John & Jane
England, January/February 2022
What did you like most about Sri Lanka?
The people, hospitality, scenery, wildlife/birdlife, history and culture (Buddhist and apparent attachment to British colonial past).
What did you like least about Sri Lanka?
What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?
All excellent bit some above others depending on location – see detailed feedback provided below.
What is your opinion of your chauffeur guide in Sri Lanka?
Ravi was the perfect host, guide and driver. His English improved over the period.
What is your opinion of your flights to and from Sri Lanka?
Flew BA and Qatar [Airways] via Doha (Business Class). Both excellent. [Arranged their own flights]
Any other comments?
Overall, we had a wonderful holiday and would have no hesitation in recommending Sri Lanka and Tikalanka to friends and family. Especially appreciated was Tikalanka’s understanding of our brief, which was met perfectly. Every location and venue appeared to have prior understanding of our needs and preferences.
From a scheduling perspective, we would have appreciated a day of rest after we arrived to recover from the journey. The first few days were demanding, and we were tired from the start. This may have been because of the desire to ensure we did not go to Polonnaruwa on a busy weekend day – if so, this is appreciated but we were playing catch-up from a fatigue point of view for a good few days. [Many of our customers do prefer a rest day on arrival and this is built into the itinerary, on request.]
John had asked about laundry services before we departed. As it turned out, no-one offered laundry service until we threw ourselves on the mercy of Sinharaja Rest (Palitha, we suspect took it back to his house!). We feel Tikalanka could have been aware of this and pre-warned us. [We apologise for the lack of laundry services at your accommodation, which is a surprise to us, too, since all of the accommodation usually provides laundry facilities, either in-house or sent out. We will ensure that the accommodation is made aware of the need for a laundry service at all times.]
The pre-departure information was very helpful, especially the tipping advice. However, the degree of difficulty of the trek on Horton Plains was understated and for someone with any physical difficulties (e.g. two replacement knees) the walk was extremely challenging. We believe the walk and the terrain should be described more fully to potentially prevent any injuries that would diminish enjoyment of the rest of the holiday. [As suggested, we will update our description of the trek to World’s End and back in Horton Plains NP to include an idea of the level of fitness and mobility required in order to enjoy the experience.]
Likewise, Ravi was keen that we attended the ceremony in Kandy in white clothing. We managed to do this, but some more detailed explanation of the dress code for temples and the like would have been helpful (including the need to cover arms and shoulders). [We will include an advisory about wearing white clothing to temples out of courtesy since it isn’t obligatory for non-Buddhists. However, the other dress code advice is already included in our pre-departure information.]
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DID TO GIVE US SUCH A GREAT HOLIDAY.
Detailed Feedback on the Venues and Trips
Roo Mansala, Sigiriya
- Excellent small boutique hotel
- Superb views of Lion [Rock, Sigiriya] and other Rock [Pidurangala]
- Service – nothing too much trouble; owner/manager very attentive and open to feedback
- Facilities very good – pool much appreciated
- On site breakfast excellent
- Take-away breakfast excellent
- Dinner – variable; some of the meat was of poor quality; lot of battered food
- Suggest more could be made of the lake within 5 minutes’ walk which was tranquil and great for bird watching
- Location challenging from an access point of view – remoteness added to the charm but very challenging for the driver
- Polonnaruwa – fascinating and guide excellent
- Lion Rock – well worth the exhausting climb, fabulous views and blown away by the gardens and the 1600-year-old irrigation system
- Dambulla Buddhist caves – fascinating
Hanthana House, Kandy
- Excellent home cooking – a highlight
- Room and balcony very nice – surprised not to have the room serviced
- Very welcoming and attentive host and staff
- An opportunity to learn more about Sri Lankan living
- Location limited the opportunity to stroll around Kandy, although we were too tired to do this
- Temple of the Tooth ceremony impressive and worthwhile – see comments above about dress code
- [Peradeniya] Botanical Gardens beautiful and relaxing – loved the big bats! [There is a resident colony of fruit bats]
The Cottage [by Jetwing], Nuwara Eliya
- Location convenient for stroll around the town / racecourse, etc.
- Unfortunately, the power hadn’t been turned on when we arrived and it was very cold! This was rectified quickly
- The young man who was in charge was very helpful and an asset to Ravi
- Excellent takeaway breakfast provided for our walk on Horton Plains
- Visit to the tea plantation was interesting and very enjoyable
- Walk on Horton Plains was invigorating but very challenging – see our comments above regarding the pre-departure information on the degree of difficulty of the walk
- Local driver attentive and a good guide
- Train journey [from Nanuoya] to Ella was excellent and a highlight
EKHO [Ella], Ella
- Excellent hotel with fantastic views of the Ella Gap
- Location within walking distance of the town was a benefit
- Very good breakfast
- Attentive and charming staff
- Lovely gardens which we enjoyed relaxing in
- B&B allowed us to eat good local food which was an enjoyable change from the cuisine of the HB hotels
- Appreciated the opportunity to rest in a beautiful location
- Jane’s walk with Ravi to Little Adam’s Peak was a good opportunity to enjoy more views of Ella Gap
- John took the opportunity to explore Ella and investigate the extensive Sri Lankan railway system
Flameback Eco Lodge [Weerawila]
- Beautiful location and glamping experience although we didn’t spend much time on the premises – would have loved to have spent more time there
- The lady in reception was particularly charming
- Dinner acceptable on half board terms
- Adequate take-away breakfast (but not to the standard of Roo Mansala and The Cottage [by Jetwing])
- Nice curry take-away lunch purchased but with no cutlery!
- Bundala was fabulous and the guide excellent
- Yala an enjoyable full-day experience – no leopards on this day or our return visit the following day (which we substituted for a second visit to Bundala)
Kalu’s Hideaway [Udawalawe]
- Beautiful hotel and gardens at convenient distance from Udawalawe
- Loved the opportunity to meet the cricketing legend who was delightful [the owner is the famous Sri Lankan cricketer Romesh Kaluwitharana]
- Great welcome but staff inexperienced
- Dinner acceptable on half board terms
- Take-away breakfast poor relative to previous experiences
- Take-away lunch acceptable chicken and rice but with no cutlery!
- We decided to forgo a second visit to the Park to rest by the pool after several early starts
- Great day in Udalwalawe National Park – loved the elephants and Ravi secured a fabulous guide in the afternoon who was a bird expert
Sinharaja Rest [Deniyaya]
- A fabulous alternative experience delivered by Palitha and his staff
- Welcoming and informative
- Pali was knowledgeable and enthusiastic
- Authentic and excellent Sri Lankan food – a highlight
- Provided a much-needed laundry service – see comments above
- The walk in the reserve was a great experience and the swim in the river a refreshing adventure
- Walking through the local village and farms gave an insight into local life and an appreciation of the rigours of subsistence living which was a humbling experience to privileged westerners, especially as everyone was charmingly hospitable
Fort Bliss, Galle
- Excellent location and a charming and helpful hotel manager – nothing too much trouble and good sense of humour
- Excellent breakfast
- The time allocated (an afternoon) to visiting Galle was perfect
- The boat trip on the Mahamodara River was fabulous and a memorable experience in the midst of a busy city - the guide was very good
Buckingham Place [Tangalle]
- Impossible to put into words how fabulous this was – location, gardens, staff, facilities all 7-star
- The service levels were second to none – impossible to put into words
- Breakfast excellent
- Dinner very good – we went out to a beach restaurant one evening, which was charming with very good seafood stir fry
- The room (bedroom, bath/shower room, terrace) beyond description
- Nick [Buckingham, owner] was the perfect host, and we enjoyed our conversations with him and learning about his life in Sri Lanka
- None – who would want to be away from the hotel?
- Although we did venture out along the beach to the “Beach Restaurant”
- We missed the turtle season by a month
- Transfer to airport comfortable and punctual
These are our thoughts at the end of a wonderful holiday to Sri Lanka and are hopefully helpful and not seen as a criticism.
THANK YOU AND PLEASE PASS OUR THANKS TO RAVI, PATHI, PALITHA AND NICK.« All feedback