This review was written by Sunil & Wendy, who were in Mannar working with the community and Natura, a local company which is working to empower women hand-weavers.
Mannar Island was off limits for many years. However, the recent reconstruction of
the direct train line from Colombo Fort to Thalaimannar could turn it into a more popular destination for tourists. It’s clear that the team
at The Palmyrah House believes in the potential of Mannar as a tourist
destination. They have embraced the island’s flora and fauna, and created an eco-friendly boutique hotel that offers a memorable experience.
Palmyrah House offers five rooms. If you want to get away from it all, this is a pretty great spot. It has a lovely, green garden to kick back and relax and take in the tranquil
surroundings. There’s also different seating areas for reading or remote
working, if you must, with an unlimited supply of tea available.
There’s a large infinity swimming pool overlooking the garden, nature pond and
nearby fields and a games pavilion for some competitive evening fun.
Mannar Island is on the migratory path for thousands of birds that arrive
during the wet season, so if you are an avid bird watcher or just a
nature lover, Palmyrah House is great spot to start and end your day. Wet
season runs from November to February. Although we visited in August, when there are fewer birds, the donkeys strolling in the gardens and the playful lizards in the garden were enough to charm us as we relaxed over breakfast.
The beaches are a short bike ride away, and should you wish to explore a
bit further by bike, Mannar is encouragingly flat. If you are looking
for something entirely different and are interested in women empowerment
and local entrepreneurship, contact Noel at Nucleus Foundation to check
if he’s available to introduce you to the lovely local women hand-weaving
colourful bags and baskets.
The rooms are basic and comfy with simple yet tasteful interiors and high ceilings. They come with powerful ACs that negate the humidity so that you can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.
If there’s one thing we appreciate this far from Colombo, it is an impressive bathroom. Palmyrah House offers exactly that. Hot water in the shower comes from the environmentally-friendly solar power set up, which means hot showers are nearly always guaranteed.
The food at Palmyrah House was delicious. In the manager’s words,””All
recipes are unique and not to be found anywhere else in the world””.
Breakfast was served on the first floor veranda overlooking the garden and
included dhal and fish curry, roti, pancakes, a smoothie, fruit, toast,
butter and homemade marmalade as well as aloe vera jam. Excellent variety to say the least, and good execution across the board.
Dinner was equally tasty. We were served fish curry, devilled onions, a crisp salad, roti and a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream as dessert. You wouldn’t expect such variety from a boutique hotel, but Palmyrah House really impressed us when it came down to the quality of the individual elements.
House is truly ‘away from it all’. At 14k from Mannar Town, it’s not
easy to reach if you don’t have your own transportation. Pusalai train
station is a 15-minute three-wheeler ride away.
A double room starts at USD$170 (approx. Rs. 22,900) per night, but Palmyrah House justifies the price by being an
exclusive and wonderful place to stay at. The hotel is a great base to
explore the island and district, providing you have your own
transportation. The rooms are comfortable, the garden, swimming pool and
seating areas provide ample space to relax and the food is traditional
yet unique and fresh.