Chaaya charges ahead

Thursday, 22 September 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Marianne David

The John Keells Hotels Group’s latest offerings – Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa and Chaaya Wild Yala – are gearing up to take the industry by storm, as the group continues with heavy investments, throwing its weight behind Sri Lanka’s tourism thrust.

Backed by heavy investment, both hotels are being completely refurbished and will be launched under the ‘Chaaya Hotels & Resorts’ brand from 1 November 2011, while the awareness campaign will kick-off next Tuesday.

Showcasing the local flavours of Hikkaduwa, Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa would best be described as a “celebration” of the liberal lifestyle there, boasting vibrant interiors and luxurious spaces.

The group has infused a total investment of US$ 12 million to transform the property, which is a 150-room resort. All its superior and deluxe rooms and suites offer direct sea views and the facilities of the resort will ensure a fully refurbished main restaurant, speciality crab restaurant, bars and lounges as well as a roof top spa. There’s more good news – the group will also make Chaaya Tranz its base for whale watching in Mirissa.

“Chaaya Tranz is reflective of our objective of having iconic properties with their own style. Hikkaduwa has been known for being a cool and happening spot for the young and trendy and we have considered this dynamic into the look and feel of our envisaged four-star hotel,” said Sector Head – Sri Lankan Resorts of the John Keells Hotels Sector Jayantissa Kehelpannala.

Reinforcing the group’s position as a trendsetter in the tourism industry, Chaaya Tranz will further establish John Keells Hotels Group as the largest chain of hotels in Sri Lanka. The hotel, which sits on the property that was once Coral Gardens Hotel, is being given a revolutionary makeover by master architect Channa Daswatte that is sure to impress and astound regulars of Coral Gardens come November.

“The interior decor is inspired by the general arty atmosphere of ‘Hikka’ with its (sometimes) wild night clubs, bright coloured fabrics for sale on the roads and the slightly edgy style of everything. One of the main features which enhanced a new perspective of depth to the room with the addition of the 12x6 gazebo styled balcony,” Daswatte asserted.

Capturing the true spirit of the wild, Chaaya Wild Yala is gearing up to be a nature enthusiast’s dream come true. The John Keells Hotels Group’s US$ 0.4 million investment is a 66-chalet world class game lodge placed in what could best be described as an extension of the Yala National Park with open boundaries to the surrounding wildlife.

The resort’s offerings stem from responsible tourism practices aimed at conserving and being one with its precious environs. A roof top observation deck and bar would be a key attraction of the property, offering a 360 degree view of the surrounding wilderness.

With extensive renovation and refurbishment by a competent team, which includes Daswatte, the former Yala Village will introduce unique creative facets in jungle living, capturing the true spirit of the wild and offering a completely different experience to discerning nature enthusiasts.

“As much as the entire feel of Chaaya Wild will complement its environs at Yala, we are excited to present ‘Nature Trails’ – our dedicated naturalist team offering unique experiences that are wild and personal. These men who know this terrain like the back of their hands will take you tracking Yala’s leopards and big game like never before and interpret the jungle telegraph, creating wild adventures that will stay with our guests forever,” asserted Kehelpannala.

The investments in Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa and Chaaya Wild Yala are hot on the heels of the group’s large investment in the east coast in opening Chaaya Blu last year.

With a combined investment of over US$ 16 million, the two distinctly unique properties are certain to enrich the country’s overall tourism offering. The group has three Chaaya Hotels operating in Sri Lanka at present – Chaaya Village Habarana, Chaaya Citadel Kandy and Chaaya Blu Trincomalee – in addition to three in the Maldives.

Commenting on the group’s expansion, John Keells Holdings PLC Deputy Chairman Ajit Gunewardene asserted that it would continue to invest not only in increasing the size and reach of its hotel portfolio, but also in adding unique and districts properties to enhance Sri Lanka’s overall tourism offering.