For a short, dreamy break, Sri Lanka’s Bentota makes for a perfect getaway

Where can you go for a short, three-day break, say a long weekend that serendipitously pops up on your calendar? You’re in Chennai or somewhere in south India and the question looms: how do you make the most of this rare luxury? A hill station? The tourist spots are crammed. A city break? Not relaxing enough. An out-of-the-way eco resort? Often, the time taken to get there eats into your holiday. 

For me, Sri Lanka ticks all the boxes: it’s close enough to south India to make for a quick flight, it can accommodate diverse interests ranging from history to wildlife; from food to culture, and it offers, in spades, my personal must for a real holiday – the beach. 

On a recent trip, I was at Bentota, a resort town on the island nation’s southern coast, about an hour and half away from Colombo. Getting there presented no issues: a pleasant flight on Sri Lankan Airlines to Colombo, and from there, Bentota is about an hour and a half’s drive away.

Believed to have been named after a mythical demon, ‘Bem’ who ruled the river banks ‘tota’, a portion of this coastal town, once a fishing/farming village, and now popular with tourists, is sandwiched between the river and the sea.

A view of the ceiling at the reception of the resort, done in rich batik, envisioned and brought to life by artist Ena de Silva | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Cinnamon Bentota Beach, the resort I stayed at, embraces you with its stunning Geoffrey Bawa architecture, the pops of art work scattered across the property, and everywhere you turn, the soothing murmur of water. The views from the rooms at the resort are unbeatable: open the front door for a glimpse of boats bobbing on the lagoon; open the casement windows opposite, and watch the waves of the Indian Ocean crash.

The thing about holidays is that they mean something different to every person who goes on them. Bentota manages, however, to meet almost all criteria: want to lie on a pool/beach lounger sipping refreshing drinks with an occasional dip? Check. Want to sample different kinds of food? Check. Want to go for energetic walks in the morning, indulge in water sports in the afternoon and kick back in the evening? Check. Want to learn a little about local culture through perhaps a traditional mask painting class? Check. Want to have the children occupied while you revel in the luxury of doing nothing? Check.

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