Iconic Heritance Kandalama celebrates 25 years of unique hospitality

Monday, 24 June 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Is it possible to build a five-star hotel with 152 rooms while causing minimal impact on the environment? The answer is a simple ‘yes’. A testament to this stands tall and proud amidst vivid greens in the Dambulla area, an architectural wonder, overlooking the eighth world wonder. 

Heritance Kandalama, a trendsetter in sustainable development and intelligent building and a pioneer of great many eco-initiatives celebrates 25 years of breaking barriers and lighting the path for a sustainable hospitality industry in Sri Lanka. 

Part of leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels, the journey has been an uphill climb. Starting from the refusal of the masses to allow a tourism opportunity to blossom in a hitherto unrealised location, the reward at 25 years since the opening of its doors have been colossal. 

Having served over millions of guests from around the world, opening their eyes to the wonderment of Sri Lankan culture, heritage and traditions along with the natural diversity the island is blessed with; Heritance Kandalama has created many an opportunity for the locals as well. Contributing to the development of the area, livelihood upliftment and establishing Dambulla as a tourism hotspot, the hotel is very much part of the community itself.

Today, Heritance Kandalama celebrates its achievements as a five-star deluxe property with 152 rooms, three dining outlets including a fine dining restaurant, wellness spa, three swimming pools and five event spaces for retreats, meetings and conferences.


Intelligent design 

Designed by renowned architect Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel resembles outspread wings of a bird, following the line of the cliff from which it seems to emerge. Sprawled flush across 1 km jungle-clad cliff-face, it rises up seven floors, yet appear as a perfect extension of the mountainside. 

Conceptualised to support the ecosystem, the flat roof and timber pillars support a screen of vegetation that attracts local wildlife. The raised platform also allows rain and spring water to flow freely from the mountainside and allow freedom of movement for wildlife underneath the hotel.

When at Kandalama, one can never ever miss the views. From wherever you stand at the hotel, the views weave stories of beauty at its purest. Among Bawa’s many design decisions was the ability to let the nature do its wonder. The open spaces allow light to filter in along with the natural breeze ensuing minimum usage of electricity. Elements from the locality and destination Sri Lanka is ingrained in the interiors creating a space of relaxation and wonder. 

Perhaps naming Kandalama one of Bawa’s very best masterpieces in hotel designs, as the world celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of the beloved architect, is an accurate summation for this astonishing belvedere at standing out precisely for its lack of prominence amidst the landscape. 

In 2001, the hotel received the LEED Bronze awards as the very first hotel in the world and the first building outside of the USA.


Sustainability at its core

Enhancing the eco-aesthetic design, the hotel has taken great care to introduce benchmark sustainability practices. It does not touch any of the water in Kandalama lake. Instead, it obtains water from deep tube wells in a sustainable manner. Wastewater is recycled and used for gardening.

A landmark initiative of Heritance Kandalama is the enriching the forest cover through reforestation and conservation. The hotel has created a conservational forest of over 200 acres including part of the 50 acres of land within the hotel premises and a dedicated forest conservation of 198 acres.

While its eco-practices are too many to list, Heritance Kandalama has created unique experiences for guests based on going green. It has its own Eco Park – a space for guests and visitors to learn about the flora and fauna in the area; along with key sustainability initiatives carried out by the hotel. The Eco Park consists of Plant Nursery, Recycling Plant, Elephant-dung Paper Recycling Plant and Learning Room (flora and fauna).

The Plant Nursery is home to a wide range of herbs and native plants, all grown with compost made and used by the hotel. Annually, the Nursery also gives out approx. 1,000 plants to neighbouring schools and for community projects in the area.

The Elephant-dung Paper Recycling Plant utilises waste generated by the hotel mixed with elephant excrement to create white recycled paper. These paper are in turn used for hotel purposes. Although the quantity is insufficient to cater to the demand of the hotel, the bulk is purchased from here. As part of the guest experiences, Heritance Kandalama also offers guests an opportunity to partake in the recycling process – a novel experience to a traveller.

Perhaps, the nature walk is among the most intriguing short treks in the area. The walk, taking the scenic route towards ‘Purana Gama’ (Old Village) where the villagers used to reside prior to the Government relocating them to their present location, is a treasure box of nature’s beauty and blessings. 

Here, one can discover, 82 of the 245 butterfly varieties endemic to Sri Lanka, of which nine are indigenous species of the 23 identified in Sri Lanka, 19 of the 120 varieties of dragonflies, 173 varieties of the 196 migrant and resident birds, of which nine are indigenous and 43 mammals.

Heritance Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia.


Built around community 

As a responsible tourism entity, the hotel started its journey by employing 80 locals from the area in 1993. While the risk was high on employing those with little to no experience in customer handling and hospitality, the Management of Aitken Spence Hotels trained and developed these individuals to be star members, most of whom work within the industry in varied parts of the world today. 

Maintaining livelihood development and empowerment, as at today 59% of the staff cadre are from within 30 km of radius from the hotel. The hotel also works closely with local suppliers in purchasing and entertainment to support the community. Majority of its CSR projects are also aimed at benefiting the community.


25 years of celebrations 

The five-star hotel will celebrate this milestone with the involvement of the management, staff and the community alike. The management will take this opportunity to honour the driving force behind the success story of the hotel, their team of dedicated staff. The hotel has also planned to host an inter-school volleyball tournament, series of awareness programs in schools and a medical camp for the neighbouring community. 

An overnight pirith ceremony will also be held in commemorating the milestone. A Facebook competition will also be carried out on the property Facebook page to award a lucky winner a memorable experience at the hotel.

For more details on Heritance Kandalama, log on to www.heritancehotels.com/kandalama.