Welcome! Please make yourself at home, feel free to ask for anything you need… and have a truly wonderful stay… Our aim (below) is to answer FAQ’s before being asked. We hope by doing so you’ll get the best from us and from being here… in Sri Lanka…
Please Click Content Links:
1. Make yourself at home…
We’ll do our level best to keep you happy and comfortable here just as you would be at home, by being fun to be with (we hope!), informal, thoughtful and by being as helpful as can be. If there’s anything more we can do please say i.e., ideas for days out, bespoke dining, an ironingboard, birthday cake, electrical adapter or taxi, mosquito plug-ins, assisted flight check-ins, night-turndown service or a gecko relocated; extra towels, odd mealtimes, unusual diets, the doctor, a wake-up call, early ‘bed tea’ or breakfast, your shopping done, a fisherman’s cigar,lions tamed – our resourcefulness is almost limitless.
No matter how hard we endeavour to anticipate our guests’ needs and personalise service, we occasionally get it wrong. We may think and communicate in another language and we’re only human – like you! Your stay however is meant to be perfect, so if it isn’t please inform us – right away. We relish a challenge and commit to solving a query or complaint quickly rather than hide from it – within 1 hour if humanly possible. If something isn’t working in your suite for example, if you require a greater level of attention or are anxious about anything we genuinely want to know. It’s simple really, none of us can be happy here if you’re not.
While with us…
The hotel is most commonly chosen for its ‘away from it all’ location by those in need of a few lazy days in a natural sanctuary. But, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing here for more active types. Sri Lanka’s climate does dictate certain activities are seasonal, though despite this we usually conjure up ideas for days out, rain or shine (examples later). You may be relieved knowing that as policy we don’t ‘up-sell’ excursions or anything other than our fabulous teas, rather we give assistance as and when asked. Tell us what you have in mind, we’ll then help as much or as little as you require.
2. General hotel info…
Emergencies & enquiries…
From the mobile handset please use the pre-programmed number for Guest Manager or just call: (+94) 0473 489447.
Charges & billing…
Prices shown on our website and on all menus include VAT/local taxes,levies & service – the price you see is the price you pay. On the morning of departure (after breakfast) we’ll present you with your ‘Final Bill’. The bill itemises extras such as meals and drinks plus, advance payment if made. During your stay we’ll happily provide interim bills on request. Neither on arrival nor after dining will we ask you to sign anything or ask to ‘swipe’ your credit card.
Checkout @ 10:30…
Hotel departure/checkout is by 10.30am but, naturally we’re flexible if we can be. Upon arrival, please advise us of a late flight departure or driver collection time to see whether we can keep you here a bit longer. Late checkout is necessarily subject to occupancy levels and prior agreement but, it is never charged for. Important please note; the hotel accepts local currency/Visa and MasterCard credit cards only.
Banks and ATM’s can be found at Tangalle and throughout Sri Lanka. International credit cards are widely accepted but local currency (Sri Lankan rupees) is still best means of payment. US dollars and other currencies can be exchanged for rupees at banks – passport/ID required.
Should our teamwork inspire gratitude beyond your good custom, please feel free to tip – it’s very much appreciated! If you do wish to, we politely suggest contributing to the Team Fund on the day of your departure? This way everybody benefits and equally, regardless of status. The Team understands that tips are for service excellence far beyond expectations and are by no means an automatic ‘right’. When away from the hotel you may wish to consider the same principal? I don’t encourage bad service by tipping for it and never tip when solicited for one – wherever I am.
This usually takes place during breakfast or as soon after as is practical. We access your accommodation only with your permission and key after asking for both. We view your room as your sanctuary – something we avoid disturbing for ‘night turndowns’ and suchlike (we don’t do them unless asked).
Slippery when wet…
Cement floors may be cool to look at, walk on, and be easily cleaned – but please exercise caution. This typically tropical surface is slippery when wet and if ones feet are already wet. Take extra care in bedrooms, some bathrooms, at our open-air restaurant and games room. We supply free flip-flops (slippers) on request – you may find some in your wardrobe.
Everyday items should work here. We have ‘three phase’ electricity plus sophisticated switchgear for generators that cut-in when supply is down. Daily power outages are a local phenomenon but rarely do we fail to maintain supply.
For your convenience we provide a ‘free local calls’ handset for use at or when away from the hotel. Do feel free to call us or anyone in Sri Lanka, our Guest Manager and office numbers are pre-programmed.
Usage is free but painfully slow at times. Networks are overstretched during peak hours, while routers ‘fall over’ with the frequent power outages, wind and rain. In fact it never ceases to amaze us when the Wi-Fi does work! When you encounter difficulty please tell us.
As a rule we launder linens and towels after two nights’ usage. However, please don’t be shy in asking for more frequent changes – this is a hotel as well as your home! All laundry is outsourced including that of our guests – laundry sent out normally returns the day after next unless the weather is bad. Please don’t send cherished items, local techniques are unsophisticated to say the least. We don’t charge for delivery/collection providing your laundry bills are settled by cash upon your departure.
Tap water is considered safe to clean ones teeth in and drink, but it doesn’t taste so great. Because of this, we provide unlimited drinking water which you’ll find in your fridge in beakers (and at our Oceanfront restaurant). For more frequent replenishment than once daily please ask. Our pipe-borne water supply is frequently interrupted so we store several days-worth in tanks. Solar panels heat bathroom water and therefore, temperatures can fluctuate. Water may take a few moments to run hot. Early morning or on overcast days, water may at best run tepid. If it does please say – we’ll switch on your back-up water heater.
Children 6 years upwards…
Children 6 years old and above are truly welcome at the hotel although we respectfully ask parents to consider the tranquil nature of our sanctuary and quiet enjoyment of it by all. We take our duty of care seriously and therefore, don’t accept babies or toddlers irrespective of how clever, cute or well-travelled they are. We operate a strict child policy and give candid advice for the love of children and sanctuary of our guests. Experience tells us children can prefer running around a restaurant to sitting still in it with the grown-ups. In such cases, early evening meals or room dining is advised or requested of parents. We do our bit to keep kids safe, happy and considerate of others – humbly and politely we ask parents to do the same – for everyone’s sake. Interesting wildlife, dogs, our roamingpony Rocky-Ginger along with plants, trees and various areas of the hotel can spell danger for unsupervised kids. Soft bare feet are vulnerable to bites, stings and cuts, while staircases have no gates, swimming pools and ponds no guard rails. Balcony railings can appear like colourful climbing frames to kids!
We’re not ‘anti-smoker’ but smokers please… don’t smoke at the restaurant or inside your suite. Balconies, verandas and gardens are best alternatives and we happily provide ashtrays and source local cigarettes on request. Please, as you would anywhere, be mindful of non-smokers especially children. We’re not ‘anti non-smoker’ and simply take the view that we should all try to respect one another’s life choices and personal space.
Smoking is forbidden in public buildings/spaces, at restaurants and hotel lobbies. If you’re not sure we politely suggest asking before lighting up.
Resident guests must by law produce a valid passport or national identity card and complete a registration process. Buckingham Place operates a ‘by reservation’ policy both for its restaurant ‘Oceanfront’ and accommodation. To protect your sanctuary we reserve the right to welcome only visitors whom have pre-booked.
Facilities are planned for the district we’re told, until then the environment suffers unduly. We recycle/up-cycle whatever we can and minimise purchase of goods packed with plastic. We follow several other initiatives too as in my view every little helps. If you’re homeward-bound with spare luggage capacity please feel free to repatriate your plastics if recyclable where you come from. Your consideration is much appreciated.
3. Swimming Advisory…
Unequivocally, we advise all visitors (even to our website) against sea bathing within the immediate vicinity of the hotel due to unpredictable waves and currents. A rock-pool and safer beaches can be accessed on foot or by taking a short tuk-tuk ride – seasonality permitting. Guests frequently tell us that Rekawa’s beach is the most spectacular they’ve ever seen. We hope you enjoy it too, but that you don’t swim from it – we wouldn’t want to lose you!
Our cooling-off pool in the quiet garden is 12m in length and 1.2m deep throughout. The 33m long, ocean facing pool is 80cm deep at its bar/relaxation end before sloping downwards from 1.2m to 2m. The ‘lapping’ section is 25m long but please note, there are no designated lifeguards at the hotel or the beach – please enjoy but take care, especially with children. A beach shower is located behind the wall next to the Oceanfront bar/beach garden access, another shower can be found behind the spa (round window).
4. Oceanfront & In-Room Dining…
There are NO buffets or strict mealtimes here – Oceanfront is open all day from 08: 00 or earlier on request. Kitchen crews prefer to begin shutting down from *21:30 (*last orders please) but are flexible when they know well in advance. On busy days, please reserve your table if you have a time and/or table preference.
Breakfast is a long lazy affair for most as there is no particular time by which it must be enjoyed. Should you arrive for breakfast even early afternoon we’ll serve you with a smile and bid you good morning!
After breakfast, an ‘Afternoons’ menu offers small snacks to full meals. From late afternoon, that evenings’ menu can be viewed and ordered from – should you wish to.
5 x short a la carte evening menus (changed daily) enable us to ‘buy fresh & cook fresh’ and offer an eclectic mix of local cuisine, innovative fusion and a few old fashioned favourites – over a five night stay.
Long-stay guests or those in need of greater choice please ask Oceanfront captains about further alternatives.
Fixed price dining supplement options are available on request: US$49 (full board) / US$34 (half board) can be opted for at any time during your stay. Once your option is chosen, then it’s set for the remainder of your stay. Choice is from the same a la carte
Room dining & service…
Pre-arranged candlelit suppers on a balcony/veranda are served at no extra charge, as are breakfasts, snacks, tea and coffee (free before/during breakfast) – no tray charges at this hotel! Many menu items can be served to your accommodation or poolside/garden – subject to weather!
Tea & coffee…
Sorry if this is slightly inconvenient… We avoid providing generic in-room ‘brew’ facilities, instead, we’ll happily deliver fresh pots of tea and coffee to order and in so doing, limit opportunities for ants and wildlife to share your accommodation. Please call us 07:00 – 21:30 to receive a pot of your choice within 15 minutes or so. If you’re an early riser one of us will rise to serve you, just let us know how early you’d like service the previous evening. Unlimited tea and coffee is served to house guests from 07:00 and throughout breakfast, please consume as you wish.
Don’t go hungry…
We don’t zap vacuum packed meals in machines or ‘baths’ or keep food hanging around partially prepared or cooked. Your order therefore, might take a little longer than at a restaurant back home, especially if several orders are being cooked simultaneously. Please order before you get hungry and when on a tight schedule and don’t go without! If nothing offered that day takes your fancy please say. Usually we have extra options up our sleeve – truly, we don’t want you to go hungry. We can also prepare bespoke meals subject to suggestions/our ability/availability of ingredients and sufficient notice.
noisy communication devices disturb pleasant mealtimes for others. Please let common-sense and etiquette prevail when using them at our restaurant.
Dining – a final word…
Menus evolved through much thought, effort and guest feedback over the last 6 years or so – and we don’t rest on our laurels! Please don’t go hungry (or thirsty), do allow time for freshly prepared meals and tell us please, about your food preferences, allergies and religious/dietary requirements. Sri Lankan cuisine is available every day and served at the same level of ‘spiciness’ Sri Lankans prefer themselves. If you don’t like something we serve you we’ll replace it without challenge or charge – could any restaurant be more committed? Bon appetite!
Our liquor licence…
In observance of local culture and licensing laws: on Poya full moon days and during religious festivals, and on notable public/national days (occasionally at short notice), only unopened alcohol can be served and only then, to guests accommodation. On such occasions alcohol may not be consumed at Oceanfront or in the gardens.
Alcohol purchased from us may only be consumed on the property.
Rs.1000 ‘corkage’ per bottle is automatically levied in the event of guests bringing their own alcohol to the restaurant and/or for delivery of glasses to accommodation for own alcohol consumption.
By the bottle…
Within a couple of days, wine can turn to vinegar if opened or at best, taste something less than it’s meant to. For this reason the hotel doesn’t serve wine ‘by the glass’ and instead, serves unopened bottles only. Please feel free to keep a partly consumed bottle in your refrigerator or ask us to refrigerate it on your behalf – thank you.
Bar service is from 10:00 – 24:00 unless all guests retire early and no longer need service. A selection of wines, ice cold beers, and spirits (local/imported) are available.
Since 2002 I’ve lived here suffering no serious illness or disease, simply by taking a few extra precautions. I drink bottled water and maintain sensible food/hygiene disciplines. Occasionally I use mosquito cream if they’re prevalent and take care around wildlife – particularly dogs. If bitten by a sand fly, mosquito or ant I try not to scratch the bite – easier said than done I know, and if I cut or graze myself I clean, dry and patch the affected area quickly. In the unlikely event of illness or injury seek medical advice immediately. If at the hotel ask where to go or, for us to help you – we have a basic first aid box and contact with English speaking doctors and nurses. The best hospitals are in Colombo and although hospitals and doctors are fairly nearby, facilities may not be quite what you’re used to or adequate for the situation.
Sri Lanka is equatorial, so the sun can burn, dehydrate and make us very sick very quickly (sunstroke), we’ve seen it many times. Even on overcast days use high factor sun cream, drink lots of water, don’t over exert, wear a nice hat and cover fair skin – especially if young. We all know the dangers of over exposure to the sun; avoid a spoilt holiday and short life! Warning signs; headaches, nausea/vomiting, tiredness – boiled lobster appearance.
6. Spa @ Buckingham Place…
Welcoming resident and non-resident clients by appointment 9.30am – 7pm daily.
- When staying at the hotel please just ask any of us to make an appointment for you.
- If staying elsewhere, please call 0763 094555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your requirements then await confirmation.
Full Body Relaxation… This oil based full body treatment works effectively to tone muscles and skin whilst reducing tension and fatigue; excellent for all-round relaxation.
Aromatherapy Massage… This gentle, relaxing massage uses aromatic oils and a combination of soothing strokes and acupressure techniques – demonstrating the healing properties of natural oils which, penetrate the skin and take you to the depths of relaxation.
Ayurveda Style Massage… Using Ancient techniques, this relaxing body massage combined with warm Ayurveda herbal oil cleanses and balances the internal systems to leave you with a renewed sense of wellbeing.
Deep Tissue Back Massage… A fusion of deep massage techniques to address tension and tightness across the back, neck and shoulders. The movements are especially designed to ease muscle tension and release stress.
Foot Reflexology… By stimulating pressure points that mirror the body’s structure and system, this foot and leg massage promotes the body to heal itself.
Coconut & Lime… Soften and smooth your skin with a gentle exfoliate made from natural ingredients including sea sand, lime and coconut. Removes dead skin cells, tones and refreshes, leaving your skin soft to the touch.
Sandalwood & Kokum… A herbal body scrub to help exfoliate dead skin cells and leave your skin feeling silky soft.
Aloe Vera Sun Wrap… Natural properties of Aloe Vera work as a healing treatment against sun damage; replenishing, hydrating and cooling the skin.
Sandalwood & Papaya… Sandalwood and fresh Papaya play an important role in natural beauty treatments. A wrap to enhance skin tone and cleanse deeply.
Signature Facial… A delicate deep cleansing and light exfoliation of face and neck with a shoulder massage too. Tailored to suit your skin type and followed by a replenishing mask to leave your skin renewed.
Manicure & Pedicure… All manicures and pedicures include a sea sand scrub and massage in addition to complete skin and nail care. Your hands and feet will feel soft and beautiful after this ultimate treatment.
Head, Neck & Shoulder Massage… Releasing your pain and tension.
Foot Massage… A divine foot and leg massage includes a soothing coconut milk soak to ease tired aching soles.
Mini Facial… After a day in the sun, replenish and soothe your skin with a relaxing aromatherapy face massage.
Emotional… Coconut body scrub & Full body relaxing massage.
Energy… Deep tissue back massage & Foot reflexology.
Calmness… Ayurveda style full body massage & Foot reflexology.
My Skin… Body scrub + Aromatherapy + Facial.
Journey’s by road by whatever means can be alarming to the uninitiated. Reasonably one concludes there are no rules and all drivers are completely nuts! Fortunately, Sri Lanka’s driving ‘style’ mostly works and luckily, road-rage hasn’t really arrived here – yet. Observers have suggested that because drivers commit identical misdemeanours, few are surprised or upset by the antics of others. Self-drive vehicles can be hired in Colombo and at its airport subject to possession of a valid national and international drivers’ licence plus, a Sri Lankan Drivers Permit. It may be less stressful to hire an experienced driver, if he then unnerves you speak up! If you require us to, we will facilitate airport transfers and all general transport needs competitively, with fixed prices, estimated journey times and certain assurances too.
We brief all (sub-contact) drivers to go steadily and get you there in one piece, even if your journey takes longer. If they fail to oblige feel free to remind them – they know we foreigners frighten easily. Whether on the road under your own steam or that of another, fasten your seatbelt, hang on and expect the unexpected!
No holiday is complete without a hop in a three wheeler taxi – aka a tuk-tuk or trishaw. A return trip to Tangalle starts at cRs.1000 with waiting time cRs.150 per hour. Before boarding it’s customary (not rude) to negotiate the fare, route and final destination. Some travellers prefer to avoid detours via tourist shops, gem dealers and the like. If this is your preference we suggest making it clear from the outset.By rail… Train journeys prove a real highlight for many (please ask) but buses are surely not for the faint hearted?!
Transfers and sightseeing services can be booked directly (please ask). Passenger embarkation is c40 minutes away by road at Mahwella Lagoon. Scenic flights to Colombo take c50 minutes. The current operator is Cinnamon Air.
The hotel is c3.5hrs from the Bandaranaike International (Colombo) and just 1hr from Mattala International (MRIA/Hambantota). Please book your road transfer one day prior departure or earlier if possible.
8. Our belief…
Sri Lankans are justly proud of their islands great beauty and fascinating heritage. Expect them to be friendly, welcoming and helpful and even overly protective at times – they’ll want you to be happy, safe and love Sri Lanka as they do.
The island is a melting pot of religious ethnicity and diverse cultures. Devotees of all faiths coexist harmoniously pretty much, observing and often celebrating one another’s auspicious occasions. Sri Lanka hasn’t always enjoyed such harmony which, rather understates the complex tragic conflict from which its people are awakening. However, now and since peace dawned in 2009 a cautious optimism prevails. Our hotel by-line ‘believe in Sri Lanka’ can be viewed as us/me sharing this upbeat outlook.
Rekawa Village is home to a sleepy, farmer and fisher community. English isn’t widely spoken except in ‘pidgin’ form or at the hotel, but then why should it be? How widely is our hosts’ language spoken in our countries, even in our cities or hotels? Tending not to take long holidays themselves; over the years I’ve encountered many villagers bemused by our holiday self-indulgence. Perhaps they wonder if our streets are paved with gold – if judging us by our seemingly bottomless wallets. So, a little humbleness, friendliness and a few words of Sinhala might endear you to your hosts, as might walking around the village or taking a tuk-tuk to town – the local way. Villagers may appear to keenly observe you or be cheeky at times, especially children, but don’t be offended or worried. Rarely is there need for concern at this innocent curiosity and after all, what’s their benchmark? Aside from race, creed, colour and opportunity, maybe we’re all much more different than we realise or say freely nowadays?
Buddhism is the adopted, handed down philosophy and faith of the country’s majority (74%) and is predominant throughout Rekawa and most southern areas. Islam and Christianity account for a sizeable portion of this districts population also. Whatever doctrine is followed it is done so fervently with much piety, coming often with colourful ceremonies and superstitious rituals. This kaleidoscope contributes positively in general but attitudes do exist (we might say conservative?) in terms of dress and behaviour which should be duly noted. Examples; at international hotels even, topless sunbathing is not permissible while overt closeness of couples is much frowned upon. Irritatingly and quite hypocritically of course, travellers wearing beachwear, short-shorts and skimpy clothing can attract unwanted attention from males, especially on buses, trains, in restaurants and public places – even on touristic beaches. Liberal attitudes are thankfully maturing with the growth of tourism but all the same, one should pay heed and dress modestly when out if for no other reason than ones’ own peace of mind.
Religious etiquette must be observed at all places of devotion. Remove headwear, cover shoulders, arms and legs above knees and remove all footwear. Also, travellers are frequently scorned for innocently posing in front of sacred statues for photos and/or for touching them. Both potentially (if mildly) punishable offences make us look disrespectful or stupid at best. Whatever your faith, if you have one, it is customary to make affordable donations of cRs.1000 upon visiting any place of worship.
These are generally plentiful and if you wish to then why not participate? In addition to inter-village cricket matches barely a month passes without a wedding, religious ceremony or auspicious occasion of some kind. Everybody attends everything and all are welcome, though if accepting a late night party invitation beware, parties can become boisterous quickly if ‘fuelled’ by the ever popular local arrack. Be prepared to keep the liquor flowing at your own expense and, for a thumping great headache next morning!
9. Our sanctuary & turtles…
Whilst we might feel privileged to share this place with its wildlife, natural fear of the unknown inevitably means it gets too close for some. Please be assured that plain good sense is generally adequate protection from unwanted encounters and irritants – eco-friendly and innovative measures help too. Not wishing to seem flippant, you’ll notice that I’m still here and intact after 15 years in residence having suffered no worse than occasional insect bites and minor stings. Mosquitoes, sand flies and ants can be a nuisance at times, so when necessary use a repellent, especially after rain. Tips; keep doors and windows closed at night, switch off lights in your open-air bathroom, avoid sitting on the ground and, don’t leave food out for the monkeys! To our knowledge there are no poisonous spiders here but an occasional centipede or scorpion is possible. Whilst rarely spotted these critters give a meaningful sting if disturbed but we emphasise, they’re rarely spotted and nobody has been affected to date. We take great care to minimise ‘wildlife moments’ but please appreciate they can’t be ruled out entirely – our tropical garden is also natures sanctuary. Reptiles such as monitor lizards, even the odd snake, may surprise you, but few are dangerous and even then, only when threatened. To avoidsurprises at night use a torch when outside, follow pathways and drag your feet as you walk (local tip). Don’t try to touch wildlife as it may not like you to. For perspective; nobody has been affected adversely by more than mosquitoes or ants since this property was purchased in 2OO2. Also, during a recent sojourn to the South of France I swatted more mosquitoes than would bite me year-round at the hotel. (Typically) non-aggressive Grey Langur monkeys are hugely entertaining and 100% wild – please don’t feed them. Sharing our habitat with ‘the relatives’ is a joy but please remember, they once owned it. Finally, please rest assured that nothing loafs around the garden waiting to bite you. Relax, enjoy our wildlife, it is truly wonderful!
We’re situated at the edge of a nature sanctuary and prime nesting beach for sea turtles. Both are patrolled by wildlife rangers while ‘nest protectors’ derive income from supervising the beach and turtle activity after dark – the latter funded by visitor (your) donations. Whilst we support the concept of this village initiative and previously promoted it, current feedback suggests that it struggles to cope with increased demand and multiple languages. The beach is largely deserted during the day but at night, visitors can outnumber turtles c50:1 – or more. Project workers and conservationists ask us to advise you that torches, camera flashes, ‘phone lights, smoking, bright clothing, noise and close proximity to turtles may affect their habitual return long term. We respect your right to choose and invite you to discuss the topic further. If you do go (from c8.30pm), please take your donation (Rs.1000/Rs.600 for kids under 12), keep an open mind and remember, these amazing creatures have been nesting here for thousands of years.
Our own animals are loved, bathed, fed, exercised and visited by their goodfriend the vet, but none are well-mannered I’m afraid. Doberman Insp. Clouseau barks loudly and looks mean (his job) but isn’t really – once he gets to know you. When on patrol he’s on a lead so don’t worry! Rocky-Ginger is our lovable but cheeky and shabby rescue pony. Don’t be alarmed if he asks for carrots or your sandwiches but, if he irritates you or steals your beer, do please scold him and/or us. Rocky-G is in retirement and quite feral now so don’t try riding or standing behind him or, allow children to. Like most quadrupeds he’ll kick if anxious and may bite you accidently if fed incorrectly (flat palm /fingers away). We’re told he’s trying his best to dominate the ‘herd’ (us) and might therefore nip occasionally if we give him the chance – please take care around him, he’s quite happy to be left alone. Finally, don’t be offended by Nick’s ill-mannered dachshund Gracie-B. She barks at ALL strangers until she knows them well hasn’t bitten a soul other than him and, is actually quite adorable occasionally!
he birds here are spectacular too and there’s hardly a need to leave the hotel just to see them. Don’t be surprised to be woken by a resident peacocks (Gene, Sidney, Ella and Billie) attacking their reflection in your window, or to lose your unattended breakfast to the crafty crows hanging out near the restaurant!
Prolonged rain is unusual but it can fall heavily on occasion – here on the edgeof a dry zone we embrace it. In the event if practical, we suggest delaying activities and dining until it stops – it rarely lasts long but can cause absolute chaos! After rain we can be ‘blessed’ with singing frogs and sometimes, visitations from harmless flying bugs. Please bear with us, we’ll be trying our best to minimise inconvenience for everyone.
10. Innocents abroad…
When travelling, we might easily forget that our host country evolved at a different pace and way to our own. Conceivably then, we could be hasty with judgements and make silly mistakes,challenging both ourselves and those we meet along the way. But as innocents abroad let us not be too harsh on ourselves? None of us seek to offend or look foolish do we? Your visit should be perfect and memorable for all the right reasons hence, some common-sense advice/timely reminders below.
Wake up call…
Overwhelmingly, Sri Lankans are good hearted warm decent people, but as with every countr on earth there are exceptions. Disparities of wealth and opportunity provide temptation for the ‘not-so good hearted’ – everywhere. For perspective, it’s handy to remember the value of your nice wristwatch may far exceed a local annual income, and a visa enabling your visit to Sri Lanka was obtained without question for a fee equivalent to two days’ wages in some cases. World over, ‘worldly travellers’ fall prey to rip-off taxi rides, driver commissions, property sharks, tourist prices and worse. Such occurrences can begin with a ‘friendship’ before ending in tears – here is no exception. Doing business e.g., land transactions or setting up partnerships is a legal minefield. Too frequently, deals are accompanied by worthless contracts, hidden commissions, illegal structures, unclear or forged deeds and the like. Too good to betrue ‘opportunities’ and affairs of the heart are common pitfalls for the hapless traveller who sadly, wants to believe everyone who smiles is as honest as the day is long. Lasting friendships begin here as they do elsewhere – so why not embark on some? Our polite gentle reminder is that trust and friendships mature down the years. If concerned by what might motivate a new friend go slowly and tread carefully. Say no thanks unambiguously and remember; our money, naivety and good manners are what opportunists love best.
Safe & secure…
As at home… overnight and when going out even briefly, please lock and bolt your doors/windows and leave valuables in your safety box. If on the beach or travelling, common sense must prevail. Avoid carrying valuables if you can, don’t leave bags unattended even momentarily – while swimming or leaving a taxi for a bathroom stop for example. And beware, pickpockets and undesirable elements are not a phenomenon exclusive to our native country. In unfamiliar surroundings take fewer risks, especially if travelling solo. Long, solitary walks along isolated beaches or exploring remote access locations with a stranger, should be considered carefully and avoided at night. Jewellery, cameras and electronic gadgets can be as attractive as those flaunting them. Inadequate policing throughout the island creates the need for self-vigilance. We don’t want your holiday ruined or anyone to waste time filling out a statement of a crime that’s unlikely to be solved in our lifetime!
Perspective: offences targeting tourists are thankfully rare. After 15 years here, I feel as safe in Rekawa (if not more so) as I did in the UK.
It’s the law…
Laws most commonly broken by travellers (layman’s terms):
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke in public places/spaces.
- Don’t drink and drive – includes bicycles and bull-carts.
- Don’t be intoxicated/out of control in public – or here unless on Champagne!
- Don’t use illicit drugs including cannabis – see scary airport notices.
- No nude, lewd or lascivious behaviour in public or open spaces – includes beaches.
- Don’t drive or ride motorcycles unless in possession of a Sri Lankan Drivers Permit (etc).
- No fishing without a permit.
- Don’t offend religious or social sensibilities – see earlier advice or ask.
- Keep religion/faith orientated tattoos, adornments and clothing out of sight, just in case.
- Don’t use a camera near official buildings – especially those of a military/political kind.
- Don’t endanger flora and fauna or take it home – includes seashells and plants.
- Don’t overstay even 1 day or work here on a holiday visa – even volunteering.
If you get caught breaking the law be polite to police and those in authority and remain calm! Ask nicely to contact your hotel or consular mission.
Sri Lanka is essentially a giant and very beautiful wildlife park. Wildlife reserves of Bundala, Udawalawe and Yala attract visitors with rare close-up elephant encounters, tropical birds, leopards and a vast array of magnificent creatures. Incredible biodiversity is all around us; the UNESCO World Natural Heritage location of Sinharaja Rain Forest is just 2 hours by road as are seasonal opportunities to see whales, dolphins and other marine-life. Alternatively or in addition to, visit rock temples, heritage sites and sea-accessible beaches. Take surfing lessons, go snorkelling, shop at Galle Fort and local produce markets. Explore Rekawa by tuk-tuk – its water tanks, paddy fields, beach coves and fishing harbour are just moments away – if kicking off your shoes at the pool doesn’t quite satisfy!
Typical activities with approximate return-trip cost for 2 adults:
Visit a wildlife reserve/national park… cRs.20,000
- Transport to/from (and drivers waiting time).
- Park entrance fees.
- Park transport & guide (open-sided/Jeep type).
- [Children 6–12 yrs @ 50%].
- Choice of departure times: early/mid-morning or early afternoon, please ask for info
Visit Galle Fort & low country tea estate (depart 09.00)… cRs.9,500
- Transport to/from (and drivers waiting time).
- Discover tea.
- Shop in 300 year old Dutch walled fort.
- Take a swim, lunch and explore
- Walking tour options – please ask for info.
Mulkirigala Buddhist Rock Temple (depart 14.30)… cRs.3,400
- Climb 500+ steps to enjoy a guided visit to this fascinating temple /Scenic views.
- See bats take flight at sunset.
- Rs.1,000 (per visitor) donation recommended.
Whale & Dolphin watching (Nov–Mar depart 04.45)… cRs.23,000
- Transport to/from (and drivers waiting time).
- Boat fees.
Sinharaja Rain Forest – UNESCO location (depart 05.00)… cRs.18,000
- Transport to/from (and drivers waiting time).
- Entrance & Guide.
- c4 hour guided hike.
Swimming at Mahwella beach – 30mins away… cRs.2,200
- Swim and enjoy a beach-shack lunch on a beautiful paradise beach.
- Accessible sea for most of the year – please ask first.
Surf Lessons – individual or group – beginner/intermediate/advanced…USD45
- 2 hour inclusive packages are arranged between 11am -3pm (2 days in advance).
- Includse all you need for an exhilarating morning or afternoon!
- Subject to availability/weather and sea conditions.
- Please ask us for more info.
12. For the curious… how on earth?
Almost every day I’m asked how on earth I came to be here…
Towards the end of a two week budget holiday (Dec 1997) thanks to an epiphany if you like, I became utterly mesmerised by this islands chaotic beauty and along with it, its peoples’ resourcefulness and great charm. From that moment, my head, heart, body and soul took root here…
“Six wooden cabanas and a little wooden house with a hammock on the veranda” set amongst, windswept palms of a tropical beach garden, seemed a perfect mid-life crisis solution!! Anidyllic way to combine imagined but hitherto elusive creativity with loafing around under the sun throughout the autumn of life – or so I thought…
Buckingham Place – the working-title stuck…
got off to its first false start (one of many) 5 years and several adventures later – in June 2002; with the cementing of foundations for the first “wooden cabana”. Within a month of being sketched it was fit to move into and, became my pre-tsunami home for 18 happy months. Through accomplishing this task too easily perhaps, coupled with a reality check that if I wanted to live here long term (my heart told me I did) then I’d need greater challenge and financial security than a simple cabana joint; the concept or dream of building the hotel as it is today was born as the cabanas idea faded. With no notion this bright idea might become all-consuming or keep my pockets empty for many years to come, blissful ignorance of the task ahead led me to embark on it like an innocent abroad – and like a bull in a china shop!
My ‘vision’ some generously call it, was no more than a naïve dream; tick the build something in my lifetime box, quit the rat-race, to live a more meaningful less stressful life in Paradise. In truth, life at that time was pretty ok, save for bleak UK winters! But more oddly, I hadn’t built so much as a garden wall before ‘having a go’ at an entire hotel – some say unkindly thisshows!! Neither had I lived outside my own country or comfort zones, nor wired a plug on a kettle successfully. Devoid of all fear and quite recklessly, this was my leap of faith. Time to ‘discover’ myself – away from scornful eyes of sane friends and my dear (since late) father – who’d surely if quite rationally question my sanity before lecturing me how to do it properly? My thought was that if I failed, I’d slip back into England quietly with no-one any wiser to my folly.
February 2003; work began in earnest on a self-indulgent hobby to turn life upside down, one which became by the day, ever more extreme, costly and worrisome. Knowledge, skill deficits and I admit freely; blind foolhardiness, wild cost over-runs, the 2004 Asian Tsunami, an exhausting hospital rehabilitation project and not least, numerous crises’ with contractors and from within, all served magnificently to stall dream realisation for many years, in fact until 2010 when the hotel opened!
5 years behind schedule…
having shed much blood sweat and tears – and many cheque books, on October 1st 2010 the gates finally opened, albeit to an incomplete dream.Miraculously I can boast however, since the gates did open, this modest place and cast of heroes has put smiles on virtually every single face passing through them. And with those smiles came opportunity. Skills were and are still being learnt, careers begun, outlooks broadened, houses built, families fed and for most, not least me, life blossomed. It wasn’t all rosy along the way, but broadly speaking the hotel has become what it was meant to be – albeit many years later than envisaged. Oceanfront @ Buckingham Place opened 13 years after its foundations were laid – a full 6 years after opening the hotel! I imagine that Buckingham Place and Oceanfront will continue to evolve, drawing largely upon inspiration from loyal, enthusiastic and amazingly supportive guests. Please be assured though, this place wont evolve at the cost of what you or I came here for – our escape, or by losing its identity or what I pompously call its hospitality centric ethos
As hospitality newcomer I’ll remain on a learning curve for some time. But, for those contemplating a mid-life change of direction I hope my humble message isn’t lost… If I can do it then anyone can, if they simply dare to follow their most ridiculous dream.
Once again, welcome to Buckingham Place & Oceanfront and thank you for coming – I hope you enjoy being here as much as I do! Nick.
Post script: Lucky for me, brilliant or thopaedic surgeons have kept me on my feet since major surgery 30 years ago – albeit for short distances, slowly and with the help of an elegant cane. Please, if you see me with my feet-up somewhere don’t be shy, feel free to join me as I happily share my time, space and beer with nice friendly folk… thank you.
Your good custom and kind support sustains
a team of 60 Sri Lankans – Thank you very much for coming!
(hotel) Buckingham Place
(restaurant) Oceanfront @ Buckingham Place