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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Club Villa

Ah, Club Villa ( so many memories there - mostly pleasant, one not quite so pleasant (through no fault of the resort) - and still one of my favourite getaways, just down the road from Colombo in Bentota.

Essentially a large house set in a coconut-tree-filled garden, Club Villa is the kind of resort that attracts visitors looking for privacy and is ideal for a quiet weekend with good friends or indeed for a hectic naughty weekend with just one friend (or several - whatever floats your boat and more power to you if you can manage the plural!), not that I'd know anything about the latter, of course, and nor am I immortalised in the guest-book either. Just to let you know...

The villa has a "Bawaesque" ( feel to it: lots of light and space, decorated with interesting pieces of sculpture set in intriguing crannies and tasteful paintings on the walls.

The ceilings are high, the windows large, the verandahs generously proportioned. There are lovely traditional beds (four-posters in some) and planters' chairs in the bedrooms and the whole place exudes an air of discreet relaxation in the family Walauwwa, with recliners in shady spots in the garden as well as lovely little nooks hither and yon complete with daybeds for dreaming away on:

There are 17 rooms to choose from at Club Villa including the Club Suite. I haven't stayed in the Club Suite, but I have occupied a different style of room on each of the three occasions I have been. (Two of the visits have actually been in the company of The Hyphenated-Welshman, but rest assured he was very much in the "quiet weekend with friends" bracket - despite having shared a bed with him a couple of times in London and Colombo drunk and semi-clothed, believe me that is one rarebit that I would not venture to sample under any circumstances...).

Anyway, I digress - back to the rooms. My first visit to Club Villa was immediately after my 30th birthday party, oh so many years ago. The Hyphenated-Welshman had turned up in Sri Lanka to surprise me and, since interesting developments had cropped up for both of us during that superb shindig, the four of us decided to pootle off for a quick Bentota hop once the hangovers subsided. The two rooms we had on that occasion remain my favourite at Club Villa.  Adjacent to one another in a more private corner of the Villa, each room was beautifully appointed - wooden floor, four-poster bed, large bathroom. One room had a small balcony with a lovely view over the garden while the other had a large terrace cooled by the sea-breeze. The weekend passed in a haze of herbal smoke, good whisky and other memorable activities.

The terrace on the left, balcony on the right

My next visit to Club Villa was a few years later on a very hastily-arranged one-night stay midweek to take advantage of another interesting development that had cropped up out of the blue. The Villa was quite full and I had to settle for one of the regular rooms in the main body of the Villa. While the room itself was fine - nicely decorated, spacious bathroom etc., it felt like "just another room" and was my least favourite of the three. Given the circumstances of the trip, there was definitely significantly less privacy in this room than in the other two I've stayed in. This trip turned out to be profitable in more ways than one when an appreciative box full of booze (including a very rare Remy Martin) arrived by courier the following week, all the way from the land of the Vegemite sandwich...

(I love Vegemite, by the way, and may well compose a little ode to its sticky splendidness one day).

The third trip to Club Villa was a few years back, on another one of the Hyphenated-Welshman's holidays in Sri Lanka (he is now an honorary Lankan - a bit like a crepe filled with jaggery: white on the outside, brown on the inside) accompanied this time by The GE of DQ. As ever on trips with The GE this was a weekend largely spent discussing the meaning of life and it's got to be said that Club Villa is one of the most pleasant places to do so in, whether it be lounging in the garden by the pool getting gently tanked on Bombay Sapphire or having dinner under the stars  getting gently choked to death as your throat closes up in anaphylactic shock after eating shellfish without remembering to take your antihistamines first... The anaphylactic episode rather marred the weekend for me but I'm happy to say it didn't spoil H-W's or The GE's other than as a brief interruption to their conversation as I apologised for being rude and stumbled off to lay down and die. To be fair to them, The GE did ask if I was ok when they returned to our triple room several hours later. By then I had recovered enough to moan softly and, worn out by the exertions of their solicitude, the two of them retired to their slumbers secure in the knowledge that they had taken care of me and I was going to be alright...

(I have to say the episode was not the fault of the resort's: H-W and The GE ate the same thing as I did and were fine - this was just a case of my allergies going ballistic on me).

The room we stayed in was fabulous - ideal for a small family, set on two levels with a large bed on the main floor and a single bed up a flight of stairs on a cozy little mezzanine overlooking the lower level. The bathroom was somewhat smaller than the other rooms I've stayed in and (unfortunately for the maintenance man who happened to be replacing some tiles as I happened to be evacuating my bowels with the windows wide open) was rather distressingly situated on eye-level with the roof of the adjoining part of the villa...

The food at Club Villa is excellent, anaphylaxis notwithstanding. Breakfast is always a highlight and the attentive staff are only too happy to ply you with as much delicious pol sambol etc as you can eat. The lunch and dinner menus are also good, as is the cooking. As with most boutique resorts in Sri Lanka, the hotel is quite tolerant of guests bringing their own wine and spirits at no corkage fee (this may be more the case for locals rather than foreign guests) although one is generally expected to buy beer there.

The resort's garden leads out to a relatively secluded stretch of beach. Not being much of a sea-bather myself (odd given how much I love diving in it...), I prefer the hotel's just-right-sized pool, perfect for floating about in with minimum effort and within easy access of the gin-and-tin:

If you seek a languid mini-break or a discreet romantic escape, Club Villa is the place for you. Please, please, please do not go there if you're the parent or parents of young children - the best thing about this resort is its peace and quiet and the last thing anyone would want is to have that tranquility shattered by noisy little buggers running amok...

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