Wijerama Temple Rd, Balapitiya, Sri Lanka
Calamansi Cove by Jetwing is a villa based boutique hotel in Balapitiya. They offer spacious rooms in a serene, secluded setting overlooking the Balapitiya beach, and one of the best restaurants we've come across down south.
Calamansi Cove by Jetwing is a villa-based boutique hotel in Balapitiya. They offer spacious rooms in a serene, secluded setting overlooking the Balapitiya beach, and one of the best restaurants we've come across down south.
When people think of down south the first places that come to mind are Galle, Hikka, Bentota and Unawatuna, and while those places are great, they're fast becoming overcrowded. That's why Calamansi Cove's location in Balapitiya is so refreshing.
While Balapitiya doesn't have as many shops and eateries, it does offer a similar ambience with a lot less people. The first thing I thought when stepping on to the beach was that this is like Negombo beach, sans the multitude of tourists. So if you're looking for a private beach-side excursion, Calamansi Cove fits the bill perfectly.
When it comes to ambience, Calamansi Cove sticks to a simple yet classy approach with the entire villa complex being white-washed which is beautifully offset by the ample greener of the cove and the garden space. Walking through the pathway to our villa we did notice quite a few local flowers in the garden, and was pleasantly surprised to see them being used in the cuisine.
For those unfamiliar, the hotel's name is derived from the Calamansi fruit which is an Asian citrus found in abundance in the Balapitiya area. Calamansi Cove also comes with its own private beach front along the cove which stretches for quite a distance.
The pool, while not too big, is also perfect to just lean back, relax and catch a great view of the sunset.
Like we mentioned earlier, Calamansi Cove offers private villas as opposed to standard rooms. Each villa is like a small, very stylish house complete with its own landscaped garden, rooftop terrace and open lounge area which is perfect for reading once the mid-day heat subsides.
Just like the rest of the hotel, the rooms stick with pure white linen and hard wood floors accented by their green and yellow theme. Each villa comes with its own TV, WiFi connectivity, indoor and outdoor showers and the usual bells and whistles. One thing that's neat is that when they hand you the keys to the room they also assign a butler whom you can call for anything you need.
For the most part we found the villas to be great, especially in terms of comfort with the bed being super soft and just basically making you want to lie there and sleep all day. Another thing we liked was the soft lighting which adds to the ambience while being bright enough for reading. The only setbacks here was that WiFi connectivity was a bit weak inside the room and the picture quality of the TV could have been better, but then again if you're sitting around watching TV, you're doing something wrong.
The best part of it all though is the fact that unlike so many other hotels, Calamansi Cove is actually quite affordable so kudos to Jetwing on that front. At the time of this writing, they've got an introductory offer which starts at Rs. 11,000 (BnB), going up to Rs. 14,500 (full board) which is impeccable value for money. However, our suggestion would be to go on a BnB basis and try out the à la carte menu at their restaurant.
Since Calamansi Cove is still a pretty new operation we weren't really expecting the food to really blow us away, but were we ever wrong! Their restaurant, The Tangerine, is arguably one of the best hotel restaurants in Sri Lanka, with each meal being outstanding both in terms of flavour and presentation.
Since Calamansi Cove is a boutique hotel they don't offer a buffet, instead opting for a curated daily menu which usually comes with a Sri Lankan and Western option, as well the choice of the going with their à la carte menu, which we highly recommend.
In fact, we liked the food so much that we felt The Tangerine deserves its own review, where we'll go more into detail about the dishes we tried. Suffice to say that the food here will not disappoint, granted they can maintain their high standards.
The service at Calamansi Cove was also on point, despite being just a few months past their opening stage. They've opted for a mostly young staff who were friendly, attentive and very well trained. From what we saw, they each handled diverse responsibilities, so you'll see the receptionists helping out during the dinner service and waiters tending to room calls.
Calamansi Cove by Jetwing delivered everything we expected from them and then some. While they do have a few minor kinks to work out, we'd say that this is one of the best deals around with affordable rates, a great location and some amazing food.