16 July 2012 marked the second anniversary of Ulagalla Resort – the landmark property of UGA Resorts Sri Lanka.
Surrounded by a pristine environment in an unspoilt wilderness, this splendid eco retreat, hidden away in the quiet village of Thirappane in the Anuradhapura District, lies in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and offers luxury and memorable moments to all who have the privilege of visiting it.
Ulagalla was the brainchild of Group Vice Chairman Harsha De Seram, who had the vision to restore the traditional ‘walawwa’ or grand ancestral home of local aristocracy to its former splendour, offering a glimpse of the traditions of a bygone era, while incorporating a green and sustainable concept – both in the development and operation of the resort.
The philosophy of preservation was also extended to protecting the environment during the building phase. Not a single tree was cut down, and all construction, in strict accordance with green policies, took place on already utilised land. In fact, over 1,000 root balled trees were planted on the property.
Ulagalla’s deep commitment to preserving the environment has earned it the Gold Medal at the prestigious National Green Awards 2011, honouring it as the most eco-friendly boutique resort in the hospitality sector in Sri Lanka.
Ulagalla is also a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified resort with a Silver rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Mainly green materials were used for construction, with the walls, floors and ceilings of each chalet being built with ‘Durra’ panels. Made from high-density compressed paddy straw fibre, Durra is fire and thermal resistant and 100% recyclable.
Several environmental practices are implemented such as rainwater harvesting, bio-gas powered lighting, non-motorised activities, farming organic produce and more. Ulagalla owns its own solar farm and generates 60% of its energy requirement through solar power, contributing excess energy to the National Grid.
The true eco concept would not be complete without passing down its benefits to the community. Ulagalla’s Responsible Tourism initiatives began with local recruitment and today 40% of its staff lives close to the property.
Other programs include medical camps, children’s education at local schools and property tours to educate them about the concepts sound environmental practices such as recycling, organic gardening and the use of solar energy, providing plants and financial aid to the community and purchasing their produce. The resort also gives tours to local school children.
Built on 58 lush acres bordering two ancient reservoirs, surrounded by unspoilt nature and tucked away in complete privacy, the resort offers 20 spacious and luxurious chalets, 19 standard and one suite, each with its own private plunge pool.
The chalets have a cosy bedroom, a luxurious bathroom with a rain shower, a separate living room and a dining area. All units come with modern amenities including a 42” LCD TV, cable channels and video on demand, IDD phones, complimentary Wi-Fi, tea/coffee making facilities, mini bar, in-room safe, individually controlled air conditioning and more.
The chalets offer a choice of views: lush green paddy fields, the forest or the lake. Whichever one chooses, there is a spacious terrace and picture frame windows to admire the view.
Strategically located at the centre of the Cultural Triangle and close to national parks, Ulagalla is the perfect base for travellers with a thirst for adventure and passion for wildlife.
The resort offers many excursions and guided tours: A cycling tour can be taken to explore the ancient capital of Anuradhapura in a novel way. Exciting wildlife safaris to the plains of Minneriya National Park to watch the elephants or further West to Wilpattu National Park – the realm of leopards – are organised with all the necessary permits.Witness the wonder of Kalawewa – a giant reservoir and a proud feat of engineering of an ancient kingdom, or visit the ancient ruins of Ritigala.
Explore the marvels of Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and other sites of archaeological and historical significance on a day trip.
Return to the resort for a cool dip in the private plunge pool or resort’s 30 m pool, rejuvenate in the spa, sip an exotic sundowner on the private deck or at the bar or enjoy a fine wine from the resort’s own underground wine cellar.
Be taken on a gastronomic journey of the finest gourmet cuisine in the open-air restaurant ‘Liyawela’ or opt for one of the many indulgent signature dining options the resort offers – everything is prepared from the freshest ingredients – from organic fruit and vegetables grown in the farm garden to paddy threshed from the resort’s own fields.
There are many activities offered on the hotel premises: a trek with the hotel’s naturalists, horse riding, kayaking, and archery to name a few. Each chalet has two mountain bicycles for guests to explore the surroundings at their own pace. Nature lovers could get on the observation deck and identify different species of birds and butterflies.
For two years, Team Ulagalla, led by General Manager and veteran hotelier Lalin De Mel, has been dedicated and committed to a customer centric goal. Roshan Dylan, the new Resort Manager joined Lalin and his team in July and together will continue to deliver the experience that is “Ulagalla”.
In addition to being a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Ulagalla was recently awarded the TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. This prestigious award, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide.
UGA Resorts is a fully owned subsidiary of the Finco Holdings. Incorporated in 1963, the group comprises several companies recording success in diverse fields. The company has two other properties – both offering a unique eco-beach concept – Jungle Beach Resort, Trincomalee, which opened in July 2012, and UGA Bay, Passekudah, which commences operation in September 2012.