Loving it by the Lagoon – Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa
The waters of the Negombo Lagoon lap impatiently along the sides of the broad wooden deck that borders the garden of the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa. A kayak and boat tethered to the pier bob restlessly on the waters. The wind is picking up and the sky darkens as the rains approach from the far end of the lagoon. The sight across the waters is eerie, yet fascinating.
Despite the inclement weather, I am happy to be at the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa. This water front resort is as comfortable as it gets. Room 102 is small, yet colorful and comfortable with all the trappings of a small luxury hotel. I have my cable TV, a mini refrigerator, the option of brewing my own tea or coffee, plenty of fluffy towels and a nice sit-out that overlooks the pool and garden and a book to read. Hence, the rains are the least of my problems.
Arriving in the afternoon, the drive was pleasant and took me less than an hour to get to Negombo from Colombo. Don’t be put off by the narrow road that turns off from the main Colombo road because less than ¼ of a mile down is the imposing entrance to the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa. The reception area sparsely decorated leads off the huge car park and I am warmly welcomed by the staff and the affable General Manager Ms Nayana Rathnayake who oozed with enthusiasm as she describes the property!
Owned and managed by Negombo based entrepreneur, Somanadan Ganeshanadan the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa has been his dream come true. This 22 room property is built on two acres of prime land that borders the Negombo Lagoon. Set apart from the bedrooms is the dining area which offers guests the choice of indoor or outdoor seating. A beautifully manicured garden divides the waterfront deck from the main building. A delightful tree house, a romantic retreat for many guests, lies partially hidden on one side with the view of the vast expanse of Negombo lagoon which covers an area of almost 35 kilometers making this the largest lagoon on the West Coast of Sri Lanka.
Negombo, once known as a small fishing village has now turned out to be a popular destination for its clean sandy beaches and the tropical mangroves that border the lagoon. With easy access to and from the Bandaranaike International Airport, this town is also popular for short transit passengers who prefer to stay in the vicinity instead of driving to Colombo for a night or two.
Once governed by the Dutch and Portuguese, many of the buildings and homes in Negombo still display Colonial architecture. At the end of the XVIth century, a Fort built by the Portuguese was taken over by the Dutch in 1640 but recaptured by the Portuguese less than a year later. Visitors can still see the remains of the Fort and its arched gateway as well as the remains of an ancient cemetery with monuments of the Dutch period.
For this highly Catholicized populace, the St Mary’s Church also lies as a testament to that era. Also in Negombo is the Angurukaamulla Temple which is one of the oldest temples in Sri Lanka with ancient paintings, murals and a wealth of stories of a bygone era, narrated by monks and locals of the area. Another famous attraction close to Negombo is the famous Munneswaran Hindu Temple, one of three significant temples in Sri Lanka.
For eco-friendly tourists, the wetland habitat of Muthurajawela has a varied assortment of birds and reptiles that could be seen via a boat ride that can be easily arranged by the Amagi Lagoon. These densely populated mangroves are rife with water birds such as cormorants, herons, egrets, gulls, terns and other shorebirds and also provides fishermen with their supply of crabs, shrimp and other shelled fish. Apart from the boat ride, the Resort also offers kayaks to paddle and I could see lots of young children having a whale of a time in the water.
Needless to say, that evening I opted for dinner outdoors. With fresh fish and prawns supplied by Mr. Ganeshanandan, the Chef has grilled them both to perfection and I could hear other guests pass on their compliments to the Chef.
Designed by Architect Sandun Fernando, the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa has also got ample space and the facilities to entertain large crowds and has become a popular venue for local weddings. Up above the reception area is a gym, a Spa and a conference hall which again, can accommodate up to 300 guests.
The azure blue pool provides the perfect setting for sunbathers and the lagoon provides the opportunity for some water sports. I am told that the next phase would include a couple of water bungalows. This will be a novel concept and one that will be popular for sure.
I have no complaints about the service and the Sri Lankan smiles are showered on all the guests. The rooms come is three categories: Deluxe, Superior and Standard, all of which are colorful and equally comfortable. I love the little private sit out attached to all the rooms with a view of the gardens and lagoon. I sit through the evening and enjoy the vivid sunset as it cast its colors over the lagoon. Soon after, a cool wind blows across the pool and big, fat raindrops form a pattern over its waters. Once again, the entire lagoon is engulfed in a haze of rising water vapor and I scoot back into the room to avoid getting soaked in the rain. It has been a quiet and relaxed weekend at the Amagi Lagoon Resort and Spa.