Sensory Indulgences is Sri Lanka’s latest innovation that offers customised and personalised experiences for travellers. The venture began out of Brindley Wijeysooria’s and his friend Udaya Wickramage’s mutual passion to showcase the true essence of Sri Lanka to the world. After years working at Jetwing Hotels, Wijeysooria struck out on his own and curated his first travel experience in partnership with Airbnb and the Colombo Food Coma, giving travellers an inside look into the amazing street food of Fort and Hulftsdorp.
A self-taught chef and foodie at heart, Wijeysooria loves sharing his passion for all things culinary with others. “We planned on starting a company right after the Easter attack. We were both working at the time; I was working for a travel agent and we were planning on starting an experience company,” he said, sharing his story.
He added that they didn’t have much to go on at all, also noting that there was zero support from the tourism alliance. They pushed through all the obstacles and started adding experience options to their company, but unfortunately, the pandemic left them high and dry.
Currently, they curate experiences focused mainly on tourists, offering them experiences online. Their most recent venture is the Airbnb cooking classes.
Talking about what differentiates them from other experience companies, he said: “When we marketed our experiences, our demographic was about two to 2.5 million people who were visiting Sri Lanka. Now, with AirBnB online, it’s a global venture that everybody can book.”
He added that the amount of bookings they are getting, even from the US, in terms of numbers, is at least three times more than when they did physical experiences. “So it’s actually through the roof.”
Wijeysooria observed that they are bringing in cold hard cash with profit into the country without any issues with quarantining or cost to the country. “We are achieving so much.” Despite bringing in profits to the country, Udaya Wickramage added that the Tourist Board has still not even considered registering their company.
Describing the cooking class, he said: “Because it’s not a repeating audience, it’s a one-off cooking class; we cook the same thing every day.” He added that with this class, he hopes to give his audience an insight into what Sri Lankan cooking is like. The food he teaches them to cook is a classic Sri Lankan meal: Chicken curry, dhal, seeni sambol, and pol rotti.
He also observed that many people who log onto Sensory Indulgences experiences and choose the cooking class have not heard of Sri Lanka, and so it’s a great way to promote tourism and tempt them into visiting our beautiful country. “With this class, I want to spread Lankan culture and explain how things work here by piquing their interest in the country.”
He starts his class at 12.30 a.m. on Friday, as he is catering to a foreign market, and has back-to-back classes until 2 a.m. He informed us that he had just hosted a special class for a dinner crowd in Los Angeles, right before we had the opportunity to speak to him.
He revealed that Sensory Indulgences is also planning on launching an experience on the topic of Ceylon cinnamon, a plantation in Galle, along with an elephant experience.
Signing up for these classes is simple. You can simply log into Sensory Indulgences or Airbnb, and look for it on their “Experiences” tab. Check it out at www.sensoryindulgences.com/experiences/.