The legend of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa lives on at the Anantara Kalutara hotel
Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s legendary architectural genius hailed as the ‘father of tropical modernism’, was the master who created a string of jewel-like boutique hotels throughout the island.
But, says Nayantara on the Outlook Traveller website, it is the Anantara Kalutara that is exceptional, both literally and figuratively—one of the last projects Bawa began work on before a stroke in 1998 left him incapacitated. Bawa did not live to see it through to completion (he died in 2003); that task was left to his protégé, Channa Daswatte.
Writes Nayantara: “As GM Giles Selves escorted me from the work-in-progress that is The Geoffrey Bawa Library—a soothing space filled with Bawa’s architectural drawings (and which Selves hopes will eventually house Bawa’s personal collection of books)— and walked me from one wing to the other through the overhead bridge, the giant jigsaw puzzle began to fall into place.”
Reminiscent of Bawa’s Lunuganga estate
She notes that the bridge connecting the two halves of the hotel “is immediately reminiscent of the narrower, more modest one Bawa built over a public lane that bisected his own famous country estate, Lunuganga.
“A visit to Lunuganga is imperative for anyone interested in architecture, inventive use of space, or simply natural and built beauty. The estate, now managed by a trust, is public monument, hotel and a study in beauty.”
‘Everything I ate, was beyond reproach’
Of Anantara Kalutara itself, she writes that “it wasn’t till my final evening at the Anantara Kalutara resort that I finally stopped walking around in circles asking for directions to my room; only then did it all finally click into place.
“But I did quickly grasp that this was a beautiful place, set in an astonishingly perfect locale. Kalutara town is just about an hour’s drive from Colombo airport, down the Southern Expressway—Sri Lanka’s tourist highway.
But “far from least important reason this is an excellent resort is, of course, its food. Everything I ate, from the dreamy rib-eye steak (oh, beef) at Acquolina to the Thai at Spice Traders to the Sri Lankan breakfast at Olu, was beyond reproach.”
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