(Elizabeth East) — There comes a point in the long, hot journey to Trincomalee, somewhere in the last pot-holed, bone-shaking 50km, that you wonder, ‘is this really worth it?’ When you arrive at the gates of Chaaya Blu hotel, the answer is simple – yes. Celebrating its first anniversary today, Chaaya Blu has seen a successful debut year, and it’s easy to see why. From the moment you arrive, you feel relaxed and taken care of. Check in is a breeze, with a chilled towel handed to you as you enjoy the views through the open lobby to the swimming pool and the pristine beach beyond. The hotel itself started life as a 1970s resort, designed to look like a cruise ship. The bare bones of the building are still there, but Channa Daswatte, master architect and former assistant to Geoffrey Bawa, has transformed the hotel into a breezy, cool symphony of white and blue to mirror the colours of the beach outside, with accents of orange meant to mimic the rising sun. The décor is so effective, you know that you’re near the ocean without ever having to look outside. It’s retro-chic, and looks beautiful, but the very modern polished concrete walls of the bathrooms, giving an almost unfinished look, might not be to everyone’s taste.
Rooms are spacious and extremely comfortable – this is a luxurious hotel, but you immediately feel as if you’re at home. If your home is beautifully decorated complete with a private terrace, a daybed and access to the beach, that is. Whereas with many hotels you simply use your room to sleep, at Chaaya Blu it becomes increasingly difficult to leave your own sunlounger except to bob around serenely in the calm sea or cool down with a splash in the swimming pool. You don’t even need to leave the hotel to find good food. Chaaya Blu boasts two restaurants – The Captain’s Deck, an extensive buffet of various delights from Sri Lanka and beyond, and The Crab, an open-air a la carte restaurant that offers seafood specials right on the sand. There’s also The Rum Hold bar, with a pool table, sports on TV and drinks offers to keep you going until late
If you can bear to drag yourself away, however, the hotel provides numerous experiences around Trincomalee for guests to enjoy. There is an on-site dive centre run by the expert staff of Sri Lanka Diving Tours (www.srilanka-divingtours.com), who organise both diving and snorkelling trips to various sites nearby, including Swami rock, local wrecks, and the national park of Pigeon Island. Underwater visitors can expect to see stunning coral as well as a wealth of marine life, from parrot fish to turtles to black-tipped reef sharks. For those who would rather stay dry, there are tours of the main sights of Trincomalee town, or boat trips to catch sight of the elusive Blue Whale.
Wherever you go, coming back to Chaaya Blu is a pleasure. And in May, there are even more treats in store to celebrate the resort turning one year old. Guests can enjoy 25% off at The Crab restaurant, a daily happy hour at The Rum Hold, 15% off on the wine of the day, high tea, daily happy hour ice cream for kids and a free goody bag, as well as 10% off dolphin watching and snorkelling trips. What better excuse to visit the East Coast?