Old bonds, new brands

Monday, 4 September 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Corporate wisdom dictates that you don’t mix business with pleasure and that you keep your personal and private lives separate, but the team behind the lifestyle company Cantaloupe & Co. take pleasure in flying in the face of conventional wisdom. Doing what each one loves best is what defines happiness for each of the founding partners.

Founded in 2009 as a lifestyle and design company with an emphasis on events and leisure, the group has evolved and grown organically in the last eight years. From wanting to design other people’s places, they ended up designing their own place; and from wanting to manage other hotels, they are now managing their own. Today, Cantaloupe & Co. is identified as a design related, aesthetics-driven lifestyle company. The Cantaloupe team demonstrates a passion that is reflected in its brand creations which easily distinguish themselves for their exclusivity.

Their professional journey began as event organisers renting out beaches and throwing exclusive parties in line with European trends, invitation to which became highly prized. In time, they evolved into Cantaloupe Hotels, a leisure arm which owns and operates two hotels in the south of the country - Cantaloupe Aqua and Cantaloupe Levels in Thalpe and Rumasalla respectively. 

Soon after, they opened their culinary dream, Clique Cuisine, which stayed on as the number one restaurant in Colombo on Trip Advisor for nine months on the trot in the year 2015. It offered a Supper Club Concept lifestyle for corporate professionals, which still remains one-of-a-kind in Sri Lanka. At a point in Clique’s journey, the partners pulled the plug, as they felt the need to realign their focus and strengthening their foundations in hospitality.  But the eureka moment for the company occurred over the three-year sabbatical they took from launching any new project thereafter, using this time to regroup and reassess dreams and priorities. The best learning happened during this period, as they were able to drill down into what they we really wanted to achieve in the future. 

A project in the making is new brand Cantaloupe Veralu Verala, the nine-chalet 18-room surf themed resort surf school and beach house in Midigama, Weligama, overlooking the world-rated surf point popularly known as the ‘Lazy Left’. 

Their travels along the south revealed the huge surf culture in the area, with many foreigners flying down only to enjoy the waves in the area. Unfortunately, very few locals could be seen surfing and this ignited a spark in their fertile minds – Why not develop surfing lifestyles amongst Sri Lankans? Their dream was that just as you see kids playing cricket on the streets, the next generation could take to surfing so that it becomes a cult in itself. 

This led to Cantaloupe Veralu Verala. The partners are collaborating with an Australian surfing expert so that international safety procedures are instilled in the surfing culture. They envision Veralu Verala becoming one of the beach cult destinations for locals and foreigners, with an added local twist. Their dream is to make the surfing culture mainstream so that people visit Veralu Verala to surf, not only as a sport, but as a lifestyle. 

The partners are enthused about opening their first branded and managed villa in Thalpe, which falls into the realm of contemporary architecture, the modern fresh side of Cantaloupe which is more differentiated on the most premium product offering. The company is simultaneously developing a prominent heritage building in the Fort area, currently under restoration, so as to position the property as Colombo’s most premium hotel in partnership with a global brand with a strong history and heritage in hospitality.

The Cantaloupe team has been a huge factor in its success so far and the management engages all levels of employees from gardeners upwards through training sessions workshops and viewing great service culture videos together so they too understand the corporate vision for Cantaloupe and make it their own.

The three-years of exposure and development has given birth to a labour of love, Botanik, which will showcase Cantaloupe & Co.’s new persona. Botanik will be a go-to destination for food and wine set amidst an eclectic design background on the rooftop of Fairway Colombo. They believe the time is right for Botanik, a rooftop bistro and bar, into which they have poured all their experience and knowledge and hope to open Botanik for business by September. Add a French sommelier/global restaurant expert and a Michelin star chef to the mix, and you have magic in the making. 

The location of Botanik in the country’s financial district is fitting, as the area is aesthetically a blend of contemporary and colonial architecture. Botanik will add grace to the area, where the financial district has been transformed into hub for recreation and nightlife after dark. 

Cantaloupe & Co. is about dreams that endure, friendships that last, and about the creation of timeless brands that become entrenched for posterity.