Formerly Ranna 212, The Portofino Resort is situated a bit further down Tangalle, in the town of Ranna. It’s your typical idyllic South coast getaway; a lovely beach front property laced with coconut trees, lush lawns, and private rooms. The beach itself is great, secluded and clean.
It is however at least a 3 hour drive, so you might consider Portofino for a stay longer than one night. The new management has spruced up the property a bit, with more attention to detail and training. However, the food could do with some revamping – something they say they’re currently working on.
The rooms are tastefully and simply appointed, with bursts of contrast and the usual amenities you’d expect from a resort like LCD TVs, WiFi, rain showers, and full-length tubs. I stayed in a deluxe double room, which currently comes to about 20,450 LKR half board at double occupancy per night. This is often subject to pretty hefty discounts so you could ask about that as you make your booking.
I had a look at a couple of rooms, and they appear to be pretty much all the same. The double rooms are cosy and most sport a balcony or outdoor sitting area perfect for a morning tea or mimosa (you’re on holiday, so why not?). We personally felt that a couple of home-grown pieces of art or photography would bring more warmth and personality to the rooms, especially since most of the guests were foreigners and would potentially love a bit of local flavour.
Despite my room being right in front of a relatively busy part of the hotel (the pool/dining area), the room was perfectly sound proof and cosy. The bathroom was filled with a good variety of amenities, and high-quality fittings although it was minimalist bordering on sparse.
The cement tub was my favourite part, one of the few tubs I’ve come across that’s deep and wide enough for a proper soak for one or two people. This is especially true if you’re there with small kids or a romantic partner who demands supervised tandem bath time.
I had a small issue with my lights flickering and the maintenance staff was there in a jiffy to sort it out. They left me a small towel elephant after they cleaned up, either as an apology or a bribe. Either way it worked. Just look at this penitent face.
The overall service was the usual stuff Sri Lanka’s famous for – polite, warm, and genuinely friendly. They anticipated most of my needs, seemed eager to please, and were discreet. Sometimes they could be a tad slow (for example it took around 15-20 minutes for an ice bucket to my room), but I chalked it up to the sleepy coastal vibe going on.
The food wasn’t stellar at all, unfortunately. It’s the sort of fare that you can neither complain nor praise, it was just sort of lackluster. They did a few things well though, like their soups, Sri Lankan cuisine, and chocolate biscuit pudding. As a bonafide soup fan, I ended up nibbling a bit of the main course and then swiftly reverting to the yum seafood tom yum.
While breakfast and lunch are the usual buffet affairs, lunch is a set menu you can have either at the dining room or your room. I ordered a pan-seared tuna and seer fish with saffron rice, which was just about alright. It did however take around 40 minutes to come, so I wasn’t too impressed.
The action stations at lunch and dinner do usually serve up some nice fresh stuff though, either eggs as you like them in the morning or some sort of meat and seafood selection in the evening. They also usually do a weekend BBQ at Flame adjoining the Wave bar, which make for a charming evening wind down and tipple. They also have the Tonic bar on a deck, which features daily specials and happy hours.
Easily my favourite part of the Portofino experience, the spa was a treat. The unassuming little shack won’t get your attention from the outside, but it’s neat and calming on the inside. It’s just off the beach front, which makes for an interesting and strangely soothing experience as you get lulled by the rhythmic beating of the waves.
Apart from being polite and well-informed, the staff was excellently trained. They recommended an ayurvedic full body massage, which clearly was their forte. It lasted about 90 minutes and cost 60 USD, and supposedly “cleansed and balanced internal systems”. I’m not sure if my innards are cleansed or balanced but I definitely left vastly relaxed and happy.
The spa itself was tastefully decorated, simple and with more warmth than the actual rooms. The various herbal oils were all warmed up and administered deftly. Their English isn’t stellar but conversation isn’t really what you’re looking for in a massage.
We personally enjoyed the Portofino resort experience, despite the meh food. During the weekdays there were plenty of foreigners and the weekends saw more families from Colombo and Matara. The pool and amenities are quite nice, although the lawns and foliage really round out the property. They also have bicycles that you can use around the hotel and the surrounding rural areas.
The beach itself is always wide and lovely, with pristine sand and a bit of shrubbery and tropical coconut trees flapping about. It’s really private, although you’ll find your stray beach boy trying to offer you tuk tuk tours or even a massage if you’re lucky (Strong, strong sarcasm. You are not lucky. Do not accept). Unfortunately the water can be a little rough off- season so you will have to limit yourself to the beach or the pool
The service is great, the spa is even better, and the views aren’t too shabby either. It’s a great standard weekend wind down, at a fairly cheap price at the moment, before the busy season kicks in.
Kahandamodara Rd, Ranna, Tangalle
Take the Southern Expressway to the Matara exit. Drive through Tangalle town, then turn towards Ranna (on your right) - in 7 mins roughly you reach the Ranna town and see the directional signage to turn off to the right to the resort