Learn how one of Sri Lanka’s most picturesque boutique hotels has revamped its processes in order to guarantee peace of mind to its guests post-COVID19
The Sigiriya rock fortress in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, is renowned for its frescoes and ancient water gardens. Not too far away from this UNESCO World Heritage site is yet another beautiful water garden, built in more recent times. Perched above the water is a series of 30 exquisitely designed, luxurious, and breathtakingly beautiful villas. Here at Water Garden Sigiriya, we met Shehan Fernando – Head of Sales and Marketing of Union Resorts and Spas, which owns and operates the award winning boutique hotel.
As we admired the view and gazed upon Sigiriya in the distance, we couldn’t help but think about how Water Garden Sigiriya, with its secluded yet beautiful and relaxing atmosphere makes for the perfect quiet getaway to rejuvenate your body and soul. In a post-COVID19 world where distancing is the norm, it ticks all the boxes for the perfect hotel. Glasses of Thambili (King Coconut) water in hand, we began our discussion.
“I don’t think you would find a hotel with such a unique design anywhere else in Sri Lanka”. “We were inspired by Sigiriya which was designed to be an impenetrable rock fortress, and it is simply amazing how so many intricate man-made elements have been seamlessly integrated into a rock and its surroundings. Water Garden Sigiriya has also been designed with a similar philosophy in mind. We wanted the hotel to be at harmony with nature”Shehan Fernando – Head of Sales & Marketing – Union Resorts & Spas
You don’t have to be an architect to see that Fernando is right. The resort is spread out across a vast thirty eight acre plot of land, and guests can choose to stay in any one of the thirty private villas, some of which even have their own plunge pools, jacuzzis, and sun decks. The windows in each villa open out to the manicured lawn and vast outdoor area. If you are lucky, you may even spot a majestic peacock or two roaming around, as you sip your morning cup of pure Ceylon Tea.
Like the rest of the country, Water Garden Sigiriya too remained closed for nearly two months as Sri Lanka took aggressive measures to prevent a large scale outbreak of COVID19. But now that the lockdown is being relaxed gradually, the hotel is preparing to start welcoming guests again. “The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has issued a set of guidelines which all hotels are expected to comply with. But we can proudly say that we have set a much higher benchmark for ourselves, so that we can guarantee complete peace of mind to all our guests” Fernando said, as he showed us around the operational areas of the hotel.
Water Garden Sigiriya’s COVID19 prevention measures begin at the point of check in. “Guests will have to fill in a self-declaration form and their luggage will be disinfected. We also have a few doctors on standby to provide medical attention should anyone need it” Fernando said.
In a post-COVID19 world, the housekeeping department plays an important role in ensuring that a hotel remains clean, safe, and hygienic at all times. Water Garden Sigiriya has tweaked its housekeeping processes to ensure that all touch points in guest rooms such as door handles and counter tops are disinfected twice a day, while effective professional chemicals and cleaning agents are be used wherever possible, even to launder linen. Hand sanitisers are within easy reach as well.
“The safety of our staff and guests is paramount” Fernando told us. “All staff members go through a mandatory health check every day, and have been trained to minimise contact with food and cutlery. This is in addition to mandating that hands be sanitised regularly, and masks and disposable gloves be worn at all times” he said. The hotel’s staff resides on its premises, and the elimination of daily travel greatly reduces the risk of staff members coming into contact with someone who may be infected with COVID19. A policy of serving only in-house guests ensures that dining areas remain free of crowds at all times, further enhancing safety.
The extent to which Water Garden Sigiriya has gone to ensure that it can continue to provide guests with a memorable holiday, while maintaining the highest levels of safety and hygiene is indeed commendable. The Main —Water Garden Sigiriya’s on-site restaurant, is now providing a pan-to-plate set menu along with an a-la-carte dining option so that guests are able to enjoy the restaurant’s eclectic range of organic dishes as usual.
“Our safety and hygiene measures are detailed and comprehensive. We even have protocols in place to help overcome a situation where a guest or an associate needs to be quarantined if they test positive for COVID19” Fernando said. “At the same time, we have tried our best to ensure that the guest experience remains unspoiled. A lot of thought has gone into this, and everybody has worked hard to ensure that the hotel is as safe and hygienic as it can be. We are ready to start welcoming guests from 1 June 2020”
As Fernando’s voice trailed off, we looked around and realised that we had arrived at the Twin Level bar at Water Garden Sigiriya, perhaps the best place in the Central Province to admire the beautiful red and orange hues of the evening sky, which had started to appear as the sun slowly began its descent over the horizon.
And with a glass of Ceylon Arrack in hand, that’s exactly what we did.