Did you know that Sri Lanka’s Unawatuna Beach was voted ‘The World’s Best Tropical Beach’ by The Discovery Channel and ‘Best Beach in the World’ by Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides? Well, now you do, you’ll most likely be scouring the ‘net for a family-friendly resort on that very stretch of beach for your next break. Job done, dear readers: check out Calamander Unawatuna Beach Resort.
Next to Galle on the island’s south coast, it’s the only resort hotel located directly on Unawatuna’s strip of golden sand. Think stylish accommodation, alfresco dining, world-class swimming pools, spectacular sunsets and some of Sri Lanka’s best and safest swimming all-year round within a protected bay – and all this just 90 minutes away from Colombo airport. Flick through the gallery to drool over the resort’s breathtaking location and facilities!
As if Unawatuna Bay’s giant saltwater swimming pool isn’t enough, Unawatuna Beach Resort wraps up three of the coolest design pools in Sri Lanka. Pool hop between two stunning Italian glass mosaic pools in a shade of vermillion to mirror the spectacular sunsets that Unawatuna Bay is famous for – the Sun Pool with its fab’ jacuzzi and the child-friendly Turtle Pool. Little ones under the age of 8 will love the Turtle Pool with its glittering mosaic turtle, named after the turtles that lay their eggs on Unawatuna Beach. Then don your kaftan for the short stroll to the Blu Pool, Asia’s first and longest glass-fronted pool right on Unawatuna Beach. It’s conveniently located next to the vibey 680 Blu Bar, which rocks couple loungers, a lengthy cocktail list and enough sports entertainment to keep even the most die-hard fans happy.
Kayak, bodysurf, snorkel and paddleboard in Unawatuna Bay, or head out to dive wrecks and reefs or for a spot of whale and dolphin watching. Once ashore, show off your stuff during beach games such as volleyball, croquet, boules, badminton or cricket, and tone up with aqua aerobics, gym, table tennis, a Hatha Yoga class or two or private fitness lessons (with a dishy ex-Sri Lankan army fitness instructor and ex-Sri Lankan Navy swimming instructor, no less).
Feeling hungry? Alfresco is the order of the day here, with four beachside restos’ and bars. Bags a table at the main restaurant which has the longest solid timber roof in Sri Lanka built this century. (FYI: It’s a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Magul Maduwa, The Royal Audience Hall of Kandy, so don’t miss the chance to mix cuisine with culture). Melt Bistro is another must-try, with its wine cellar, live cooking stations, the island’s first Ramen noodle bar and a range of Asian street food favourites. Make a date with the nightly Seafood Market on a traditional fishing boat displaying the freshest local catch of the day that can be cooked to order. For light bites, head to Brix Pizzeria Bar & Cafe with its brick oven serving up Italian-style hand-made pizzas, paninis and wraps. Play chess and other board games, or just stare on out at the Indian Ocean (we wouldn’t blame you).
The resort’s design nous extends to the accommodation, with the signature room design both minimalist and functional with an emphasis on natural light, top quality materials, bespoke solid mahogany furniture, and plenty of glass and timber. Oh, and free WiFi, plush mattresses, 32-inch flat screen TVs, satellite channels with international news, sports and movies, Hans Grohe rain showers and glass-fronted mini bars. There are 83 rooms across three categories – the 25 sq m Deluxe, 30-35 sq m Super Deluxe and 45-50 sq m Luxury Rooms with jacuzzi – all with either balconies or terraces with lush views. Family tip: Two of the deluxe rooms interconnect to provide a family suite of approximately 45 sq m, and there are Super Deluxe family rooms available, too.
Once your tan is topped up and you’re ready to explore the island, make for Galle Fort, a UNESCO heritage site that’s only a 15-minute drive from the resort. The hotel’s travel company can arrange tours to any of the island’s attractions with one of their friendly experienced English-speaking drivers. Culture vulture gold!