UNIQUE 4 STAR HOTEL | 4 DELUXE ROOMS | 53 STANDARD ROOMS
Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, the town of Nuwara Eliya is the perfect getaway from Sri Lanka’s tropical heat. Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring like weather throughout the year. A favourite retreat of the British during colonial times, Nuwara Eliya is dotted with English country style houses and sprawling gardens, earning it the name Little England. Stop by the well-maintained Central Park, which is awash with flowers between March and May. Make time for an evening stroll on the numerous walking paths around Gregory’s Lake, which is located just south of the town.
The hotel is one of character and star-class, set in an emerald teascape 6,800 feet above sea level, only six degrees from the equator, the Tea Factory is in the mountain range famous for producing the worlds best Pure Ceylon Tea.
The hotel began as a factory built in the days of the British Raj. It has been converted so that much of the original style and machinery remains as a reminder of the past which is in perfect harmony with innovations of the present.
To stay at the Tea Factory is to experience a hotel like no other. Step into the reception, and you are standing where the factory’s leaf drying process was carried out. The atrium is latticed with steel and at its top are two giant wooden fans capped with brass remind you that the bedrooms are on floors that used to be the withering lofts. The tea packing room is now the hotel’s popular bar. Where tea was sifted and graded is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant; its modern kitchen used to be the engine room. The cuisine is definitely “my cup of tea”, and I’m sure you’d love it too.
The withering lofts have been transformed into 57 bedrooms of cosy, carpeted comfort. Wood is the main material used, with doors, shelves and cupboards (plenty of them) left in their natural colours. The windows remain as they were in their original square wooden frames and these provide a glorious view from all bedrooms and bathrooms. Each bathroom has both a bathtub and shower, while the bedrooms are all centrally heated and boasts built-in dressing tables with wrap around mirrors, and beds designed for a perfect night’s sleep.
The view from the rooms at the front of the hotel give a wonderful panoramic view of the tea plantations and at its rear, a peaceful pastoral scene of hamlets, hills and forest, as well as more tea meets your gaze.
History of the Tea Factory
In 1867 a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor first introduced tea to Ceylon (as the island was then known). Within a decade, the plant had become a popular crop covering over 5000 acres. As the number of requests to open tea plantations grew, the government sold virgin crown land to pioneer planters in the 1870s. Among the bidders was Mr. W. Flowerdew who became the first proprietary planter of what was to become ‘Hethersett’.
Mr. Flowerdew chose for his plantation the name Hethersett, after a village in England, which provides a clue to his origins. In Tamil, the plantation is known as Pupanie, which when translated into English means Flowers of Frost – a picturesque way of describing the cold mist that occasionally descends on Hethersett. By 1881 however, Flowerdew had sold the plantation, which then passed through the hands of different owners, each of whom contributed to its development.
The Hethersett tea plantation has played an important role in the development of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. The Hethersett factory was the first to fetch the highest price in the world for silver tip tea from Ceylon. This exciting achievement ensured that the Hethersett mark would become synonymous with quality Pure Ceylon Tea.
In the mid-1930s a hill was scalped to create a plateau for the new factory, which is the hotel today. When it was first built it was regarded as a remarkable work of engineering. The factory was ingeniously powered by an oil fired engine with flywheels and pulleys to operate the large fans for withering the tea, and also the rollers and sifters. By 1968 however, the Hethersett factory had passed its heyday and was finally closed in 1973. It stood disused, among the surrounding tea bushes, a silent monument to the great days of Pure Ceylon Tea.
In 1992, Mr. G.C. Wickremasinghe, a Director of Aitken Spence & Co. Ltd., happened to observe the tea factory through the mist covered hills. He immediately had a vision of transforming the superbly sited factory shell into a unique, luxury hotel, an idea brought to realisation through the talent of Sri Lankan architect Nihal Bodhinayake.
Now restored, the Hethersett Tea Factory is poised to regain its former glory, this time not for processing tea but for serving it.
UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Merit Award 2001
The UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific announced the awards for the year on 17th September 2001. The Tea Factory, a unique hotel concept, received one of the five merit awards for the impressive conversion of a dilapidated tea factory into a luxury hotel complex, demonstrating a challenging adaptive reuse project, executed with commendable skill and vision.
All winning entries demonstrated understanding of the issues of conservation in relation to the cultural, social, historical and architectural significance of the building, employment of appropriate building and artisan techniques, use of appropriate materials, and a significant impact in the surrounding environment, contributing to the cultural and historical continuum of the community.
South Asian Architecture Award
South Asian architecture awards were initiated in 1995 to recognise the world of architectural excellence in the whole of South Asia. Being the first award of its kind in the SAARC region, this has earned great prestige, status and confidence of the fraternity of Architects in the sub-continent. Mr. Nihal Bodhinayake received a commendation award in 1996 for converting an abandoned tea factory into a unique theme hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Most Innovative Product
The Tea Factory was awarded the “Most Innovative Product” marketed at the TTF fair in Ahamadebad, India in 1998. This unique accolade was conferred on the hotel after evaluating other unique products featured at the fair from many Asian countries.
The Tea Factory Wins RICS Award 2000
The Tea Factory was awarded the prestigious RICS award conferred by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, London In October 2000. This award is presented to encourage and recognize the outstanding achievements and technical ingenuity in the field of conservation and enhancement of built and natural environment.
In evaluating The Tea Factory against entries from all over the world the judges were impressed by the factors such as utilization of an abandoned building by putting it into beneficial use at an economic cost, preventing the building from falling into dereliction, decay & causing damage to the environment and maintaining the entire facade of the original building as well as retaining numerous other features such as the old machinery, driving shafts and pulleys. The improvement of the socio-economic status of thousands of poor villagers living in the vicinity and ingeniously making maximum use of an existing asset by suitably modifying it for its new role in the tourist industry was implemented in a coordinated manner.
Plush wall-to-wall carpeting
Baths / showers with hot and cold water
View of the garden
Television with satellite channels
In room dining
Tea / coffee making facility
Choice of tea in room
Babysitting – on request
Dining at the Tea Factory is an absolute delight; the food is great just as it is everywhere else in Sri Lanka. The resident Chef is a genuine expert in serving up delightful surprises that will keep you asking for more. The hotel will also cater to any special requests and also any specific diets and meal plans.
Mini Golf (9 holes)
Horse / pony ride
Hethersett jungle trekking
Indoor games – carrom, chess, darts, bingo, pool
Booking of sightseeing tours
Pluck your own tea from the Hethersett estate and process it in the hotels miniature tea factory
18 hole golf course in Nuwara Eliya
Products and Services: 57 Well appointed rooms Including 4 Deluxe rooms, Room service, Conference facilities, Gymnasium, Mini Golf with practice nets driving range, Golf, Horse riding, Jungle trekking
Check-in/Check-out Time: Normal Check-in is 12.00 noon and Check-Out is 11.00 a.m. Earlier Check-in or later Check-out time could be requested on a case by case basis and the hotel may agree depending on availability.Address: Kandapola, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka Airport: Colombo International – 190km