Barbara & Brian
Switzerland, February 2020
We have just arrived home from a wonderful trip, so a huge thank you to you, Pathi, Mahesh (Ayesh) and the rest of the Tikalanka team for arranging such an unforgettable experience.
We thought it would be helpful for us to provide feedback on the various elements of the trip:-
Itinerary / logistics
The overall trip was really well thought through and gave us a well balanced trip, packed full of different experiences - culture, history, adventure and a view of the authentic way of life in Sri Lanka, coupled with the total relaxation of the Maldives. Although there was a lot of driving required in Sri Lanka, it was obviously necessary to take in so much in a relatively short period of time. Ayesh was extremely mindful of this and allowed us to break any longer journeys by interlacing various sites or activities along the way.
We have to say that Ayesh made Sri Lanka such a great experience for us. From the moment he greeted us at Colombo to the very end of the trip, he was so attentive, caring and knowledgeable. He was always well presented (and a non smoker, which was great for us), terribly polite and always punctual. He even found time to wash and clean the car every night!. He genuinely took great care to ensure that we felt safe and secure and was always available to arrange anything we needed even we were not together. He organised various activities and experiences that we looked for, such as Henna Tattoo for Barbara, local Ayurvedic massages, white water rafting, market experience, local restaurants and even string hopper cooking and banana tasting! I know that there were some logistic issues at the end of the trip with a possible need to change drivers in Hatton, but we really appreciate the way that Pathi resolved the issue so quickly to allow us to stay with Ayesh for the full trip, and for Ayesh in agreeing to do so. It was really important for us as we had developed a relationship with Ayesh and to have to get to know another driver would have diminished the experience for us. We really wanted to finish what we started with Ayesh.
An observation, and more a note to ourselves for the future perhaps, but we hadn’t quite realised that we would effectively lose a whole day in transferring from Sri Lanka to the Maldives resort. We left the hotel at around 10:15am and arrived in the resort at about 7:00pm local times. The flights were all on time, but the waiting time for the transfer to the sea plane was a lot longer than we had expected. Somehow we imagined that a 2:00pm arrival in Male and a 30 minute sea plane transfer would get us to the resort late afternoon.
Obviously time in the Maldives was our own, and the logistics back to Male were effective, even if a bit ‘casual’ with timings. It all worked perfectly.
Heritance Kandalama [Dambulla] - nice clean and spacious hotel, very welcoming and in beautiful surroundings and overlooking the lake. The only constructive criticism is that it lacked some soft seating outside, in shade and away from the pool, to allow a place for guests to relax and read a book away from their room. Food quality was very good buffet style.
Mountbatten Bungalow [Kandy] - absolutely great and the choice of chalet accommodation was the right one for us as it was more private and generally seemed somehow lighter and more relaxing than the accommodation inside the bungalow itself that we were shown. Ayesh managed to arrange with the hotel team for us to have a private curry cooking demonstration. This was really well done and thoroughly enjoyable and perhaps something that they could consider offering as a general activity for guests.
Norwood Bungalow [Ceylon Tea Trails] - our favourite by a long way! Clearly a top of the range choice, but the quality came through in every way. The food was first class, the room was wonderful and very colonial in style giving us a feeling of going back in time. The staff were lovely and highly attentive and the grounds were gorgeous with pool and croquet lawn and local tea plantation walks. The factory tour was very well arranged and gave great insight into this important aspect of Sri Lankan life. The constructive criticism is that the driveway approach to the hotel was in extremely poor condition and we had real concern that the car would be damaged. It also seemed that the hotel could easily arrange some accommodation for the drivers / guides as they had to travel some way back towards Hatton where cell coverage was not available, making communication difficult had it been needed. This wasn't a problem for us, but it could benefit other guests. We have provided these feedback points directly to the hotel as well.
[The] Wallawwa [Kotugoda] - very nice, clean and spacious hotel. Our stay was brief, but this was very fit for purpose as a high quality hotel close to the airport.
Sun Aqua Villu Reef [Maldives] - The reef villa was very spacious, clean, comfortable and the direct access to the water was lovely. We were east facing so had morning sun but also received the cooling wind all day long. The west facing sunset villas would have had the benefit of the evening sunset, but I suspect would have been a lot warmer. I would imagine that the direction of the villa is something that we would possibly pay more attention to next time round but we were very pleased with the way ours turned out. We hadn’t realised that the reef time was different to Male time, so not sure if we missed this point somewhere. We enjoyed the time in the resort, but we probably would not return to this particular one for a couple of reasons - firstly, the island adjacent to ours on the reef side was not particularly attractive with communication masts and what appeared to be storage buildings, so this marred the idilic views as you walked around the island. Secondly, the ‘All Inclusive’ package was really unclear regarding what was and was not included, where you could eat and when. You had to sign a bill even for all inclusive meals, which was a bit strange to have to sign for $90 buffet dinner on the first night even though it was later deducted. We would look out for these things in any return trip to the Maldives.
Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable vacation. We would definitely recommend Tikalanka to anyone looking for a high quality experience. Your help and patience in making our selection along with the organisation, planning and communication has been first class. Ayesh was incredible and his wide scope knowledge, enthusiasm for the job and his love for Sri Lanka has made us want to return to see more of this wonderful country and people.
I hope that this feedback is helpful and thanks again for our wonderful and unforgettable holiday.« All feedback