Ceylon Tea Trails
Resplendent Ceylon—from ethical teas to a culturally-conscious luxury hotel brand in Sri Lanka
When the US business magazine Forbes writes a glowing 3,000-word story about a Sri Lankan hotel chain you can be sure it’s more than just a gratuitous pat on the back.
Writes Jeanine Barone: “The family’s commitment to ethical tea, Sri Lanka, its people and the environment is paramount … and this is evident in their three hotel properties that allow guests to be immersed in this emerald isle’s myriad treasures.”
Ceylon Tea Trails: “Once neglected, colonial-era tea estate managers’ homes were transformed into five exquisite individual bungalows, each with a butler, house attendant and chef, set among the bucolic tea fields”.
Cape Weligama: “Spread across a headland that overlooks the Indian Ocean on the southwest coast, the undulating property is blanketed with colorful flower gardens and dotted with villas that are snuggled in the foliage”.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge: “Set on an undeveloped coast of sand dunes, golden beaches and clusters of boulders, and adjacent to Yala National Park, this could be thought of as an eco-glamping experience”.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge
Says Fernando: “When we started out, I never wanted to create a brand. I wanted to build individual resorts. There is no commonality in design among the three resorts.
“Rather, the common thread is service. The food is different among the three but the quality is high.
The future of Sri Lanka itself is a major priority: “Taking care of our immediate environment is critical and a core part of what we do. It comes naturally from what my father has ingrained in us.”
Merrill J. Fernando
Fernando stressed that philanthropy is key to his business model. “In the early 2000s, a foundation was formulated so that we could give back in a structured manner.
“A significant amount of the earnings automatically goes into two entities: The MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. That money is spent by the trustees in special projects throughout the country. Both of them are the most active private foundations in Sri Lanka.”
Finally, he says, “a visit to Sri Lanka isn’t complete without seeing the Tea Country. The country’s commerce and economy began in the Tea Country”.
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