Idyllic Maalu Maalu Resorts and Spa
Sun. Sand. Sea… and one hellava superb location. Off limits for years (during the war), Pasikuda has held a magical allure for travellers who enjoy the sun, sand and ocean. With miles and miles of pristine beaches and clear warm waters, Pasikuda is now accessible to visitors who thrive on beach holidays. And located just south of the bay is a stunning property: the Maalu Maalu Resorts and Spa.
Departing from Colombo at the crack of dawn was a great idea. It is worth mentioning that, since the end of the war, the roads along the way have been rebuilt and are a pleasure to drive on. Off a slightly beaten track at Pasikuda is the turn off to this much talked about place which is to be the pioneering property on the beach.
Velaitham the retired mustachioed doorman greeted us, palms together and a wide smile. This retired fisherman is now the mascot at Maalu Maalu and embodies the theme of the property. Pretty lasses, hired from the community, welcomed us with cold towels and a refreshing lemon sorbet. With not much ado, our check-in was sorted and we were hurrying across the walkway to Chalet # 14 which was on the upper deck of the split level chalet.
The centrepiece of the hotel is the deep blue tiled pool around which the hotel envelopes itself with the lobby forming the base of the “U” and the chalets fanning out towards the sea. The outermost of the chalets are the suites looking out to the ocean with magnificent vistas of the unspoilt sandy beach stretching out for miles.
At mid morning, the sun was scorching and the air-conditioned room was a sanctuary we entered with relief. A spacious room with cable TV, hospitality tray and comfortable beds and a toilet as large as the room, thoughtfully equipped with two wash basins and a shower room with ceiling to floor glass cubes provided a welcome change from the usual claustrophobic cubicles in most hotels. But more immediate concerns drove us out of the rooms into the dining area for a late breakfast. We tucked into tasty local fare though western continental fare was available too. The staff was delightfully friendly, responding in courteous English, though the service at times left a little to be desired. However, this was a minor concern and never once did it become anything more than just that.
During our time at breakfast we were told of the difficulties the management encountered during the construction phase of the hotel. Keen to find out how the local community had benefited from all this activity we made a foray into Valachchenai, the nearest town with Anton the hotel’s resident manager in tow. In Valachchenai we met Hajjiar, the local lumber and timber merchant. With twinkling eyes and an ever present smile he explained how up to 300 workers mostly from the neighbourhood had been employed at times to complete work on the hotel. So valued had been his contribution to the project that subsequently he had received many requests for his services and supplies. Obviously Maalu Maalu was well under way in discharging their CSR commitments.
Driving back we noticed numerous foundations of hotels and other properties springing up along the coast. Maalu Maalu stood lone sentinel but this would soon change as no less that 13 more properties were scheduled to open their doors within the next two years or so. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry would need to be well marketed to fill all these beds.
By late afternoon the heat of the sun was at an ebb and the calm sea was a treat not to be resisted. Watching the sun going down behind the hotel in a blaze of colours, just a few hotel guests in the water with us, miles of empty beach receding away I couldn’t help but wonder that it rarely got better than this.
By night the hotel’s ambiance morphs into a tastefully lit cosy atmosphere. The pool is beautifully lit with submerged lights studding the pool much in the fashion of a star studded night sky, which was what we saw as we gazed up. Our appetite whetted by the dip in the sea, the aroma of freshly barbecued meat was irresistible and we tucked in to a tasty dinner with the ever obliging staff in attendance.
After dinner, as we lounged outside our room, the strains of the karaoke bar and disco situated on the top deck atop the lobby wafted across, we were in no mood to try out the floor.
The next morning, after breakfast, we walked the beach all the way to the deserted remnants of a fishing “wadiya” a couple of kilometres away. Clear azure blue waters dotted with coral and sea weed stretched out to the reef far away. The odd sea bird squawked overhead protesting our intrusion into their territory… a lone old man offered to sell us sea shells… sun, sea and sand… and Maalu Maalu framed this idyllic picture in the far distance.
Checking out of Maalu Maalu we left with a sense of having enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. A place certainly worth visiting again and despite what others may say or write about it, Maalu Maalu is a stunning place to visit and kudos to the developers.
The long road to Colombo beckoned…