24th August 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com
Aitken Spence, one of Sri Lanka's top hotel firms, has resumed talks with Six Senses Spas, an international spa chain, on building an up-market resort on the south-west coast, a senior official said.
Aitken Spence Hotels managing director Malin Hapugoda said the project is to come up near Ahungalla, in Beruwala, a prime beach resort where it has two properties, Heritance and Neptune.
"They (Six Senses) are keen to re-look at it and now we're having talks to restart the project," he told LBO.
He said the project had been mooted several years ago but shelved because of the island's ethnic conflict.
But the 30-year war ended in May when government forces defeated the Tamil Tigers and there was an immediate revival in tourist arrivals, with economic growth also expected to pick up.
Aitken Spence already has a tie-up with Six Senses which operates spas in the firm's Heritance Kandalama hotel in the north-central region and at the Tea Factory, a hill-country hotel.
The new project with Six Senses, originally billed as Evason Hideaway, Ahungalla, is for a combination of beach villas and several villas on stilts on a private island in the nearby backwaters of the Madhu Ganga river.
"Next to Heritance Ahungalla we have 10 acres and 27 acres on an island in Madhu Ganga, very close to Ahungalla, where we had planned a very up-market resort there with Six Senses," Hapugoda said.
"Plans for the project had been finalised but it was stalled due to the situation in the country."
Construction was originally scheduled to have commenced in 2010.