The amazing story of how one of Sri Lanka’s best-know luxury eco-resorts came about began with Jetwing Hotels boss Hiran Cooray visiting the London Wetland Centre in the UK.

“I think we can do this”, he said to his companion, world-renowned naturalist and writer Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, author of many books on Sri Lanka’s rich and varied wildlife.

And so the Vil Uyana project was born on an uninspiring piece of dry scrubland near Sigiriya, itself home to the famed Lion’s Rock Fortress familiar to thousands of world travellers.

The full story is told in a series of articles by Gehan on the Wall Street International architectural and design website—beginning with first having to create the actual wetland from scratch.

As a result, this private nature reserve of lakes and reed beds now hosts 36 individual chalets set amongst waterways, marshland, gardens and acres of commercial paddy fields.

Says the Vil Uyana website: “This resort creates a unique approach to eco-living in an atmosphere of rural simplicity combined with the lavish comforts of the present day to experience a stay hard to forget.”

Indeed, especially to those familiar with its history, which Gehan details with flair and insight—and his considerable expertise, beginning with:

London Wetland inspires a luxury hotel

Part One. The Making of Vil Uyana.

Gehan, an avid birdwatcher, had been a regular visitor to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) sanctuary west of London, where the wetland centre was later created.

He writes of a visit by Jetwing senior directors to inspect the land at Sigiriya: “The site scored zero. It needed something done. A quite reflective silence fell upon the room as everyone started to think.

“I suggested we follow what the London Wetland had done and create a wetland nature reserve and build a luxury hotel in it. Much to my surprise the idea was eagerly seized by Hiran and Shiromal, Ruan Samarasinha and the others.”

Read the full article here.

Finding an Architect.

Part Two. The Making of Vil Uyana

Read the full article here.

Construction begins

Part Three. The Making of Vil Uyana

Read the full article here.

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