Villa Red.

Villa Red is the private home of boxing/garments magnate Dian Gomes which they rent out as a villa. It’s a fun space (pool, good stereos, TVs) in a fun area (watersports, Lunuganga, turtles) and they serve pretty good food. Since you rent out the entire villa, it makes sense to go with a gang (we think the place can fit up to 10 comfortably), cause it is expensive. The villa costs USD $500-750 (Rs. 66,000 to Rs. 99,000) a night, depending on season.

Dining poolside

The Price

Normally we put the price last, but we’ll do it first here, because it bears some understanding. Rs. 99,000 a night is a lot, but you need to remember that it’s for five rooms. That breaks down to Rs. 13,000 to Rs. 20,000 a room, which is basically exactly the same as a far less awesome double room at, say, Bentota Beach, across the lagoon. In that sense it’s actually worth it, especially if you have a lot of coupley friends.

Price Per Night ($) Price Per Night (Rs) Price Per Room (5)
Sept 1/Oct 31 $500 Rs. 66,000 Rs. 13,200
Nov 1/Dec 14 $600 Rs. 79,000 Rs. 15,800
Dec 15/Jan 10 $750 Rs. 99,000 Rs. 19,800
Jan 11/April 30 $600 Rs. 79,000 Rs. 15,800
May 1/July 15 $500 Rs. 66,000 Rs. 13,200

Note that meals aren’t included, but they only charge you the cost of the groceries. You can bring your own supplies or order off the in-house menu.

The Villa

The dining room

With that out of the way, let’s move onto the villa. The first surprise is how close it is to the Galle Road. Turn right before the Bentota bridge and it’s literally 10 meters away. Once there, however, it’s quite isolated. You can walk straight through and the property has a dock that sits right on the Bentota River, overlooking the big hotels on the other side.

The dock

The villa has a main hall with a sitting area (TV, stereo) and dining room overlooking the pool. Two wings off the main hall have the guest bedrooms. The master bedroom is in a separate building next to the pool.

We’ll get into the bedrooms further, but first, regarding the common spaces. There are portraits of mass murderers like Mao Zedong and Stalin around but they are there, as the disclaimer at the door says, for their aesthetics. They are pretty cool, and if you want to get into the details the bookshelf has excellent and accurate biographies of them.

Beneath the big Mao painting there’s a huge TV (with Dialog TV) and a really excellent stereo. There’s CDs but we plugged in our MP3 players. There’s also DVD players, Blu-Ray we think.

The main sitting room

There’s a front verandah and a small sitting area at the front, but we didn’t use those. The only downside of the place is that the staff is always close by or sometimes in the common areas, so you can’t really relax in them. Even at night the security guard was wandering in and out, which they kinda shouldn’t do in a private villa.

The Rooms

The master bedroom

The master bedroom is by far the poshest and, as an enclosed building, is the most private part of the villa. It overlooks the river and the pool, has its own TV and stereo, a huge bathroom, etc. We actually spent most of our time here.

The master bathroom
A guest bedroom

The guest bedrooms are smaller and have small but well equipped bathrooms attached. They’re basically normal double rooms, except with pictures of Che.

Generally the sheets and all are good though the towels seem to be straight from ODEL, AKA, not plush, if you’re particular about that sort of thing. Good water pressure, hot water, all good. They are also air conditioned, if you need it.

The Food

Mao and crab

We had two meals there, dinner (BBQ) and breakfast. All came with an insane amount of food, a lot of it very good. The dinner BBQ had almost every land or sea creatures I know of – pork, chicken legs, sausages, crab, etc – as well as vegetable lasagna, prawn cocktail, etc.

The BBQ

It would do quite well for 10 people, though we only came with four.

Sri Lankan breakfast

The western food was fine, a bit over-seasoned as Sri Lankans like it, but the Sri Lankan food was much better. We had an excellent breakfast of kade paan, string hoppers, pol roti along with chicken curry, kiri hodi, pol sambol, katta sambol, the works. Two fried eggs also. A good Sri Lankan breakfast is a beautiful thing, and they’ve got it.

If you’re ordering, we recommend going for Sri Lankan fare, but depends on your taste.

Service

Mr. Fernando in the background

The service team is led by one Mr. Fernando, who’s been working at the house for decades, longer than the current owner by far. He knows the villa and the area very well and is very nice. There are a few other guys who cook and clean and a security guard. It’s a small space but pretty full service.

Our only complaint would be, as mentioned, privacy. People would sorta walk through the common areas which led to us spending more time in the rooms.

The Location

Bentota was the original tourist town and, while the beaches are not amazing for swimming, there are beautiful views and more things to do than your average beach town. Villa Red is situated on the Bentara River which has a lot to offer in terms of water sports (jet-skiing, getting towed about in inner tubes), all of which is accessible from their dock.

Nearby, Geoffrey Bawa’s Lunuganga Estate is well worth a visit and you’re also driving distance from turtle hatcheries and Hikkaduwa.

Conclusion

If you’re traveling in packs, Villa Red is a far better value than the package hotels in Bentota. You have full access to the river and watersports and have a really well-equipped villa to hang out in.

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