Suriya Resort is an isolated haven located at Waikkala, on a peninsula flanked by the sea and the Ging Oya. At first glance the resort gives the impression of having manifested by itself from the woods and the ponds in the surroundings, rather than a man made structure.
The sea breeze blows freely through its open restaurants and swimming pool, the ivy embraces its walls and the mangroves live in perfect harmony alongside the built-in structures. The deep-purple water lilies bloom in the pond near the reception while a family of waterfowl peacefully swim where the water chalets stand.
Eric Suriyasena, the batic artist, whose fingertips created many a marvel, is the proud owner of Suriya Resort. “We give priority to preserve the river (Ging Oya). Nobody is allowed to pollute this part of the river. It is kept clean. Also, we don’t release any effluents into the river,” he says.
The quiet secluded spot away from the bustling noise attracts many a nature lover to the Suriya Resort. “A person who wants to write a book or bird-watch can come and do it here because it is relaxing and there is virtually no disturbance. We don’t play loud music here. We only play the guitar, the violin or the piano. That’s how we keep the sound pollution at a minimal,” Suriyasena reasons.
Prior to the building of the hotel, the location used to be a mud pit where clay was taken for a tile factory. Later on it was a prawn farm.
“There were no plants, but we started growing them. Whatever plants that naturally grew along the river we left untouched,” recalls Suriyasena.
The architecture has incorporated a lot of wood than cement. Even the flooring of the upper floors is made of wood.
“It was quite expensive to build. My son (Nilan) is a creative-minded guy. He wanted to create a different hotel that goes hand in hand with nature and eye-pleasing woody textures,” says Suriyasena.
Nilan Suriyasena is Suriya Resort’s Deputy Chairman and his younger sibling Ninesh Suriyasena functions as the Managing Director.
The eco-friendly resort provides a main attraction to the local as well as international clientele. “Even for the children it is a pleasant place to be since it is full of nature and there is the sea, fresh air and the open spaces to indulge in. There is a sanctuary filled with birds. The wooded area is unique on its own. It is the only place where the plant ‘gin pol’ grows in the country,” says Suriyasena.
Located only 30 minutes away from the Bandaranaike International Airport, the area also provides easy access to Mannar, Kalpitiya, Anuradhapura and Willpattu according to General Manager, Lal Dissanayake.
“People go whale-watching or dolphin-watching and come here because they like the environment,” adds Suriyasena.
The location is also rich in nativeware with local artisans creating their masterpieces in batiks, tiles, clay pots, fibre and more which are tourist attractions.
“During the two years we have been in operation, we have created a name for our food. People tend to come back here just for our food. They also have recommended us to their friends. We take personal care to guarantee the satisfaction of our customers. We never refer to our in-house guests by their room number. We care enough to address them by their name. It is small things like these that make people happy,” says Dissanayake.
For the opening ceremony of the Suriya Grand Ballroom, Nilan tasted all the food being served to ensure its quality. This is the standard of hospitality Suriya is proud of. “We had a large spread with hundreds of desserts that day. Our staff did a fantastic job,” says Suriyasena.
The new banquet hall is located away from the hotel to ensure the privacy of in-house guests.
In the future jogging tracks, a children’s play area, horse riding around the village, yoga sessions and catamaran rides along the Ging Oya to observe local fishermen at work will be added to the many enjoyments at Suriya Resort. A deck would overlook the river for the purpose of reading, or relaxing. The location is a diverse cluster of ecosystems, including coastal, river and brackish water.
“We treat both national and international clientele the same way. We don’t discriminate the locals. There was a 30-year-long war in this country and it was the patronage of the local clientele that sustained the tourism industry,” opined Suriyasena.