perahera. With the help and commentary of a knowledgeable guide she was able to get the most out of this extraordinary experience. Find out more A LUXURY HOLIDAY WITH A DIFFERENCE Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for a Christmas holiday as Marina McWhirter writes about her amazing luxury holiday. Experiencing her first monsoon as well as staying in a villa on water and undertaking an elephant ride overall her and her family had an incredible experience. Find out more Struggling to catch my breath in Sri Lanka After her holiday to Sri Lanka, Gemma Gilles can't think of anywhere else in the world where she has ever experienced a more fantastic variety of sights and experiences. A 2am climb to Adams Peak was amongst her highlights and was worth every step to experience the breathtaking views from the summit in time for sunrise. Find out more THE PERFECT TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY TO SRI LANKA Sarah Peacock and her family travelled to Sri Lanka for twelve days. They found Sri Lanka uplifting, educational and full of beauty. They are already planning their return to visit to the East Coast of the island. Accompanied by their private driver and guide they experienced so many different things, have a read what they got up to... Find out more Show All Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. ULAGALLA Ulagalla is the place stay whilst exploring the Cultural Triangle. A rural gem nestled amongst 58 acres of cultivated Sri Lankan jungle, this ‘country estate’ offers exceptional local dishes, renowned eco-credentials and some of the most spacious rooms in the country. Artfully designed villas have been carefully located over the extensive grounds- most with their own plunge pool and all with great privacy and attention to detail. Find out more Amangalla, Galle Amangalla lies within the walls of the historic Galle Fort. It is a beautiful boutique hotel that combines Aman’s world famous style yet remains true to the old world feel of the buildings it occupies. It's been immaculately restored and really is Asia’s last word in colonial splendour. The gracious and welcoming staff ensure that you will have a wonderful stay luxurious surroundings. For the ultimate pampering experience we highly recommend having the sandalwood facial at the indulgent spa. Find out more Tea Trails Tea Trails comprises of luxurious colonial era tea planters' bungalows, with excellent service and a full afternoon tea, which is not be missed. Situated in Sri Lanka's hill country, with spectacular scenery and lush tea plantations offering walks, bike rides, rafting. Meeting locals and finding out insider knowledge from people who have lived in the area for many years can be a true highlight. We also recommend taking the train from Kandy for a wonderfully scenic journey through the plantations. Find out more The Wallawwa, Colombo The Wallawwa offers so much more than one might expect from an hotel near the airport, with delicious food and peaceful tropical gardens, this is the only place we recommend for a relaxing stopover. This boutique hotel provides colonial charm and exceptional service. The Wallawwa is it strategically located close to the Dambulla, Kandy and Galle highways and not far from the hustle and bustle of central Colombo making it easily accessible yet entirely secluded – a luxury private hideaway. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. The Ancient Cities of the Cultual Triangle The Ancient Cities in the Cultural Triangle are a must for those who are interested in Sri Lanka’s history, which dates back more than 2500 years. Excavations over the last 100 years have pushed back years of jungle encroachment and restored many interesting ancient sites. With our experienced private guides explore the ancient cities and their glorious remains that are temples, fortresses and statues. Find out more Exploring Galle Galle, the biggest city on the southern coast, is immensely popular for its Old Town, Dutch Fort and nearby beaches. Its location on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka puts it firmly on the trade route between the East and Europe, and each wave of settlers built their own churches and mansions. The fort was constructed by the Portuguese, which later fell to the Dutch and was finally occupied by the British. Find out more Yala National Park A trip to Yala is great for clients who are particularly keen to see some of the best wildlife in Sri Lanka and view its lagoons, rock outcrops and beaches, which offer a picturesque setting. It has a huge diversity of habitats and is home to wild elephant, crocodile, sloth bears, sambar dear and a variety of exotic bird species. The park also boasts one of the world's densest leopard populations. Find out more The Tea Plantations On a rather shallow ‘aesthetic’ level the endless hills of beautifully clipped tea bushes are like a topiary garden and dotted with workers in colourful saris, it is a lovely sight. On a deeper level, the tea industry is a mainstay of Sri Lanka's economy. Find out more Location We know Sri Lanka better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Sri Lanka Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Sri Lanka’s tropical climate can be confusing. Generally speaking, January to April and July to September are the most suitable times to travel as these are the driest months. Throughout the months of May and June you should expect some rain, particularly in the South West of the country. The monsoon season is October, November and often pushes a little into December. Sri Lanka is an all-year-round holiday destination. December to April is the best time for the South West of the island and May to September for the North East. To put it more simply, when the monsoon arrives in the South West, the East coast and Cultural Triangle are at their best and vice versa. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.