Maskeliya Oya Family Park.

It’s good to get out of Colombo. When the weather is as hot as its been over the last few weeks it’s particularly good to go somewhere cool and on this tropical isle that means – head for the hills. In the face of the early years (February-April) heat the retreat to the cooler central hills is a well established ritual. While Nuwaraeliya and Bandarawela/Ella are the classic hill country escapes there are other less touristed alternatives tucked away among the cool, misty peaks…

Hatton has long been a somewhat overlooked upcountry destination but with its verdant tea hills, clutch of rare montane forest, the spectacular Laxapana and Aberdeen falls and the soothing Castlereagh reservoir close at hand, plus the advantage of its relative proximity (3 hours drive) to Colombo, this little tea-town actually stakes a strong claim for your attention. It remains less visited and crowded than the more prominent hill stations and there’s an excellent choice of well-priced but often gorgeously situated accommodation.

The Maskeliya-Oya Family Park Resort is one of these keenly priced gems. Nestled in a deep, impossibly lush valley a few kilometers from Norton Bridge (15km from Hatton town) the modern chalets are comfortable and squeaky clean and, best of all, enjoy views over steep, thickly forested mountainside.

It’s a wonderfully secluded spot and while its not far off the beaten track it feels a million miles away from everything. Their 10 acres of landscaped gardens and plantation ends in a pristine mountain rivulet with deep, clear bathing pools and little cataracts for mini-waterfall baths. 15 minutes away is the perfectly formed Aberdeen falls and the Castlereagh reservoir’s calming, teal-blue expanse is 10 mins in the other direction. This is really a fabulous location and in the midst of it all you get ample hot water, pretty wooden chalets or rooms in the large modern bungalow, very superior meals (the produce comes from their own garden) and such unexpected amenities as a well designed natural-spring filled, swimming pool. It’s rare that a mid-range (Rs. 4000) guesthouse offers a pool, and while it might seem a little chilly after an afternoon hike through the surrounding forest you’ll want nothing more than a dip in the cool (but not freezing) water before throwing yourself under a hot shower…

This is a pretty high order of comfort and luxury for the price, and in keeping with the generally good value the service is better than you’d expect in a remote, mountain valley guesthouse. The manager Ravindra is knowledgeable about the local area and goes out of his way be helpful – it’s worth taking his advice on local attractions and hikes.

Basically, a stunning location, comfortable rooms, good food, service and most importantly excellent value (Rs. 4500 B&B) – for a weekend break in Hatton, this is really a good option.

This post was written from Hatton Town using a Hutch 3G dongle

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