Even before it opened in December last year, the luxurious Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle resort was being hailed by the New York Post in its 2016 list of the world’s top ‘must visit’ hotels.

“At least one thing they all have in common? We’re ready to book a room at each and every one,” the Post said, adding that “this grand resort … is the doorway to the open beaches of southeast Sri Lanka”.

US news network CNN also included the resort on its list of “11 hotels opening in 2015 we can’t wait to check into”, while a host of other media, from travel and lifestyle magazines to Architectural Digest, sang its praises.

As well they might. The resort’s 120 rooms and 32 stand-alone pool villas, six restaurant and bars, spa, 35-meter pool, gym, and tennis and badminton courts pitched new standards of high-end engagement.

On the fringe of a 42-acre coconut plantation on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, Ananatara’s secluded stretch of private beach figures in possible future plans to offer private villas for sale to ‘high-net-worth’ individuals.

It is an arrangement increasingly common in many Asian tourist destinations, and one which the Anantara management believes is one of the keys to the future of tropical tourism.

Owners and hotel guests alike will be able to enjoy one of the resort’s key features—the ‘guru experience’, a hallmark programme in which experts are on hand to help and advise guests across a range of activities, from arts and crafts to cooking.

Examples are wine and tea experts, local artisans demonstrating curd making and wood carving, and ‘spice spoons’, a cooking class where the chef takes guests to the local market, after which they cook an authentic local meal together.

Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times quotes Anantara spokesman Abbas Esufally as saying that “this is unlike any other 5-star property. This is an incredibly unique site, a premium itself”.

A possibly unique feature is it focus on staff comfort and welfare. Says Esufally: “Only a happy staff will provide service with a smile and go that extra mile to make sure guests are comfortable and all their needs met.”

He believes that with the rapid changes happening across the world’s hospitality landscapes, and as guests’ expectations evolve and become more focused on the total experience, this emphasis on human resources will pay dividends.

The hotel has over 230 staff, plus 30 executives with international experience, including having worked for hospitality big names such as the Ritz Carlton, Jumeirah, Marriott and Rotana. Twenty per cent are local, and 24 per cent are female.

This new and exciting development in Sri Lankan high-end hospitality opened with huge fanfare and expectations that it will be in the vanguard of tourism development on the island. So far, so good.

Check out the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle website here.

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