We headed over to Kaduruketha to check out one of Jetwing's latest ventures just before the long weekend. It's almost practically in the middle of nowhere as it was nearly an hour away from Ella by private transport, but we later learnt that the Jetwing chain is hoping to make Kaduruketha a hub; especially as it's central and easily accessible to a number of popular sites, including temples, waterfalls, and other holiday destinations (think Arugam Bay, Ella, Bandarawela).
A couple of friends and I got the Badulla Nightmail from Fort to Ella, soon after work on Wednesday evening. The train's a ten hour ride, from 8PM to 6AM and ride from Ella to Wellawaya is another hour at least. However, pickups from the main bus stand or train station can be arranged by the hotel.
You can also get buses to Wellawaya from Badulla, Bandarawela, or Beragala. The buses are 15-20ish minutes apart though, and can be rather tedious, so we recommend calling the hotel ahead and arranging for pick up from either the Wellawaya or Ella stations/ bus stops.
Set in the midst of the rolling hills of Poonagala and paddy fields which once belonged solely to the Kadurugama family, Jetwing Kaduruketha has a total of 25 little cabins each having its own scenic view.
Most of the cabins face the paddy fields owned jointly by Jetwing and the Kadurugama family, so you have a pretty epic view at any time of the day. 11 cabins have decks instead of the verandah shown in the picture above, so that's absolutely perfect to chill out at night because you get a gorgeous and unpolluted view of the night sky, with the stars appearing bigger than anything you could hope to see within the city. Unless power around the island died out for a couple of days, in which case we'd get a pretty clear view I guess.
We love the design and the decor of the place — minimalistic, with white and muted colours making up most of the interior, splashed with bright red for some of the accessories. The Wel Widaana styled cabins (pictured above) has walls made purely of bamboo shoots (stilts?) so you get natural lighting in throughout the day. It's been netted across, so mosquitos don't get in, and there are cloth blinds you can draw down from the inside so that you aren't silhouetted at night and visible to everyone around the neighbourhood.
You get constant white noise with the thrums of birds constantly in the background, with the crows of peacocks being predominant. If you're lucky, you'd see a brood of them bobbing their heads up and down in the paddy, or shuffling their glorious tail feathers a few metres off your cabin.
There are two types of dwellings — Wel Vidana and Arachchi, the difference predominantly being in the walls and the deck/ verandah, as mentioned before. They both have the same facilities, which is the bedroom, bathroom, and great view. Also, wifi and all that.
The bathrooms are open, with the Wel Vidana washroom having an open shower area so you get a clear view of the sky whenever you pop in for a shower, and the Arachchi-esque villa's washroom not having any doors or shutters to separate its entrance to the bedroom. I personally found that a bit uncomfortable, but that's probs just me.
Prices start from 21,000 bucks for B&B, and you also get your own butler from check-in to check-out. You can acquire a room for the day for 9000 bucks as well, by the way.
Another interesting point to note is that despite having pretty speedy WiFi, there's no TV or airconditioning as the hotel encourages you to explore and get out more. The weather is pretty chilly, especially during the mornings and at night, with noon being rather hot. But, if you sit outside for like a nice little siesta, the view of the paddy along with the breeze which constantly wafts by does help you to deal with it.
The hotel is themed around agro-tourism, organic farming, and authentic Old Ceylon Kandyan homes, so the paddy fields functions side-by-side with the hotel, and they source most of their herbs and spices from their vast gardens. The swimming pool is also in line with the theme, as it's designed in the shape of a wevas biso-kotuwa.
The beautiful thing about Kaduruketha's menu is, it's amazingly simple. They keep descriptions down to a minimum, and tell you outright in the simplest possible terms what you're about to be served; and while you think 'oh, pol rotti and lunumiris sambol', it turns out to be so much more because of how perfect that pol rotti and lunumiris sambol is. The head chef, Romesh Kulatunga, wasn't in for the duration of our stay, but he's done a brilliant job with training the kitchen staff.
We'll have another post up soon, in which we'll focus on the food here.
They use spices, herbs, and veggies sourced from their garden, and hope to become completely self-sustained what with harvesting their own paddy for rice as well.
They have a Sri Lankan menu and a Western menu, and the elements in both were executed perfectly. The Sri Lankan menu had full on gamey kaema, with the likes of rice and curries, parippu, mallums, greens, and pappadam, whilst the Western dishes included sea-food dishes, grills, roasted chicken, and bowls full of creamy soups.
Price-wise, breakfast, lunch, and dinner goes for Rs. 1,600, Rs. 2,250, and Rs. 2,700 nett respectively.
You get butler service, like we mentioned earlier, and they're super friendly and helpful. This is less Colonial-Butler and more Sri-Lankan-Hospitality-Steward, with smiles and sarongs and nice crisp shirts, as opposed to tuxs and sombre faces. They'll accompany you on hikes and excursions, and basically be your Google Kaduruketha.
Jetwing's doing a great job with Kaduruketha, and we love the concept of agro-tourism and promoting the Wellawaya area as an official hub. Food is fabulous, views are great, weather is cool and balmy. If you want to chill, you can, and if you want to do anything outdoorsy, go sightseeing or hiking or river-bathing, you can do that too.