In Sri Lanka

Sun beds on the beach are a perfect place to relax and view the gorgeous Sri Lankan sunsets.

Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa is the sister property of Casa Colombo, the award-winning boutique hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. This Mirissa beach property, which is a hundred miles south of Colombo, is also the brainchild of Lalin Jinasena, an architect and designer with a penchant for cutting-edge design and a flair for using eclectic local artifacts and colonial references in his hotels.

Jinasena’s Mirissa property is all about light and color. From the turquoise of the infinity pool, past the swathe of white sand and the yellow sun umbrellas, to the rich blue of the Indian Ocean, it quite took our breath away. And as we feasted our eyes we sank into one of the deep couches in the lobby lounge and were checked in by the smiling head domo, Anushka Shyam ([email protected]; 011-94-773-101-167).

Beach Balcony Suite has a large balcony with a circular daybed and it overlooks the sea.
Beach Balcony Suite has a large balcony with a circular daybed and it overlooks the sea.

Shyam brought us upstairs to our Beach Balcony Suite, which has a large balcony with a circular day bed. This is a great choice as from here you can enjoy both the sunset and the sunrise — yes, it is possible on this part of the coast — or relax with cocktails or over a tête-a-tête dinner. The six suites feature cool taupes and beiges, with brilliant, colorful touches such as the bright yellow cushions on the couch and the psychedelic orange leather sling chairs — the same orange as the tunics worn by Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks. There was a dramatic driftwood sculpture on our bedhead and, in a whimsical vein, Jinasena has added large pillows with beautiful blue eyes that, at turndown, are closed and have long lashes.

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For lovebirds, ask for the Lounge Pool Master Suite, which has a private plunge pool and a spacious open-air bathroom with palms and sand and a double sink. Another good choice is the Beach Access Terrace Suite with its spacious terrace and private beach access. The second floor Leisure Suite and Palm Suite (the only room with no ocean view) connect, which is an ideal combination for family use, as is the two-floor Private Villa with two suites for a total of six guests.

The view from the Lobby at Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa. This beach property is all about light and color.
The view from the Lobby at Casa Colombo Collection Mirissa. This beach property is all about light and color.

All bathrooms have rain showers and locally produced amenities and the suites have mobile phones for 24/7 contact with one of the Mirissa domos or with Resident Manager Daiva Vedeikyte ([email protected]; 011-94-774-209-478). Vedeikyte says November to March is the best time of the year to stay on this part of the coast as the weather is perfect and the water is calm and clear, but suggests booking a few months ahead. Luxury travel advisors can also contact General Manager Horst Schmidtke ([email protected]; 011-94-773-402-408) or Sales Manager Zacky de Silva ([email protected]; 011-94-772-366-163).

The Seafood Market board in the Miris restaurant (Miris is the Sinhala word for red chilli) lists the catch of the day that almost always includes lobsters, prawns and crabs, as well as a variety of delicious tropical fish. Executive Chef Dimuthu Galagedarage ([email protected]; 011-94-773-236-656) chatted us through what was available and it was not easy to decide as we love both crab and lobster. We finally went for his signature dish, Lobster with Exotic Spices and Drumstick Leaves (they taste a little like watercress), which melted in the mouth. And before leaving the next day, Chef Galagedarage presented us with a wonderful lunch of Soft-Shell Crab Salad served with home-made bread and a glass of chilled Sri Lankan Lion lager beer. The menu also has a selection of pastas, tapas and meat dishes and, of course, desserts.

Great food in Sri Lanka is never a problem as there is a dizzying array of local dishes with lots of curries and vegetables and luscious fruits. And Vedeikyte reminded us that close to Mirissa there are two Aman hotels, the Amangalla in Galle and the Amanwella and that their restaurants are well worth a visit. Just down the coast we discovered Zephyr, a little palm-roofed hideaway on a tiny cove where we had a great Mojito sundowner and felt like Robinson Crusoe. There was a great selection of pastas, curries and grilled fish, and even hamburgers on the menu, so we put Zephyr on our list of places to visit again when we return to Mirissa.

Other musts are excursions or sundown cruises on Casa Colombo Mirissa’s private yacht Miss Elle, named for Lalin Jinasena’s beautiful wife Michelle. And you can ask for Chef Galagedarage and a Casa domo to accompany your A-listers on the high seas. Whale-watching — there are more than 600 cetaceans permanently in these waters — kicks in from November to April and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as is a day spent in nearby Yala National Park. So if you have clients who cannot get enough of nature, ask Anushka Shyam to arrange a car and driver and set up a safari in this beautiful coastal park which is home to an arresting number of elephants and leopards.

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