- Sri Lanka’s newest city escape
The Granbell Hotel Colombo, Colombo’s newest city hotel, held its grand opening on 3 May, with Chief Guest Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mizokoshi Hideki in attendance together with several invitees, including Belluna Co. Ltd. President Kiyoshi Yasuno.
The Granbell Hotel is owned and managed by Belluna Co. Ltd., a leading Japanese company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The Granbell Hotel adds to a growing portfolio of properties owned and managed by Belluna Co. around the world. It is a sister property of Le Grand Galle.
The Granbell Hotel is a four-star hotel conveniently located in the centre of Colombo’s business district, near the Colpetty railway station on Marine Drive. This location allows for stunning ocean views from the hotel and the property has cleverly utilised its ocean adjacent advantage by having floor to ceiling windows that allow for unobstructed views of the Indian Ocean.
The hotel provides guests with a number of exciting facilities and services, including a rooftop bar with stunning views of the city of Colombo, a rooftop infinity pool, an all-day dining restaurant, a gym, dance studio, spa and yoga, which can be utilised via an exclusive membership programme as well.
Addressing the event, Kiyoshi Yasuno said: “The Granbell Hotel Colombo is not only looking to become Sri Lanka’s newest city escape, but also to revitalise the overall hospitality industry of the nation. The hotel purports significant investment opportunities in Sri Lanka which in turn will also explore opportunities in the hospitality job market.”
Yasuno also noted that the launch of the hotel supported the long-standing friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan, one which dates back over 70 years, adding that while the heads of departments and staff at the hotel would be Sri Lankan, the hotel was also bringing forth Japanese expertise in terms of its general manager and head chef to offer an authentic combination of the two cultures.
The Granbell Hotel was constructed by Hazama Ando Corporation Japan, a leading Japanese construction company, combining Sri Lankan-inspired craftsmanship with Japanese architecture, making it the first of its kind in Colombo. The construction of the property commenced in 2016 with a projection for its opening set for 2020, however, the pandemic proved to be too great of a challenge and the project suffered a near two-year delay.
Granbell was able to have a soft launch in mid-April 2022, and the hotel’s General Manager Toshiyuki Hatanaka shared that they had been experiencing moderate success with bookings, especially from their target market of Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern travellers.
He noted that considering the current situation in the country they have had to make some adjustments when it came to pricing and staying competitive, especially in the online market. He shared that many of their bookings were reliant on online booking agents and so they had significantly scaled down their rates.
According to Manager Sales and Marketing Roshain De Silva, the hotel is also looking at attracting a local clientele. The Granbell Hotel offers a banquet space which can hold 80 people in cluster form and about 120 theatre-style, therefore it can comfortably accommodate small to medium conferences at the property as well as smaller weddings.
De Silva also shared that while the main restaurant currently does not offer a buffet, the hotel had numerous promotions running consistently, including a Mother’s Day High Tea. The Granbell Hotel’s key culinary highlight, however, is its rooftop Japanese restaurant which offers an extensive array of authentic Japanese cuisine.
The hotel’s 292 rooms come with a mix of sea view and city view, with windows that can be partially opened to experience fresh air and a sustainable design concept with open-air corridors on each floor. The comfortable, spacious rooms are equipped with air conditioners, WiFi, USB ports, universal sockets, tea/coffee, and many more amenities. All bathrooms include a bathtub, rain shower, and state-of-the-art Toto Japanese toilets, offering relaxation and excitement to the guests.
De Silva shared that as a new property on the scene, the hotel was receiving many walk-ins. “Many simply wish to try the place out, and because we are new they want to experience something new,” he said, adding that local guests were welcome to access any number of the hotel’s services – they can opt to have a meal and use the pool and they may even book a single night’s stay at discounted rates. Drinks at the bar too come with a selection of discounted offers for local customers.
The Granbell Hotel is also a provider of employment at a time when many establishments have had to close or scale down, employing over 60 well-trained and experienced hospitality professionals to keep the operations at the Granbell running at peak level.
Despite currently operating at one-third of its expected capacity, the hotel has made somewhat of a splash in Colombo, largely thanks to its idyllic location, elegant interiors, and unhindered views of the coast and its surroundings. The rooftop pool and bar is a notable highlight and could become a potential mainstay of Colombo’s nightlife.
While Sri Lanka as a country currently has diverse travel propositions to offer, there is something to be said for the concept of a city hotel – an escape within the city where all you are trying to escape from is just outside, but you are still able to get away, relax, and enjoy yourself, and this is precisely what the Granbell Hotel offers: an inner-city escape.