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Dumbara Hotels to open US$ 3.5 mn wellness theme resort near Knuckles Mountain range

10 March 2015 04:25 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Chandeepa Wettasinghe

Dumbara Hotels, a company of the MAK Alliance Group will be opening Santani; a wellness themed resort, this November on the foothills of the Knuckles Mountain range.

“This is the first wellness resort in Sri Lanka. We were surprised that there aren’t any here because world wellness tourism is growing at 12 percent, while the rest is growing at 7 percent. It’s a US$ 110 billion market,” Dumbara Hotels CEO Vickum Nawagamuwage said.

The resort will be developed in two phases. The initial phase includes 20 chalets built at a cost of US$ 3.5 million, while the 2nd phase would follow depending on demand. Current plans are for 30 additional rooms in phase 2 which would cost US$ 2 million.

In addition to its theme of sustainable mind and body, the architecture of the hotel will also contribute to environmental sustainability. It was designed by architect Thisara Thanapathy.

Nawagamuwage said that resort buildings and chalets will be built on 4 wooden pillars which would stick out vertically from the ground, similar to ancient ‘Ambalamas,’ creating minimum impact on the environment.

He added that all tapped groundwater would be retreated and repurposed for other activities.

Investor Chaminda Rajapakse said that the resort would attempt to recreate the natural ecosystem that existed in the 48 acre land area before it was acquired for tea plantations.
Further, the resort will not be air conditioned due to its location and architecture which allows for free movement of chill air currents, removing 70 percent of the energy costs other hotels bear.

According to Nawagamuwage, the non-air-conditioning would add to its wellness theme as well.

“Owing to the advancement of technology, today we live in a world of seamless connectivity. While this has many benefits, it has also taken away the much needed emotional break at the end of a working day… We believe it is high time to change that and revitalize ourselves and balance our lives in a fun way,” he spoke of the inspiration of avoiding stress and ‘detoxing.’

The hotel would offer 7-14 day packages, costing around US$500-600 a night.

“When it comes to wellness, price doesn’t matter,” Nawagamuwage said.

He said that the target market would be executives and professionals above the age of 35 from developed economies such as Dubai, Europe and Singapore.

Visitors could experience salt baths, yoga and pilates sessions and meditative sessions on mindfulness with experts and local monks.

Rajapaksa and Nawagamuwage also spoke of interesting activities that would be organized for their customers in the future.

The capital for the resort was raised by a handful of Sri Lankan expatriates, which Nawagamuwage said added flexibility and helped the business concept endure many false starts it had in the past.

This is the first property developed by Dumbara Hotels.
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