Gal Oya Lodge
Gal Oya National Park
Gal Oya Lodge is one of Ampersand's Top 10 Eco Retreats.
Just outside the remote and almost forgotten Gal Oya National Park lies the beautiful Gal Oya Lodge. This eco-luxe retreat is one of our preferred properties as it offers both adventure and comfort deep within 20 acres of pure wilderness, and has retained an exclusive feel since its opening in 2014.
The sensitively-designed hotel was the first to open in the south-eastern region of the island and successfully blends into its natural environment thanks to its impressive thatched architecture. Bound to catch your eye on arrival is the vast soaring lobby, which leads up to the open-air communal restaurant before giving way to the grounds beyond, where the 10 spacious villas lie scattered around. Reached by lantern-lit pathways, these sit in their own secluded spots and come with private verandas. All have been skilfully designed with wooden-panelling and large floor-to-ceiling glass windows to blend the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, so you feel well and truly immersed in nature here.
The simple yet stylish interior design is spot on; a neutral colour palette creates a soothing effect, while vibrant cushions and botanical paintings provide tasteful dashes of colour. Luxurious touches are also included, from four-poster beds with crisp white sheets to al fresco bathrooms with soft white towels. These indulgent en-suites are a real treat, full of charming design elements like elephant-shaped hand-carved taps and lovely old Sri Lankan rice cleaning bowls for sinks. There is no A/C in the rooms, but you do not need it with the highly effective ceiling fans.
Gal Oya Lodge's picturesque swimming pool is another highlight, as it shines a striking turquoise colour in the day - contrasting nicely against the emerald verdant landscape - and glows invitingly at night - reflecting the flickering lights from the lodge across its glassy surface. It makes for the ideal spot to take a refreshing dip or to simply recline beside while admiring the rugged surroundings. The lobby-lounge is a relaxing area too, where we suggest taking a seat and enjoying a drink (perhaps an Arrack sour) beneath the shade of the thatched canopy, before making your way to the restaurant to dine on delicious local and international cuisine. (Also, make sure to order the egg hoppers for breakfast!).
The namesake of the lodge - the outstanding Gal Oya National Park nearby - is an absolute must-see, with its large lake and swimming elephants. The park is best explored by boat safari, but you can also enjoy jungle drives, mountain biking and nature walks here. If you would like to learn about the local forest-dwelling community, join a Veddha chief (the head of the indigenous village tribe) on a walk through the jungle to gain insights into his use of medicinal plants, as well as his hunter-gatherer ancestors' lifestyle. If you are after a challenge, hike up ‘monkey mountain’ to be greeted by phenomenal panoramic views - but be warned, this is more of a scramble than a climb!
We guarantee that a stay at this wonderful property will be memorable and believe that it's especially well-suited to those with an adventurous spirit who appreciate being completely immersed in nature. The lack of Wi-Fi here really forces you to switch-off and re-connect with yourself and those around you, which in our opinion forms its beauty.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Anonymous, India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India