25th January 2012, www.ft.lk
High net worth investor Nimal Perera yesterday effected his first major move to become a self-made entrepreneur by buying the famous Tangalle Bay Hotel for Rs. 220 million.
The acquisition of a controlling 70% stake was via Nimal’s newly-floated personal venture N Capital Ltd., on the lines of his recreation firm N Sports Ltd.
Nimal told the Daily FT that his decision to foray into deep south tourism was with a firm belief that Hambantota in particular and the Southern Province in general would become the future centre of tourism, leisure, sports and recreation in Sri Lanka as well as a thriving industrial and service economy in tandem with the Government’s aggressive development plans such as international air and sea ports as well as the extension of the Southern Expressway.
Built to resemble a cruise ship, Tangalle Bay Hotel is a 35-room resort located on a four-acre land area with scenic beauty. It was one of first hotels owned by the late business leader Gilbert Jayasuriya and the 70% stake was acquired from International Enterprises Ltd., owned by his family. The balance 30% stake will be bought by engineer turned entrepreneur Pasan Madanayake.
At present family-owned leisure industry giant Jetwing Group manages Tangalle Bay Hotel after a recent US$ 1 million refurbishment for the 2011/12 winter season. Jetwing will continue managing the resort until required.
Following the acquisition Tangalle Bay Hotel is also set for a major expansion and refurbishment with a further investment of around Rs. 500 million after the conclusion of the winter season. Among plans are building 50 new rooms in a new wing, a presidential suite, a new spa and major refurbishment to make the resort luxurious.
Popular architect Murad Ismail is already on the job, drawing up his latest ideas for what is likely to be a six star resort.
Cash for the acquisition is from the sale of around a 20% stake in George Steuart and Company by Nimal to his co-investor Dilith Jayaweera recently.
The price paid (Rs. 220 million) by Nimal for Tangalle Bay Hotel appears a good buy. Last month LOLC Leisure bought the famous Dickwella Resort for Rs. 1 billion. However Dickwella has 76 chalet type luxury rooms built on a six acre land, also in a picturesque location on south coast.
Tangalle Bay Hotel was part of a unique portfolio of resorts originally owned by industry doyen Gilbert Jayasuriya. Others included Ocean View Ltd., Induruwa Beach Hotel and Hikkaduwa Beach Hotel.
Tangalle Bay Hotel at present boasts a large outdoor pool and an Ayurvedic Treatment Centre. It is located on the beach in the fishing port of Tangalle and features rooms with private balconies and free Wi-Fi in public areas.
Rooms are bright and airy, offering great views of the sea. They are spacious and come with air conditioning, cable TV and a mini bar. All rooms have private bathroom facilities.
Guests can enjoy water activities like fishing and waterskiing or arrange for excursions to cave temples and the Bird Sanctuary Park at the tour desk. For a relaxing afternoon, Tangalle Hotel provides massages and Ayurveda treatments.
Tangalle Restaurant, which faces the ocean, serves both Asian and Western dishes.
The Tangalle Bay Hotel is about 190 km from Colombo and 240 km from Bandaranaike International Airport. With the extension of Southern Highway to Hambantota travel to Tangalle Bay will be quicker ensuring greater traffic of local guests as well.
Following the opening of the first phase of the Expressway, all hotels up to Galle and nearby are enjoying greater clientele. The opening of Mattala Airport in October this year and the completion of the expressway up to Beliatte by next year will considerably improve the appeal for tourism and economic activities in the deep south.
Quicker access to the east coast via Hambantota as well as the latter’s rich diversity as a tourist destination including wildlife will see an exponential growth in tourism in to these areas, according to industry analysts.
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