Dearth of flights to nearby airport appears to have delayed resort’s opening, writes Adam Nebbs. Also in travel news this week: a three-for-two deal at top Koh Samui resort, business-class deals for Phnom Penh, and a history of camping holidays
Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa will open on the south coast of Sri Lanka on June 1. Under construction since 2012, it was expected to open in 2014, a year after the launch of the nearby Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. Unfortunately, the new airport failed to attract many airlines, and most of those that did use it, including national carrier SriLankan Airlines, have since pulled out, leaving just flydubai and Rotana Jet bringing in passengers, and only from the United Arab Emirates.
Consequently, the resort is offering a 25-seater private luxury bus service for the four-hour drive from Colombo airport, with “refreshments, cold towels and snacks served during the drive along the scenic coastal route”. Sri Lankan carrier Cinnamon Air is due to commence scheduled flights from Colombo to Mattala Rajapaksa International today, however. The 300-room beachfront property is surrounded by an 18-hole, par-70 golf course.
There is also an on-site facility that, says the resort, “is dedicated to preserving Sri Lanka’s traditional artisan communities and features four traditional huts where the craftsmen skilfully create, exhibit and sell their items, from pottery and ceramics, to wood carvings and weavings”.
Hambantota was hit particularly hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, so visitors, whether coming by plane, luxury coach or any other means, will no doubt find themselves very welcome.