February 2018, and the doors to Kalukanda House have finally opened
After almost a year of flying back and forth to Sri Lanka every 8-10 weeks, the villa is complete and will be welcoming guests from 20th February….www.kalukandahouse.com
This post will reveal a few of the finished photos and tell you what you can do both at and from the villa if you just had a week to spare in Sri Lanka.
Whether you stay with your family or come along with a group of friends -there is heaps to do…
The last few months have been a hectic whirl of finalising details, buying furniture and fixtures and tearing hair out over deadlines – the January visit was booked to style and dress the house – encouragement of that nature re-energised the troops for the final push .
We arrived on 20th January, a sunny Saturday afternoon to stay in the house for the very first time…the whole site was busy until about 15 minutes before we pulled in and crunched our way up the gravel path to the house….
All the furniture that I had bought or commissioned had been delivered and installed according to my instructions, boxes of table lamps were ready to be un-packed, hooks and pictures were waiting to be hung….walking around the house and seeing the beds made up, incense burning, all the lights on and an ice cold Lion Beer being handed to me by our smiling manager – I couldn’t do much beyond gulping it…. and asking for another…it’s difficult to find words in that moment you realise that a concept and building site have finally become a finished home..
So, before telling you what we got up to, and indeed what YOU can get up to at the house, without further ado – here are a few pictures taken by my talented good friend and photographer Janie Airey.
The house is set in it’s own private, gated and secure gardens and comes with a 12m x 5m swimming pool.
The entrance drive is screened from the pool by planting including Palms and Frangipanee.
The rear gardens are a beautiful assortment of slender, tall Palms, Frangipanee, flowers and a shady, open sided cabana nestled in amongst it all..
There is a large double height living space – it’s really nice hanging out in here beneath the custom made lights and fan
There are 4 double bedrooms all with bespoke 4 poster beds, a 5th study/bedroom has a custom made Antique White daybed
The veranda wraps around the house and has a 10 seater dining table 2 planters chairs and antique planters sofa
A teak wood staircase leads to 2 upper double bedrooms with balconies overlooking the rear garden.
I love the antique Siddhartha I bought a while back – he greets you as you enter the villa.
There is a full set of pictures on the Kalukanda House website along with further details on the house and how to book…..but first, read on to see the kinds of experiences you can have staying at the villa and some details on booking..
Tried and tested – what you can do at Kalukanda House
We have landscaped the gardens to work with the existing, extensive natural plantlife. One of the wonderful things about this spot is the enormous variety of trees and the absolutely stunning 15m high rock face that is our back wall. A few trees were cut down in order to create space into the rear gardens and the cliff wall has been cleared so you can see it’s incredible textured composition and beautiful climbing plants.
Friend and guest Dylan Ayaloo was invited to come and check the house out to see how it could work for a yoga retreat. Dylan is an incredible, international teacher and yogi whose classes I used to follow in London. Sadly he has moved away from the London scene but he IS now planning and running international retreats. We will be planning a few yoga retreats with Dylan at the house (watch this space for future retreat information)!
Dylan took Janie and I through an early morning practice – working out beneath the palms and in the midst of all that dappled light was something else; I would encourage anybody who comes here to do just that! Yoga mats are available at the house ready for anybody wanting to practice.
Dylan setting up to take Janie and I through our yoga paces.
Posing for my camera. Dylan is an incredible teacher and yogi – he teaches all levels, so don’t worry if you can’t do this!
The garden is visited by some wonderful local wildlife – and you will spot small families of shy monkeys coming through during the cooler parts of the day. We have coconut Palm trees, Jack fruit and Frangipanee – recent landscaping has also incorporated Heliconea, Bouganvillea, Ginger Lily and more – photos to follow.
There is plenty of opportunity to learn how to surf along the coastline – just minutes from the house. Whether you want a few lessons from a pro, or to just grab a board and go, the water is warm and clear and the waves wonderful for all ages..
Some nice spots to hang out for lunch and play are just a stone’s throw away…with lovely food and a glass of something cold for grown ups too
The local fishermen are just amazing! Many go out through the night and come back with their haul early morning. Kalukanda House has a kitchen where you can ask our chef to take you through a few tips on how to make the perfect Sri Lankan fish curry, along with vegetables and other local dishes.
If you can set your alarm for an early wake up call – it is really worth heading to Mirissa Harbour when the boats come in with their catch – an enormous variety of fish can be bought there and taken to the villa ready to be cooked by you and our chef for dinner…
Mirissa Harbour at 7am – a misty and lively start to the day
A cheeky fisherman..
Weighing in a haul..
Annual Events – Galle Literary Festival
This annual event held every January is hugely popular. Time for us was pretty short as we had plenty of “work” to do finishing the house for the photoshoot, but we took a break one day and watched Sebastian Faulks and Shabrani Basu in conversation – fantastic! Two really live wires talking about the inspiration behind their recent fictional books set in WW1. There were plenty of other interesting talks and events to view over the 5 day festival – worth keeping an eye open for 2019 and beyond if you feel like mixing a little sun and culture..
Sri Lankans LOVE cricket!! It is played on every spare patch of grass. Galle Cricket ground is a breezy tuk tuk ride away and is an international ground where many an exciting match has taken place. This year England are coming to play in October and November – so the Barmy Army and Co will be out in full swing. GCC is a truly stunning ground, set just outside the walls of Galle Fort – a World Heritage site.
(photo by others)
World Heritage Site – Galle Fort
Historic Galle Fort is a beautiful Dutch fort that is teaming with a cosmopolitan crowd, locals and stunning architecture to boot. Bijoux shops selling jewellery, antiques, art and more abound…definately worth a wander along the ramparts and through the lanes where you can stop off for a cup of tea at the Galle Fort Hotel or a delicious ice cream at the Pedlars Inn Cafe..here’s a teensy snippet to give you a flavour for it..
Excursions and other experiences across Sri Lanka
We have a man in Havanna! (well Colombo) who is a Sri Lankan and not only knows the island inside out, but can create an amazing holiday for you if you would like to weave a stay at Kalukanda House in with a further extended stay – details to follow.
And more ! I could go on but will save it for next time..
There are plenty more things I will write about in the next newsletter….there is so much more you can do from the villa – including visiting a tea plantation and having a tea tasting experience, taking a guided tour of Galle Fort itself and even taking a trip on safari to see elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, leopards (if you are lucky) and a whole host of beautiful birds…
After all that, you can also make like us…after our photoshoot day capturing the house in various moments …
…….We celebrated with a couple of beers on the sand! Dylan had posed for me like a trooper, Janie had taken gazillions of photos of the house and we were good and ready to have a few sundowners on the beach at sunset, just 100m from the house. This photo really does not do it justice and I apologise for that….but the sand is literally golden….and that sunset!…this is “our” beach – ok so we have to share it with others but it’s really quiet and feels like ours…
…and SO!….. our doors are open!…
Would you like to stay at Kalukanda House?
The house is staffed with full time manager, full time house-keeper and full time caretaker/gardener. A chef will rustle up delicious meals at the house and our staff are eager and willing to look after you and make sure you have an amazing time.
There is a calender on the website with real time information on confirmed bookings – you will not be able to book through it but you can see which dates are free – just drop us an email or call with any questions you may have and to enquire about a booking to firstname.lastname@example.org
In future posts, I will show you more about what the house can offer as we arrange a few interesting experiences and have a few more ourselves. In the meantime, please feel free to browse the website for a full set of pictures and contact me if you would like to find out more about availability and rates to you.
Villa photography by the lovely Janie Airey www.aireyspaces.com
Yogi and future retreat leader – Dylan Ayaloo www.dylanayaloo.com