Olivia & Patrick

Germany, December 2017/January 2018

What did you like most about Sri Lanka?

The beautiful, lush and varied nature.

The temples and rich history.

The delicious food.

What did you like least about Sri Lanka?

The chaos / disorganization (especially when driving).

The exaggerated tipping culture – nothing is done without expecting or asking for it.

The hygiene standards.

What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?

Overall we were quite happy with the hotels, however one must bear in mind that 5-star hotels in Sri Lanka are not equivalent to 5-star hotels in Europe, for example. While the services are generally up to par, the buildings and facilities are not always.

The worst hotel by far was the [Grand] Udawalawe Safari Resort. The food was mediocre, and the toilet seat in the bathroom was yellow, stained and (while it was surely sanitized) should definitely have been replaced. Thankfully we only spent one night there, but I would really not recommend it.

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

Great, Kapila was very knowledgeable and accommodating. He completely catered the trip and his explanations to our interests. What’s more, when my husband was feeling ill, he went to buy him some medicine without us even asking. He drove for hours on end, and even though he was tired he would always just smile and do his best to make sure we were enjoying ourselves.

The one thing that left us feeling a little uneasy was when he brought us to this massage place close to our hotel in Habarana. He said it was great and cheaper than in any hotels, but unfortunately the hut and its surroundings were full of mosquitos (we each got over 5 bites in the 5 minutes we were there, even though we had put on mosquito spray!), their card machine didn’t work, and they wanted 6000 rupees per person, when in the hotel we later saw a flyer for a similar treatment for only 4000 rupees. Needless to say we walked out without the massage.

At certain points we felt like he must get some sort of “cut” for bringing us to certain services / shops, which is understandable, but it would be nicer if we didn’t feel peddled around, like we did at the massage place mentioned above and a very expensive wood carving place. Apart from that, we liked the jewellery store he showed us and the Batik store.

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

Emirates was great – a really comfortable and pleasant flight both ways. Fly Dubai on the other hand was quite the opposite… you can tell it’s a low-cost carrier as you don’t get any food, drinks or entertainment, and unfortunately that flight was over 5 hours…

Any other comments?

Overall, we had an absolutely lovely honeymoon. It was truly special and unforgettable, and it was amazing not to have to worry about any logistics! We could take in the sites and focus on enjoying every moment to the max! That being said, there were a couple disappointing things that could be improved, and would have made our vacation truly perfect:

  1. The aforementioned hotel switch. Although the issue is sorted with the refund, it would have been nice to be informed of something like the change of accommodation in advance, as it would really have put our mind at ease. In that moment we felt like there must have been some mistake, especially as we paid for the whole sum of our vacation 2 months in advance and assumed that all our hotels would be already booked at that time.  [We apologise for the last-minute change of accommodation, which happens sometimes during the peak season, particularly with hotel chains that have a choice of properties in the same locale.]
  2. No late checkout included on our last day. On the last day of our holiday we only left the hotel for the airport at 8:00 PM. Unfortunately, checkout is at 12:00 midday, which means that we had to pack our bags, vacate the room and leave them in the storage room in the lobby. Furthermore, our "all inclusive" status also ended at 12:00, so although we paid for "all inclusive" we spent about 30 EUR extra on the last day for a meal and some drinks in the 8 hours before leaving the hotel. While the staff was very nice and allowed us to stay by the pool, not having a room meant that we couldn't easily change or take a shower before travelling for almost 24 hours afterwards that night. It would have been great if you could have handled late checkout for us, as by the time we inquired about it at the front desk they said it was too late and the room was already booked. Even just giving it as an option for X GBP more in our itinerary at time of booking would have been much appreciated, as our last couple hours in Sri Lanka were unfortunately not as comfortable as they could have been, and it felt like this detail was simply overlooked.  [We had enquired about a late checkout but, at the time, no rooms were available. Obviously, without the extra room night or late check-out, the al- inclusive package stopped at 12.00, which is the standard checkout time. We are sorry if this was a less than satisfactory end to your stay.]
  3. The [Grand] Udawalawe Safari Resort was by far the worst accommodation during the whole trip. The Cinnamon hotels, the Jetwing and the Heritance Ahungalla were very nice, but this one could not compete. The food was mediocre, and while the staff was friendly, the facilities were just not up to par. Even the toilet seat in our en suite was so yellow and stained, it should have been retired a long time ago. I would not recommend it. [There is no 4- or 5-star accommodation available around Uda Walawe at the present time but we are disappointed that you found Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort to be of a sub-standard quality. We will feedback your comments to the management.]
  4. The Kandy Dancers were disappointing, and my husband and I both left feeling underwhelmed. The dancing itself was alright, but some of the dancers clearly didn't know their moves, the stage was very "make-shift" with awkwardly hung curtains, and the sound system was crackling and stopped working within the first 5 minutes. They kept trying to fix it during the performance with no luck. It felt amateur, although from what we heard they repeat this performance often. The cherry on top was that at the end of it all the audience was forced to "exit through the gift shop" snaking through two large, expensive stores. It just felt like the biggest tourist trap. [We have mixed feedback about the cultural show.]

Apart from these points above, we have a couple suggestions, which looking back would have been nice:

  • Next time you have a booking from a young couple, they might like to include some more time in Galle. Patrick and I really enjoyed our short visit, and would have liked to have stayed there for one night, so we could have some more time to wander and explore on our own. It had such a nice combination of European feel and Sri Lankan charm that it left us wanting a bit more. It would have been a nice "change of pace" from always staying at hotels that are not walking distance from any stores or restaurants. 
  • If any other trips include a transfer from Colombo to Dambulla / Habarana, I would suggest leaving the hotel before 10:00 AM. Pathi suggested over the phone that we leave at that time and, unfortunately, due to the traffic / holiday season, a 3.5 hour car ride turned into a 7 hour car ride. While we still managed to make it to Dambulla right before closing, it felt like we spent our second full day in Sri Lanka seated in a car.

Our absolutely favourite things, which we would wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, were:

  • All of the historical sites and temples were breath-taking, and the tour was well organized and informative. We would go back in a heartbeat!
  • Kandy was our favourite city - so lively, colourful with the lovely lake in the centre by the Temple of the Tooth. 
  • The safari was one of the most fun activities! I wish it would have lasted longer! I could have done it for the whole day.
  • The Jetwing St. Andrew's [Nuwara Eliya] was a particularly nice hotel - and they upgraded our room and left us a delicious chocolate cake for our honeymoon! 
  • The Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel [Colombo] was a lovely hotel, and a great way to start off our trip!

I hope these tips will help for the future! Thanks again for organising our unforgettable honeymoon.

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