Kath & Chris

England, November 2018

What did you like most about Sri Lanka?

The variation of accommodation styles.  Home cooking.  The amazing nature and wildlife….and most of all ANURA!!

What did you like most about Maldives?

Being ‘off grid’ (once we’d gotten over the Wi-Fi prices and decided to embrace ‘no internet) and the amazing snorkelling. The water bungalow was amazing for the sunset. [Filitheyo Island Resort]

What did you like least about Sri Lanka?

The shoddy SriLankan ground crew in Colombo airport.

What did you like least about Maldives?

The crazy spa, bar and Wi-Fi prices.  Seems the hotel management want guests to convert to all inclusive and there was certainly a different level of service and attention given to all inclusive guests…shame.

What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?

Each accommodation was so different and each was a great experience.

Particular favourites were; Lake Lodge Kandalama [Dambulla], The IBIS [Wilpattu], 98 Acres [Resort, Ella] and Taru Villas [- Lake Lodge, Colombo].

Mandira Strathdon Bungalow [Hatton] is lovely with amazing views but lacks any atmosphere.  The staff are very polite but stiff and the place is silent.  We put on our own music during dinner to break the silence. 

What is your opinion of your accommodation in Maldives?

Accommodation – Good (4/5)

Beach – Good (4/5)

Diving – N/A

Food – Very good (5/5)

Responsible and/or sustainable travel – Good (4/5)

Service – Good (4/5)

Snorkelling – Very good (5/5)

Spa – N/A (Did not use as too expensive)

Transfer (seaplane) – Satisfactory (3/5) (2 hour delay on way out with no explanation)

Overall experience – Good (4/5)

What is your opinion of your chauffeur guide in Sri Lanka?

Anura is awesome.  He is a credit to Tikalanka and all official guides.  We can’t praise him highly enough for his calm manner, knowledge of Sri Lankan history, culture and wildlife, his sense of humour and willingness to listen to us and make minor changes to our tour to suit us perfectly.  We just had so much fun in his company and we sorry to say goodbye to him.

What is your opinion of your flights to and from Sri Lanka and Maldives?

Flight itself was fine.  However, worst experience I have ever had caused by the total lack of customer service from Sri Lankan Airlines ground crew.  We arrived into the import 3 hours before our flight and advised to check in at counter 29.  Counter 29 was being used by 4 airlines and already had a queue of over 200 Chinese travellers. The luggage belt was broken so nothing happened for 15 mins. (I have no idea how long the Chinese passengers had been waiting)  then 3 further counters were opened and the Chinese travellers ran to the counters knocking us out of the way and pushing us and all other travellers to the back of the queue…Sri Lankan Airlines did nothing and the luggage belt was still broken so nothing happened and no one was being checked in.  I asked one of the check in operators what was happening…he pointed at the belt and said ‘broken’.  When I asked how were they going to check people and in deal with the disruptive Chinese passengers, he put his hand to my face and told me to get back in line…he was a Sri Lankan Airlines representative.  I went to the passenger customer service desk where 7 SriLankan Airlines reps were sitting looking at their phones or chatting.  None were willing to help and said they only help disabled passengers.  Asked for the manager and then the duty manager….this took 30 mins and still no working luggage belts or communication from SriLankan reps. The duty manager apologised, said that Chinese passengers were unruly and the ground crew didn't like to deal with them (!) but still didn't take my name when offered and told me to complain formally I would have to report the matter on board to the flight staff.  Of course on board, the flight staff told me I should have made the formal complaint to the ground crew.   Bad experience and am ashamed of the national carrier and their ground crew.  I’ve made an online complaint since returning but don't expect a response even though and I have manager names and photos of the chaos and SriLankan staff sitting with their back to the queue and head down at the customer service desk so as to ignore me. Poor experience. [SriLankan Airlines – Economy Class]

Any other comments?

We really appreciated the detail in your planning that meant each accommodation was a different experience; from small boutique hotel, to 2 room eco lodge, to homestay to real luxury at 98 Acres [Resort] then a tea planters bungalow and finally new designer chic in Colombo.

Also a big shout out to Anura who completely made the holiday. We had such a great time in his company and were tearful when we said our goodbyes at the airport.  What lovely man with a beautiful soul and great sense of humour and a pride for his country that is truly humbling.

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