The new Aliya Resort & Spa in Sigiriya is located in the ‘dry zone’ that encircles most of Sri Lanka. The resort, which opened early this year, celebrates the Sri Lankan elephant (Aliya means ‘elephant’ in Sinhalese). With its emphasis on local culture and traditions, Aliya is bringing something new to hotel stays in the Cultural Triangle.
An enormous mural by Paris-based street artist dAcRuZ acknowledges the dilemma faced by humans and wildlife competing for the same ground, the same natural resources. In the lower left of the wall painting, a sign warns of an electrified fence. On a facing wall, a work by a Sri Lankan artist–a happy elephant family–presents the desired outcome of humans and wildlife living in harmony.
From the friendly welcome to stunning facilities and outstanding personal services, we were happy to call Aliya home while in the Cultural Triangle.
A friendly welcome
The resort’s service buildings are constructed in keeping with village architecture, while the central hall, dining areas and pool are starkly modern.
Comfortable, stylish accommodation
The hotel offers both elegantly appointed suites and luxurious tented rooms (‘glamping’, anyone?), the latter located along well-lit jungle paths. Resort Manager Sujeeva Basnayake says the aim is to provide guests with upscale amenities, along with a cultural experience that respects and reflects the traditions of villages in this part of the country.
An introduction to ‘paddy culture’
Area villagers live in harmony with nature, and until tourist facilities came on the scene, wild elephants. Sri Lanka’s largest concentration of wild elephants roam the sanctuary of Minneriya National Park, not far from Aliya Resort.
Aliya’s executive chef, knowing of our interest in trying local foods, pulled out all the stops, and asked a housewife from a nearby village to prepare a meal showcasing local produce and traditional cooking methods. Our meal was prepared in the resort’s thatched-roof wattle-and-daub kitchen, and we ate on the veranda of the Paddy Museum.
Other concierge services available to guests include elephant safaris in Mineriya National Park, excursions to Sigiriya (Lion Rock) and the Dambulla cave temples. An early start for these sites is advisable, and the Aliya kitchen was happy to provide us with yummy breakfast packets.
Our stay at Aliya Resort turned out to be one of the most gracious of our journey through Sri Lanka!
* * *
To see all our travel stories from Sri Lanka, click here.