24 November 2021, Colombo: Travellers looking for a distinctive cultural and aesthetic experience need not look further than Cinnamon Bentota Beach, which boasts a unique legacy of art and architecture by globally reputed artists. The pandemic has intensified the desire amongst tourists to have a truly experiential holiday that lingers with them long after they return home. A stay at the Cinnamon Bentota Beach – replete with art and architecture by Sri Lanka’s internationally known architects and artists offers glimpses into local heritage, culture and talent.
Amidst a sea of cookie cutter holiday resorts in any destination in the world, the Cinnamon Bentota Beach is a genuine masterpiece of Asia’s well-known and amongst the most influential architects – Geoffrey Bawa. The resort’s spectacular architecture, its breath-taking ocean views, the old-world charm and its rich array of stylish and contemporary spaces make it the ultimate location for experiencing the very essence of inspired island living. While designing the property, the visionary architect approached the hotel with a new type of design envisioned for the first time in South Asia, as a precedent to the Asian style of architecture, now known as ‘tropical modernism’ that engages with local material connected to the locality.
Geoffrey Bawa designed the property in 1967 as a masterpiece that would be rooted in time and place that would reflect the local culture and nature. Five decades later, in 2019, it has been refurbished by leading architect Channa Daswatte who has recreated the interiors in 2019 with the same original artists, ending with 16 Suites with unique sets of artworks expressed by local people and local languages.
The piece de resistance is the rich batik ceiling envisioned and brought to life by Ena de Silva, a notable artist credited with re-establishing Sri Lanka’s batik industry. Credited to Anil Gamini Jayasuriya, the artwork is rendered on wax resist and dye on cotton cloth mounted on plyboard.
Another striking feature is the handloom fabric covered ceiling by Barbara Sansoni and Marie Gnanaraj, just as it was in 1967. The colours of the ceiling depict spectacular sunsets and contrast the plain white floor for its dramatic reflection of sunlight. Barbara Sansoni and Marie Gnanaraj are the artists of the handloom fabric mounted on plyboard.
Further, many of artist and architect Ismeth Raheem’s drawings decorate the walls of the resort in keeping with instruction from Geoffrey Bawa only to use felt tip pens and Samara pigment on limewash, these have been restored by Ismeth Raheem himself recently.
The majestic peacock, a work of art made of welded copper and brass sheets was created by Laki Senanayake and was the only sculpture that stood its ground while the entire building was brought down, brick by brick during its architectural archiving process. Protected by a steel box during the demolition and rebuilding process, it has been cleaned and repaired by artist Pradeep Manamperi.
Elsewhere, the striking brass panels on a copper backdrop of the lift door were originally designed by the architect Anura Ratnavibhushana working in the studio of Geoffrey Bawa and reminiscent of the then fashionable designs of the Scandinavian designer Marie Mekko. The current panels are a copy of the original made in the 1990s.
Providing the perfect mood to set off the colour and aesthetics is the frangipani tree on the property that has been a silent witness to the march of time – a symbol of immortality.
Commenting on the lovingly restored property and the valuable art and architecture it houses, Dilan Bandara – General Manager of Cinnamon Bentota Beach said: “Cinnamon Bentota Beach has once again been restored to its iconic status as a distinctive property that transcends time and place and encompasses the microcosm of Sri Lanka. Tourists who want to experience the arts and culture of the island need only stay at Cinnamon Bentota Beach to understand the rich legacy of native culture. There is no other such resort in the region that truly speaks to its residents and extends a unique wow factor.”
Guests can revel in this ‘wow’ factor in the 16 Suites with their unique sets of artworks rendered by Sri Lankan artists, depicted through indigenous art and culture. Each suite at Cinnamon Bentota Beach is home to its own design and aura. Six archival barefoot fabric designs by Barbara Sansoni were selected to be displayed behind the bed heads. The art within every suite is made with 100% locally sourced material and craftsmanship. In addition to the stunning suites, the accommodation comprises 159 rooms that fuse traditional design elements with contemporary and vibrant interiors, luxury amenities, the finest fittings and in-room comforts.
Cinnamon Bentota Beach is undoubtedly the ultimate tropical destination perfect for an art and architecture enthusiast or a lover of exquisite oceans. Bookings and reservations can be made at the Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts official website https://www.cinnamonhotels.com/cinnamonbentotabeach and 24*7 hotline 0342 275 176.