Two stylish retreats in rural Sri Lanka with a sustainable remit

Slick villas and open-air pavilions are perfect havens to enjoy the local wildlife

The lounge at Santani in Narampanawa, Sri Lanka
The lounge at Santani in Narampanawa, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is now six years into a stable peace – a not insignificant factor in why the country has become a locus of thoughtful, sustainable hospitality. Witness the debut of Santani (www.santani.lk; from $600; first picture), its first dedicated contemporary wellness retreat – the brainchild of a group of recently repatriated young Sri Lankans with degrees from the likes of Harvard and MIT and a collective passion for the preservation of local culture and ecology. Spread across 40 acres outside Narampanawa, in the hills northeast of Kandy, Santani’s ultra-slick villas enlist reclaimed timber (an entire plantation floor’s planks were deployed in their building) to create open-air pavilions for sleeping, meditation and treatments, administered by a team hailing mostly from the US and the UK.

A luxury cabin at Chena Huts in Yala, Sri Lanka
A luxury cabin at Chena Huts in Yala, Sri Lanka

Meanwhile to the southwest, in Yala,Uga Escapes has just opened Chena Huts (www.ugaescapes.com; from $650 all inclusive; second picture); the latest in the sustainable model that this family-owned company promotes is a groovy safari camp with domed, thatched pavilions set in semi-protected wetlands between the famous nature reserve and the Indian Ocean. Besides elephants, the land teems with indigenous and migratory bird species – and the beaches with turtles, which come ashore to nest.

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