Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka

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Photo of Sri Lanka by Joanna

Sri Lanka has been a dream destination of mine for years. Ever since first seeing photos of the enchanting mountainous rail systems and the raw untouched beaches, I wsnted to visit. When the Shangri-La's Hambantota Resort and Spa invited me to visit their newest beachfront hotel I could barely contain my excitement! This was my third time visiting a Shangri-La location and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end the trip than wiggling my toes in the Indian Ocean. The more I researched Sri Lanka, the more I wished I could have spent more time there as it truly is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever laid my eyes on. I highly recommend staying for atleast two weeks.

From the minute I stepped off the plane in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city, I felt like I had landed in a National Geographic documentary. We were greeted at the airport by our driver who drove us down the coastline of the Island to the resort. We were told during the drive that usually when people visit and stay with the Shangri-La they typically fly into Colombo and spend a night or 2 at the Shangri-La Colombo hotel before transferring to the beach hotel in order to see both locations (the urban city of Colombo and the more rural southern part of the country.) Our drive was filled with cultural and historical information provided by the driver and we were treated to a mini tour while zipping along the newly built highway. Situated on the southern tip of the Island, the Shangri-La Hambantota is located along the ancient spice route used by early European traders exploring the Orient. Surrounded by beaches and nature preserves, the Shangri-La Hambantota allows it’s guests to explore one of Asia’s most interesting and historical destinations.

Pulling into the resort’s incredible palm tree lined entranceway was a breathtaking experience. It felt like we were driving up to a tropical palace with literally thousands of palm trees decorating the expansive fully landscaped estate. A world class golf course winds it’s way through the grounds providing beautiful scenery set against the crashing waves of the ocean. We were immediately greeted by our host who allowed us to check into our room before giving us a full tour of the property in order to make sure we were able to fully enjoy everything the hotel had to offer.

The hotel has three incredible pools, two for families and one adults only pool. Each of which having it’s own food options and poolside refreshments. On the first day, we relaxed by the main pool and had the most delicious king coconuts paired with local treats. I was smitten with the flavor combinations and couldn’t get enough of the use of spices in their cooking. I brought back a local cookbook and have been honing my Sri Lankan cooking skills ever since ;-).

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

Essential: For Love and Lemons Limonada Skirt from Revolve

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

Chi Ayurveda Spa:

After first seeing the spa during the tour of the resort I couldn’t wait to get back for a treatment. Walking into Chi Ayurveda Spa felt like entering a vacation from within a vacation. The entrance to the spa is right off one of the main hallways in the resort. However, once you step through the entranceway you are transported to a place of healing and tranquility. The spa features twelve treatments rooms, five of which come with a private outdoor cabana. The spa attendants are trained in ancient healing therapies and the spa also has a staff of trained doctors able to personalize and customize your spa treatment combining traditional herbal practices with modern techniques. Sri Lanka has a rich history of using Ayurvedic medicine, which is one of the world's oldest medical systems dating back 3,000 years. Ayur, meaning life and veda meaning knowledge combines the word Ayuredic and is rooted deep in their culture. Before my Swedish Massage, I met with a doctor who took my blood pressure and listened to my heart. He also listened to my concerns and needs and made sure that my treatment complemented what we discussed. I felt very at peace and my massage was exactly what my body was craving.

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

Safari:

The Hotel arranged for us to do an early morning Safari at Udawalawe National Park.

The park, was a true natural habitat spanning over 1000 acres of wilderness where all manner of animals were free to roam at their leisure. We were restricted to driving on small roads criss-crossing throughout the safari and eager to come across wildlife. It was actually quite funny because right when we got to the entrance there happened to be a beautiful elephant having it’s breakfast on the side of the road. Assuming that this was an indicator for how many elephants there were, I wasn’t worried about taking any photos, instead I took in the moment, assuming there would be many more in my path. Safe to say that almost 2 hours later and not a single elephant sighting, I thought I’d missed my chance and had to content myself with seeing peacocks and monkeys (which for the record were everywhere). Luckily, just as we were about to turn back and start heading out of the park, a whole herd of elephants crossed our path migrating through the park. Suddenly our truck was surrounded by maybe 10 elephants of all sizes ranging from little babies to fully grown adults. We parked our truck and just watched them in their natural habitat in awe of their size and grace. A few of them even came within a few feet of the truck as they walked past and I couldn’t help but be amazed by their presence. This excursion was absolutely worth the 5:00 a.m. wakeup and long drive to the safari park. I have never seen anything so spectacular and feel blessed to have been able to treasure this experience.

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

I also was lucky enough to visit the Elephant Transit Home located near Udawalawe National Park. This is a elephant orphanage center for young elephants to be rehabilitated before being set free back in the wild :)

Activities:

Shangri-La Hambantota has probably the most amount of activities I have seen provided by any other resort. There is such a large variety of options to choose from that are friendly to all ages! The 18 hole golf course is the first in Sri Lanka and is challenging yet user friendly. The resort also has an outdoor waterpark, a 7-meter high trapeze, and a artisan community site filled with local handicrafts. The guests even have an opportunity to interact with the craft mans and observe them in action!

Shangri-La Hambantota launched Elephant R.U.N. in 2015 which is a competition for Sri Lankans to recreate elephant sculptures using discarded and reused materials. There was beautiful art throughout the entire resort built by locals and is just one example of how the hotel integrates itself with the local community. I really admired this in each of their locations.

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

Dining:

The Shangri-La Hambantota has two mains restaurants, Bojunhala an all-day-dining restaurant featuring Sri Lankan cuisine as well as a variety of international dishes and Sera. Sera is a South East Asian restaurant that has freshly prepared dishes inspired from countries such as Thailand, China and Malaysia. Many of which were prepared which you watched. I could taste the freshness in the food and could tell that it came from locally grown produce. I noticed that Sri Lanka seemed to have a more diverse blend of flavors in their dishes. I was told by the staff that this goes back to Sri Lanka’s historical prominence as a trading hub and that Sri Lanka was introduced to flavors and spices from around the world that have now been integrated into their culture.

​Bojunhala was where we had a delicious breakfast every morning that left me full till mid day! I really enjoyed being able to taste many Sri Lankan dishes as well as having the option to choose from other dishes from around the world.

​Gimanhala was one of the lounges and was a wonderful place to relax and rejuvenate. The lounge overlooked what felt like miles of sweeping coconut trees and the energy itself was therapeutic. The ideal place to have a fresh fruit drink or some afternoon tea. At nighttime, they offered Shisha and live music from a local cover band which was the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of exploring! Ulpatha was another lounge located off the golf course that offers snacks and cocktails.

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna

Premier Ocean Room:

Our room was delightful and I would highly recommend choosing it! We had panoramic views overlooking the ocean and it was only a short walk away from the pool access. I loved waking up every morning to the sound of the waves crashing around me. There was also an outdoor balcony that was a perfect place to take in the scenery. This was where I enjoyed my morning tea :)

​The decor was elegant and had a Sri Lankan influence! I really love it when there is character from the local community inside a room and the Shangri-La Hambantota did a lovely job incorporating this. Some of the features included a deep soaking tub, a large walk-in shower, and designer bath amenities.

​We were also given a tour of one of the specialty suites that was very luxurious and accommodating. Some of the following photos are from that suite.

Thank you so much Shangri-La Hamabantota for such a lovely stay! I highly would recommend the resort when staying in Sri Lanka. As always, all my opinions are honest.

- Jo

This blog was originally published on The Essentialist.

Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
Photo of Shangri-La Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa | Sri Lanka by Joanna
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