Ceylon Tea Trails
Resplendent Ceylon, part of Relais & Chateaux, has a circuit around the tea hills with a few properties to rest your head. The first, Tientsin Bungalow is just south of Kandy. Make sure to book in time with their resident tea planter to walk around jungled trails and tea-blanketed hills and explore the age-old tea-making process from beginning to end. Pick tea and learn about the conversion from green to black tea. The British-designed machinery is an artisanal piece more than 100 years old. Their spa selection is of course tea based. Think green tea massages followed by tea-infused cuisine, including the curries. And when night falls, retreat to the owner’s personal suite, the Stewart Suite, with a fireplace lit at turndown. Spend a morning enjoying colonial delights such as high tea and croquet on the lawn, darling. Then it’s time to head south.
Situated on palm-fringed shores east of Galle, this Lek Bunnag designed property with just 39 private retreats is sprawled across 12 manicured acres with quintessential Sri Lankan views across the ocean. Make sure you’re in one of the 14 pools around the property when the sun dips down – it’s breathtaking. For what they call the ultimate Ceylonese indulgence – therapists will come to your villa for a spa day. Think Sri Lanka spice rubs made from clove, nutmeg, sandalwood and sweet orange.
Heritance Tea Factory
Nuwara Eliya is worth exploring, as Sri Lanka’s high grown and highest-quality tea region. This region produces light-liquoring, aromatic teas. Drive through tea fields and take in breathtaking views of the lush Ceylon tea country. The Heritance Tea Factory is a renovated tea factory surrounded by gardens and a perfect hotel for a night spent in huge beds. The spa has a special Indian oil treatment that combines massage and oil therapy for the ultimate detox.
After all that tea rejuvenation, it is time for yoga and fresh ocean air. Start on the eastern side and make your way back to Colombo, the finest way to see the coast.
Part of the Uga Escapes, this beach property is nestled between dunes and trees. The best part is the easy access to some of nature’s most beautiful treats – from sea turtles laying eggs by moonlight, to elephants wandering around the reserves. The private pavilions with views across this wilderness are understated and feel like a heavenly remote escape. The best place for dinner is at the bonfire on the beach. But don’t forget to first book some spa time – body treatments and massages in your little beach hut couldn’t be more perfect.
The Aman resort along the southern coast is where I stop for complete restoration. It’s the most peaceful part of the coastline with long beaches, forever sunsets and unspoilt nature all around. One of the highlights is the Mulgirigala rock temple set on a butte rising from the forest floor. It’s here where I find some time for meditation and a quiet moment to contemplate the world of tea and the universality of the drink. From American ice teas, to the Pu-er of China, the herbal teas of Africa and South America, the intricate art of tea is cherished the world over, particularly in Japan, Russia and England.
Reef Villa & Spa
This property, just outside Colombo, has the romance of Colonial design with access to temples and moonstone mines. The old- school ocean suites have four-poster beds and verandas for private dining. Explore the artifacts and art displayed around the property before laying by the pool. Afterwards, indulge in afternoon tea or a cocktail at the traditional Ceylon style Plantation House, the epitome of old world charm. Bury your nose in a book, or simply admire the soothing surroundings of its open terraces, water gardens and lily ponds.