T R A V E L | W E A R T O S T A Y
Words and photography: Lee Osborne
Living Heritage Koslanda
For sheer unadulterated escapism, this tranquillity of calm in Sri Lanka’s UVA province, conceived by the late film director Manik Sandrasagra, in collaboration with Channa Daswatte, student of legendary Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, is difficult to top. Having only previously experienced the swaying palms and rugged beaches of the beautiful south, Living Heritage Koslanda was our first taste of proper Hill Country. The sheer magnitude of the property takes your breath away – set amid 80 acres – indeed it has the perpensity to be a National Park of its very own. Koslanda is owned by Expat Brit Lucy Adams who is doing a sterling job of carrying on the legacy of her late husband. It was Manik’s express wish to create a place where the visitor could come “to replenish, to breathe, regenerate and heal” – the gift of serendipity, making fortunate discoveries by accident. And there is no doubt this has been achieved.
Privacy is high on the agenda and it’s little wonder prime ministers and heads of state often seek sanctuary here. Koslanda is most definitely a retreat where you come to down tools and experience the property and its verdant surrounds without ever stepping foot out of the place.
To stay at Koslanda is comparable to having your own 2-tiered house. Bedrooms are super spacious as is your private courtyard/living room just a couple of steps below. And for those that like a plunge pool there’s one of those too, with cold water to reawaken your senses. Rather in keeping with the insoucient vibe, there are no room keys. Attention to detail is paramount: the team collaborated with local craftsmen, in some cases reviving long forgotten construction techniques to ensure that each and every building is authentically Sri Lankan.
Venture up to Koslanda’s show-stopping pool for an early morning dip as the picture book sunrise casts its pink glow as you lean over the edge of the infinity pool and drink in views of paddy fields and rolling mountain scenery. Or simply sit in the shade of its grand Ambalama (a Sinhalese term referring to places originally constructed for pilgrims, traders and travellers to rest in rural locations). If you pine for something a little more energetic, pack a picnic and head to the property’s very own waterfall, about a 20-minute walk away, under the guardianship of Koslanda’s attentive staff. Watch fresh pepper corns being plucked from the estate’s own plantation and toast marshmallows fireside with the children as the sun sets. Or simply kick back on one of the big resting chairs where the armrests extend to support your legs too) and read that book you’ve been promising yourself.
The food here was among the best we had on the trip – conjured up by the youngest chef in Sri Lanka, baby-faced Lasantha Chandra Kumara. Particularly his multi-dish assortment of scrumptious Sri Lankan curries and life-changing key lime cheesecake.
There are very few places on this earth that possess a wow factor like Koslanda. It is a testament to Lucy and Manik’s shared vision that their property epitomises sustainable tourism, whilst respecting and preserving local culture together with the heritage and rituals of the forest. If you value other worldliness, and in my mind, this is something ever harder to achieve in this crazy world we live in, then Koslanda is your unforgettable spiritual sanctuary.
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