RIU with a view

A star treatment in the Emerald Isle

Hotel Review

April 24, 2019

/ By / Sri Lanka

India Outbound

March-April 2019


Set on the rugged shores of Ahungalla, Riu is all about luxury, leisure and unforgettable experiences.

Located about 100 kilometres (km) south of the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Ahungalla is a beach that is becoming increasingly popular with locals and tourists alike. Rough waves smashing on rocky outcrops, in sharp contrast with a vast expanse of white, fine sand and a large number of coconut trees making a buffer with the outside world. This is Ahungalla that promises relative privacy, barely 90 minutes from the international airport.

For tourists, the beach has become even more attractive with the arrival of the first luxury hotel in the area. Riu, a Spanish chain of luxury hotels, recently opened its first property in Sri Lanka. Shaped like a horseshoe in order to assure the magnificent views of the Indian Ocean from practically anywhere in the hotel, which has a fine, white sand beach stretching over 2 km. The inland view is an equally long stretch of palm trees and lush green forests that have kept alive Sri Lanka’s sobriquet of the Emerald Island.

An all-inclusive stay

The hotel is a large one, with over 500 rooms, several restaurants and bars as well as a night club. The resort organises several activities that can keep the guests busy all day long, without feeling the need to venture out. Some of the rooms are equipped with extraordinary facilities like whirlpool bath on balcony or terrace, with a lovely view of the Indian Ocean. One can also simply lounge and soak in the tropical sun, sipping a cocktail.

With modern designs and equipments one can expect in a luxury hotel of today, Riu offers an all-inclusive package for guests to allow them to focus just on fun and frolic.

“Already very popular with our Asian guests, the all-inclusive package is being increasingly adopted by our Indian guests as well,’’ Richa Khera, business development manager India, Riu Hotels & Resorts tells India Outbound.

For honeymooners or couples, or those coming for anniversary, the resort is a splendid stay on the west coast beach that offers romantic customised deals. What would be better than a bottle of cava in your room, she adds, recommending a ‘Senior Suite with sea view’ for romantic stays, where apart from the complete room facilities, the couples can enjoy a Jacuzzi on the spacious and private terrace with a bottle of wine.

Pampered yet fit

(Left) Theme based barbecue restaurant Saute’at RIU Sri Lanka; (Right) Enjoy beverages at the poolside bar Flamingos

(Left) Theme based barbecue restaurant Saute’ at RIU Sri Lanka; (Right) Enjoy beverages at the poolside bar Flamingos

With good food and beverages and little to worry about, staying fit during a vacation is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for today’s travellers. Riu attempts to address this challenge through its services and activities. The hotel’s Renova Spa, with well-trained staff, offers a wide variety of wellness and rejuvenation treatments. With a steam bath and hot tub, the spa offers massages, facials, and body wraps.

For the fitness freaks, the hotel offers numerous options like an in-pool aqua aerobics session or sign up for different classes. In addition to the well-equipped gym, steam bath, whirlpool bath and three stunning swimming pools, the hotel has group fitness activities such as yoga, water gym, beach volleyball, water polo and pool volleyball. The hotel also has facilities like a children’s pool and water slides for the young ones.

Pleasing the palate

The focus on fitness need not worry the gourmands, for the hotel has plenty to spoil them as well. It has two main restaurants, RitiPanna and Ceylon, that come with a buffet with over 180 dishes, from Sri Lankan and Indian to Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Those looking for a la carte dishes can head to the three speciality theme restaurants to choose from, Kaori with Asian menu, La Forchetta with fine Italian dining and Saute for the barbecues.

Of course, during the day and evenings, one can also enjoy beverages at the poolside bar Flamingos or the Purple Lounge, a bar with a terrace view. In addition, there is a lobby bar, Nuwara and those looking for late-night action, the After Hours bar stays open nearly till dawn.

Vegetarians need not worry as the choice is equally impressive in all restaurants and in addition, the hotel says it can cater to special requests like Jain meals when requested in advance. Guests can also enjoy special feasts on festivals like Diwali. Those looking to savour local culinary delights won’t be disappointed either as the hotel menu includes at least eight local dishes during all three meals. Some of the popular ones include kehelmuwatelata (banana pod tempered), kirimangngokka (cassava white curry), ambulthiyal (yellowfin tuna), issokangkungtheldala (tempered chili prawn with kangkung).

All night long

For those looking for nightlife and entertainment, Riu has numerous evening activities, including live music and professional shows as well as a nightclub. “In the evenings, we have international bands playing different types of music, dances and other performances, giving its guests something new every time and apart from its own professional dancing group, we also hire a famous and well-talented dancing group from Colombo twice a week, featuring traditional and international dances,” says Khera.

The hotel also organises special events for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Orthodox New Year, Chinese New Year, and Sinhala and Tamil New Year bringing together the charm of coastal towns, local culture, shopping, wellness. On the southern edge of the beach lies an impressive piece of Sri Lankan art in the form of the 12th century Galapota Temple. Less than a 10-minute drive from the hotel is a sea turtle sanctuary at Kosgoda where the local fishermen bring turtle eggs, where the chicks are looked after. There is also a spice garden in Ahungalla that has plants, herbs, and spices with healing qualities. To move around the hotel, there are numerous rickshaws available for hire. For shopping, don’t forget to look for local jewellery, Ceylon tea, dried tea leaves in different intoxicating flavours such as jasmine, chocolate orange, and more.