This Christmas is the perfect time for Sri Lankans to travel. The usual reason is that card deals really kick in, but the other reason is that ongoing political instability has made hotels available, affordable and in need of local support. So get out there. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your country!
Of course, if you're staying at Heritance Ahungalla you don't really have to leave the hotel at all. The ginormous pool and the huge stretch of beach in front are entertainment enough.
As above, staying here is 40% off for all Nations Trush Bank American Express cardholders. Valid till 20th December.
This is not your usual hotel. For one thing, you can stay literally up a tree. For another, this is an area so isolated that you can see the Milky Way as never before. For me, this is the highlight of Saraii Village – the amazing view of the stars – but it also has excellent food (fresh lagoon crab) and is quite close to Yala.
Though it feels isolated, it's just off the Weerawilla Road and quite accessible via the Southern Expressway. With Nations Trust Bank American Express it's 40% off until the 20th December.
Heritance Kandalama is one of my personal favorite hotels – perhaps architect Geoffrey Bawa's most perfect medley of nature and building – and this season it's 40% for Nations Trust Bank American Express cardholders. Valid till 20th December.
The highlight here is how the hotel seems to emerge from the rock and nature that surrounds it. Kandalama almost looks like a ruin – almost hidden by creeping vines – but inside it's a luxurious hotel with excellent food. Just please keep your room windows closed, the monkeys will get inside.
And of course, don't miss the pool with its panoramic views of the lake.
Heritance Tea Factory
Another personal fav is the Heritance Tea Factory. The main draws here are that it's gloriously cold. This is basically as close as Sri Lankans can get to the North Pole.
Tea Factory is a delightful place to sit on the front lawn, drink hot tea, and watch the morning mist rise over the hills.
Did I mention that it's cold? You can snuggle under a duvet, wear a cardigan and everything else you can't do in Colombo. It doesn't snow, but you might catch some frost in the morning.
They offer 20% off exclusively for the platinum cardholders of Nations Trust Bank American Express. Valid till 31st December.
Sun Aqua Pasikudah
Though it's right on the easily swimmable Pasikudah lagoon, you may not want to leave the Sun Aqua pool. This giant pool gets warmed during the day and gradually eases into a deep end, making it great for kids. In fact, the whole place is lovely for children, with wide expanses of beach and a dedicated play area.
Batticaloa is a bit far, but since you're saving 35% on the hotel (till the 20th December) you can always splurge for a flight, getting you there in about an hour.
Especially if you have kids, sometimes all you need is a staycation. Not necessarily in your home, but in a city hotel. You can still be away from your daily cares, but also near all the Christmas shopping deals, restaurants and of course a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
OZO Colombo is the perfect spot for escaping into Colombo as it's in a great location, but also because they have spent special attention on their beds. This is one of the most peaceful sleep experiences you can get in the city, or anywhere.
For Nations Trust Bank American Express cardholders it's 20% off until the 23rd December.
Anantaya Resort & Spa
The new Airport Expressway and generally carpet roads up the north-west coast make Chilaw much more accessible than before, and it is worth a visit if you haven't been. Besides the beautiful sunsets over lagoon and ocean, Anantaya is a beautiful and well-equipped hotel.
They have classic resort activities like badminton, beach cricket and boat rides, but you can also just laze about and enjoy the scenery. I can recommend the latter, with a good book.
This season and until the 30th April it's 30% off, with blackout dates from the 23rd December to 5th January.
These are of course just a few of the lodging deals available this season through Nations Trust Bank American Express. You can see them all below. Christmas is always a great season for hotel deals, but this year it's especially good, so enjoy.