Shangri-La Hambantota Resort & Spa

The scale of this five-star hotel, four hours south of Colombo, from the long winding road up to the huge open and airy lobby, makes for a grand entrance.

The resort sprawls across 60 hectares and the buildings maintain an ‘outdoor’ feel throughout, with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean.

The 300-room hotel, which opened in June, is on a section of largely untouched coastline, although developments are popping up, and there is an international airport just 35 minutes away in Mattala.

The property is broadly divided into two: one side for adults and honeymooners, with a spa and adult-only pool, and the other for families, with a kids’ pool and extensive play area.

There are five room categories, which either look out on to the ocean or the golf course. All the rooms are light and airy, with huge beds and sliding doors leading on to a balcony. Indigenous materials have been used in many of the furnishings and the decor is inspired by the colourful surroundings, primarily the turquoise and blues in the peacocks that wander among the resort’s hundreds of coconut trees.

The Presidential Suite has serious wow factor. This palatial pad comes with a 24-hour butler service, a spa treatment room and a hot tub on the balcony. There’s also a 10-seat dining table, kitchenette and a neighbouring suite for a guest’s entourage.

The hotel has several dining options. An all-day buffet serves an array of locally inspired dishes, such as crab jaffna curry and spicy dahl, as well as Western food.

Speciality dining comes in the form of Sera, which offers Asian fusion dishes in a more sophisticated setting with waiter service. For special occasions, the Chef’s Table is a dining experience for private parties in the hotel’s herb garden, with a personal chef who cooks in front of guests. The hotel is a good base for completely relaxing or embracing new sports. As well as an 18-hole golf course, there is a packed programme of activities, from morning yoga sessions by the pool to kite-flying and trampolining. Those after something a little more adrenaline-inducing can have a go on the flying trapeze, under the guidance of a professional instructor.

Table tennis, volleyball, archery and fitness classes are also on offer. The spa offers Chinese and Ayurvedic treatments, or guests can take a stroll around the onsite artisan Village, and see arts and crafts being made by locals.

If you want to venture outside the resort, staff will take you on a tour around the local village, where you can visit a Buddhist temple. A must-do for guests is a safari to Yala National Park in an open-top vehicle. It’s best to go early in the morning to see as many animals as possible, including elephants, leopards, monkeys and aquatic birds.

How much: A night’s B&B starts at £147 in low season and £223 in high.

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