Amaya Resorts & Spas is a well known chain of hotels, formerly known as Centara, and on our last trip to Pasikuda we stayed over at their luxurious resort Amaya Beach. Structurally it may feel a little stodgy and old school - concrete columns, closed corridors, the live Sri Lankan band in the main restaurant - but the resort is still very efficient with great service and rooms made for pampering.
The hotel is pretty huge, and although is only about three years old, feels like it's been around for longer. They've got a very long heavily chlorinated swimming pool (goggles advised), and the dining space and many of the rooms above face it. The pool-side is the nicest space in the resort to hang out at, especially in the evenings.
Inside it's more imposing and 90's traditional, with long concrete-cocoon corridors, glimpses into the green and blue outside, but only little ones, so you're made to really stay indoors and self indulge. The main restaurant is large and lit up from the ceiling at nights with buffet tables set at angles, which may remind you of family-friendly-hotels a decade ago.
They've got a very cosy modern bar and lounge called Aqua by the pool, and also an Indian restaurant Spice Market opening soon. Also, we were told this is the only hotel on the stretch with a huge banquet hall for business gatherings.
The rooms are extremely comfortable and state of the art, with electronic card locks and automated A/Cs. It's very hard to leave once you get into bed or into a hot bath.
It's expensive though, with a full-board double in a basic Superior room costing you about Rs. 30K. However, the rooms are very spacious and luxurious, so this is not your average run-of-the-mill stay-over, plus the Pasikuda Bay resorts are generally notorious for their rates. Amaya offers deals though, if you're visiting with family or on business.
On our visit we sampled the BBQ evening buffet on Saturday. There's a small range of Indian foods, salads and freshly grilled steaks and fish - the food was alright but for Rs. 3000, it didn't seem like value for money, considering taste and variety.
The main restaurant however serves a surprisingly great burger and fries. The patty was made medium rare, succulent ground meat, with warm buns and fresh tomatoes. The fries were also very well done, crisp and warm, and the kind that's addictive.
We also got a pizza, which came with plenty of meat and cheese and was skilfully put together in terms of quality, although it could have used a bit more spice - ask for chilli flakes. The food in the main restaurant is in the Rs. 1000-1500 range. Service was good and attentive and generally unobtrusive.
Pasikuda is probably the best place in the island for a swim - the ocean is one big infinity pool with a view of the sky, and it's perfection especially early mornings and at sunset. Unfortunately the shore has become dramatically narrow in the past few years and there's barely about five feet of sand before you reach the water. So although the Pasikuda Bay, where Amaya and other hotels are lined up, is great for a swim, it's not much for chilling on the beach.
Also, check out our review of sailing and snorkeling in Pasikuda, courtesy of Sail Lanka Charter, a group that collabs with Amaya and other resorts on the stretch.
Amaya is big with tourists and business groups, and is a reliable bet if you're in Pasikuda and want to really indulge yourself.