21st March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk
‘Sun and sand' is not a ‘must' for hot tourist destinations any more in Sri Lanka. Though Hikkaduwa, Arugam Bay, Unwatuna or Negombo is traditionally identified as hot spots of beach tourism, the latest addition is Ella in the midst of the misty hills.
Ella, off Bandarawela has fast developed into the tourism hub of Uva, with Hikka style small buzzing guest houses and number of diverse restaurants have come up in the area. But what stands tall in Ella is ‘98 Acre Resort and Spa', the latest addition to the Uva Tourism.
Ella is a small village nestled in a valley gazing straight through Ella Gap to the plain nearly 1000m below and across to the glimpse of the Great Basses lighthouse off Hambantota.
This modern ‘98 Acre Resort' is located in a picturesque ninety eight acre Uva Greenland Tea Estate creating a small haven that has an almost perfect climate. It is an ideal holiday destination for trekkers in quest for adventure or the weary travellers simply seeking a peaceful hideout or even a family outing. 'The Resort' is a safe haven for the ones seeking a stand on a scenic 98 acre estate and is surrounded by a stunning landscape. The resort site is liberally endowed with beautiful views and is also in full sight of the ‘Little Adam's Peak' (Punchi Siripade), the pride of Ella.
The tea estate which was once owned and managed by a British national during the Colonial era of Ceylon was then more famously known as the ‘Southerland tea' now named the ‘Uva Greenlands' was eventually passed onto the Uva Halpwatte Estate (UHE) makers of medium elevation pure Ceylon Tea.
The resort is built on an exclusive concept that interweaves pure relaxation with eco friendly tourism. The chic yet modest architectural design by Maithree Dissanayake bears witness to a great passion and concern for eco friendly substance used in its construction.
‘We have used mostly locally available materials for construction and interior. The wood, the ‘Illuk'-straw gracing the thatched roofs and the interior of the villas not only maintain the cool temperature but also adds a truly Sri Lankan look and feel to the resort' said Chamara Abeyrathne, the Director General of the UHE Group and whose brain child is ‘98 Acre Resort'.
Staying true to his pledge towards eco tourism basics, he has arranged golf buggies for the guests to wander about within the 98 acres of its compound.
Opened just twelve months ago, the Resort has luxury and comfort guaranteed beautifully crafted six chalets with 12 rooms (six deluxe and six standards). There is ample space left in between the chalets making it ideal for quiet honeymooners or even for families.
Each Chalet opens up to scenic views of the misty mountains and is equipped with all modern amenities. Each of the deluxe rooms has its own private living area and grants mystique views of the Ella Gap and the Small Adam's Peak hill.
The Standard rooms are bright and able ambiance for the guests and are completed with laminated wooden balconies to the total experience. Amidst other facilities is the elegantly designed pool overlook- deck made of cut stones; where the guests could take a peaceful dip while their kids could enjoy the safety of the baby pool. The resort owned helipad offers the convenience of landing just 5 minutes away from the resort and transport would be arranged via golf buggies to transfer the guests from the helipad. ‘Dining at 98Acres Resort is yet another experience' Chamara said.
The Resort has an open air restaurant that can accommodate up to 50 pax. The highly skilled chef Pradeep puts up an amazing play with the main dishes while the desserts follow dining on comfortable bean bags for a change.
‘We serve any kind of cuisine according to guest's choice. From authentic Sri Lankan dishes to Western, Continental and Oriental cuisine are available at the resort' Chef said.
‘Bird lovers and nature enthusiasts can see 63 species of the birds six precious species endemic to the country' said Indika, the Resort's PR and naturalist. The resort facilitates a detailed bird watching programme or the bird lovers to explore the surroundings guided by Indika.
Apart from that we have archery, biking and all indoor games. We provide bikes for its guests to trail along the woods within the area and explore the tranquil hillside with ease.
‘The guests of the 98 Acres Resort are more than welcome to stroll around the plantation and a visit to the resort owned tea factory would also be gladly arranged for the tea lovers who wish to learn more about the legendary tea story' Chamara explained. The centrally location of the 98 Acres resort makes it an ideal spot for travellers to plan their excursions to the many attractions around the area. ‘We arrange excursions with a guide for the guests to explore the waterfalls (Dunhinda, Diyaluma and Ravana) within the area and are even equipped to arrange helicopter tours, tours to Badulla, Udawalawa, Yala. Adisham in Haputale or even to East coast on request' he added.
The room rates for the coming season range from Rs.16,500/- on FBD basis for standard rooms and Rs 18, 500/- FBD for deluxe rooms