Jetwing Lagoon is a beautiful Bawa-inspired hotel in Negombo, one of a couple of Jetwing hotels in the same zone in fact (Hotel J, Jetwing Blue). It features a series of luxury rooms that all somewhat meet at a central garden space, where you get the hotel's 100 meter infinity pool.
The clear, tranquil view of the Negombo lagoon from the main restaurant is also a highlight. Sounds a little grand but the aesthetic theme of this resort is generally simple and environmentally conscious.
Jetwing Lagoon apparently began under a different name in 1965, only to shut down in the '80s - but it was given its new face three years ago. Vinod Jayasinghe, a student of the pioneer Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, maintained the original Bawa design even through its modern makeover, so you get the general feel of open spaces, small courtyards, and tasteful simplicity.
The pool is probably the grandest thing here visually - it stretches a whole 100 meters and runs a mere four feet deep. This is a dreamy spot in the evenings when you can also see planes lit up and flying overhead.
The second startling view is a natural one, of the Negombo lagoon out back by the main restaurant. There's a massive well maintained lawn here, beautiful trees, and windsurfing boards on the lagoon if you're in the mood on a windy day.
When you're not in your room, you're constantly in touch with the greenery on the premises, which is pretty therapeutic and a welcome change from big hotels with pimped up interiors that make you want to stay in bed. We talked to Hasantha, the environmentalist at Lagoon, and he told us the hotel was making a serious effort towards being environmentally conscious - doing everything from using solar energy, to managing and recycling waste water, and using recycled materials. There's a useful 'Green Directory' booklet in every room to keep guests environment conscious.
The rooms here all follow a very simple theme - whites, browns and beiges, simple solid shapes, and always spacious. We stayed in one of the Bawa Rooms, which directly open out into the central garden and pool - besides these, there are the less luxurious Deluxe rooms, and the higher-end, larger Family Rooms and Suites. The bathrooms are all especially spacious and pleasant, some with a bit of courtyard peeking in, in typical Bawa style.
It's expensive - therein lies the rub - the Deluxe rooms alone costing Rs. 25K for a Single room, full-board. The suite goes up to Rs. 37K for the same, which isn't too bad actually considering how much bigger and luxurious it is. Still, our stay went along without a hitch, so if you really want to go all out and pamper yourself and you've saved up, this is not a bad option.
The main restaurant runs quite smoothly, with dishes arriving soon, well-presented, and extensive buffets on the weekends - a BBQ spread on Saturday evenings and a lunch spread on Sundays (Rs. 2750). The prices for dishes are generally in the Rs. 1500+ range, as any hotel of this standard tends to be, and you get the usual European fare. We tried the chef's specials of the seafood and vegetarian variety and although they weren't mindblowing, they were good, very carefully prepared and filling.
The Saturday BBQ was what impressed us though - there was a wide fresh spread of crab, beef, chicken, pork, fish and also a little corner for hoppers, hot-hot off the pan, not to mention a special room for a big spread of desserts. If you're in town and you'd like to pig out on some delicious freshly grilled meats, this is actually a legit place to consider - maybe drop in a little early to enjoy the view of the lagoon, the planes flying over it, and the dipping sun.
Service all-round was very good, with quick moving waiters, friendly managers, and especially thoughtful people manning the reception.
Jetwing Lagoon has their own private beach, right across from the hotel. We visited it last and were pleasantly surprised by a second pool, overlooking the crashing waves below. The pool is flanked by reclining seats and even a little tiki-style juice bar. There actually isn't a lot of shore in front of the ocean to wander on, but the sand by the pool makes for a great chill-out space.
Jetwing Lagoon, as is usually the case with Jetwing hotels it seems, is a comfortable, tasteful and restful choice for a vacation. It is on the high end in terms of price however, so if that isn't something that irks you the Lagoon is worth considering.