By Dimithri Wijesinghe
In 1974, Giritale Hotel was the very first hotel in the Giritale area, located in close proximity to the Somawathiya Stupa, the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, all part of our island’s rich iconic history.
On 12 October, Giritale Hotel relaunched their space after having undergone extensive refurbishment and upgrades. They announced their return to the hospitality industry along with their brand new website and the new additions to their establishment.
The new and improved Giritale offers a number of exciting new excursions and services, one major factor being their collaboration with Echo Sri Lanka, which will be handling the “Giritale Activity Centre”, providing its guests with the best possible options when exploring the city of Polonnaruwa.
Wasantha from Echo provided that one of their adventure specialists will accompany all guests in their chosen activities. Courtesy of Sri Lanka Daily Tours – the activity arm of Echo – guests will be provided a number of exciting and fun ways to spend their time in the ancient city. Safaris, canoeing, kayaking and local catamaran rides, fishing expeditions, cycling excursions through the villages, and ATV are a few such experiences.
It is important to note here that the safaris offered are not limited to those usually offered in the Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks but would also include a visit to Angammedilla National Park.
The hotel, like many other hotels in the country, offer an authentic village experience. However, Wasantha insisted that based on what he’s observed, most such experiences tend to be staged and so come off as unnatural, whereas what they offer is truly authentic and will not be in a formulated environment.
It is important to mention that in addition to all these excursions, if any guest wishes to visit Somawathiya Stupa, the staff at Giritale will prepare the traditional “kiri ahara” that is usually taken to the temple to worship, absolutely free of charge.
We spoke to Giritale Hotel General Manager Thyagarajah Ganeshan, who also added that amongst the new additions are 22 newly renovated rooms out of the 42 rooms they have in total. He shared that what usually attracts many guests to Giritale is their Ayurvedic services, in-house restaurant, and the 360-degree panoramic view of the Giritale Lake, which is quite breathtaking.
As their Ayurvedic spa is one of the primary draws of guests who come on full-board basis and also day visitors, the hotel has plans to expand their Ayurvedic spa and treatment area so as to allow large groups to receive treatment in one go. They also hope to construct an infinity pool overlooking the beautiful Giritale Lake. However at present, their swimming pool is situated quite strategically wherein you can enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of the lake and its surrounding vegetation.
Giritale Hotel is also well known for its in-house restaurant and the view it offers through its high glass walls overlooking the Giritale Lake. The food at the restaurant is courtesy of Executive Chef Nandasena and is delicious.
Their true specialty lies in Sri Lankan traditional meals and at Giritale, you are guaranteed to have the best hoppers and fish curry you’ll ever taste.
At Giritale, apart from the fantastic new amenities, the best thing about the place is their service and staff. Ganeshan informed us that the staff all come from surrounding areas of the hotel, are all locals, and operate very much like a family. He said that even when hard times struck Sri Lanka’s hospitality industry during the Easter attacks, they did not let any staff go and continued to provide for them and afford them their due salaries.
This kind of respect and understanding reflects in the service at the hotel with grounded staff who are ready and willing to assist guests with genuine vigor; the experience at Giritale is truly elevated by the service staff.
Giritale Hotel is akin to a home away from home in what it offers to its local guests and is an exciting fresh getaway for foreign guests; it’s a place of comfort and peace, a place you wouldn’t want to miss.
Photos Lalith Perera