|Tangalle, Sri Lanka's secret sanctuary of peace and calm near the southernmost tip of the island|
My hair was in complete disarray as fierce winds lambasted my face along a rocky coastline at what seemed like the end of the world. I could taste the seawater that was everywhere around me, even in the air. Whooshing sound of the wind compounded with the ferocious roar of crashing waves at the cove below my vantage point where I was standing alone. Mesmerized by an endless carpet of blue ocean laid out in front of me and the drama of a clouds above, for a moment I forgot everything else, even the dangerously swaying palm trees behind me. I was at Tangalle, Sri Lanka's secret sanctuary of peace and calm near the southernmost tip of the island.
I arrived at Sri Lanka in the ungodly hours of the previous morning to spend a few days doing nothing but pampering myself and getting some much needed peace (life as an itinerant freelancer is awesome but tiring, believe me!) in association with Hotels.com. Considering I do not accept property reviews unless it's unique (it's been a year exactly since my last), you now know this place is special - the newly opened Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort set inside a coconut plantation on the secluded rocky coast of a yet to be “discovered” town of Tangalle.
Arriving in the summer heat of the tropical island, I feared if my so-called peaceful days would be restricted to taking in the views from the comforts behind glass walls but thankfully the thoughtfully designed vast open air spaces that utilize the local architectural style keeps you cool throughout the day no matter the heat outside! If all else fails, there’s a gorgeous pool that will do excellently.
Waking up to the faint sound of waves one morning, I rushed to the same corner on the edge of the property to witness my most dramatic sunrise of 2016 yet – a fiery red sky above a wrathful ocean. Later, I walked along the wild blue coast that’s unsuitable for swimming (but makes for great images) and plonked myself in the hammock overlooking the sea. Unruly waves hit the unflinching coastline with an admirable tenacity as I let myself drench in the balmy glory of early morning sun therapy. My mind slowly let go of all the worries I carried here with me — my wellness vacation was working well indeed!
But what’s a wellness vacation without a spa? Anantara offers revitalizing spa and ayurvedic treatments for a balanced wellness experience. Whatever remaining worries I had were comfortably forgotten during the 2-hour Anantara Signature Spa experience. I even went into a deep slumber towards the end. And I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or bad that I actually slept through it. Perhaps I needed this vacation more than I knew!
Over lazy lunches and dinners (no breakfast because I’m so not a morning person and since I’m on a do-nothing vacation, I’m not waking up before 10 ;)), I got to sample some of Sri Lanka’s culinary delicacies such as egg hoppers and the delectably spicy red chilli sambal among others. But being a hardcore south Indian perpetually hungry for spices, I was missing the sharp tang of spicy food. I had little idea then that my craving would be satisfied and how!
When we were beckoned to cook our own lunch one afternoon under the aegis of an Anantara chef, I went in with certain cynicism. I am not a patient person when it comes to cooking and supremely disinterested in such activities. So when we went shopping for local spices in the town market of Tangalle, I was left wondering what’s so special about buying Sri Lankan spices from a grocery store like any other. But there in lies the allure of Sri Lanka, those ordinary looking spice packets were anything but. They added such a strong flavour to the lunch we helped prepare that I was crying with delight while the rest were sweating from the heat of the spices! All of this was part of a bespoke cooking class called Spice Spoon’s Sri Lankan Culinary Journey and I can highly recommend this in a heartbeat to anyone intending to get a first hand experience of the delicious Sri Lankan cuisine — just go easy on the spices though, unless you can devour a whole chilli without a cry.
At the end of my stay, Anantara’s Sri Lankan hospitality worked its magic and I was thoroughly rested, well fed and the dark circles under my eyes were probably a shade lighter than when I arrived.