Jungle Beach Resort, Kuchchaveli
What’s so special?
This pioneering hotel aims to attract visitors to this once-troubled region of Sri Lanka, which is now safe for tourists. The hotel is situated on a strip of jungle between a large Indian Ocean beach and a tropical lagoon.
How they rate it
“Jungle Beach has a distinct look, described by its website as ‘luxurious treehouse’,” says Johnny Morris in The Daily Telegraph. “Teak pillars… palm thatch and a jungle hot tub work together to create the impression of a castaway’s castle.” The service is excellent, particularly “when you consider that 45% of the staff are local Tamil trainees new to the hospitality industry”.
Choose a Jungle or Beach cabin over the Lagoon cabins, which “face inland, are cheaper and less cheerful”. The better cabins have “polished concrete floors and traditional Sri Lankan high ceilings” as well as “open-air rainwater showers and chic, spartan bathrooms”.
The restaurant serves “international cuisine and a range of Sri Lankan dishes, with an emphasis on local seafood”.
From $193 for a lagoon cabin with breakfast, rising to $280 for a beach cabin (www.ugaescapes.com/junglebeach; call 00 94 11 2331 322).
Palpatha Eco Safari Lodge
What’s so special?
For years conservationists enthused about the leopards, elephants and birds at Wilpattu National Park, but tourists couldn’t visit as it was a mine-strewn Tamil Tiger stronghold. But now the mines and the Tamil Tigers are gone, replaced by Palpatha, a beautiful safari camp built by private investor and conservationist, Jeevaka Perera.
How they rate it
“Jeevaka has truly understood the concept of sustainable tourism,” says Chris Haslam in The Times. “The chalets were built by local craftsmen. The electricity comes from the sun. The food comes from local farmers and the recipes from their grandmothers.”
The accommodation is fairly basic, with two simple chalets and some semi-permanent tents. But you are here for the safari, rather than a luxury pool break. Head into the national park to see Sambar deer, elephants and, if you are lucky, a leopard.
“Breakfast is a bowl of kola kanda, a porridge made from coconut and rice, sweetened with jiggery (palm sugar),” says Haslam. For lunch there’s chicken curry, while “dinner is a multi-course feast, with drivers, guides, owner and guests eating together”.
Chalets start from £96 a night, all inclusive. Find out more at www.palpatha.com, or call 00 94 7703 10310.
The best sailing holidays
For sailors visiting Switzerland, “the famous Maloja wind on Lake Silvaplana makes the area ideal”, says Lucy Gillmore in The Independent. The Nira Alpina hotel (Niraalpina.com) has a three-night sailing package that includes two two-hour sailing lessons, a beach barbecue, massage and dinner. It costs from £775 per person.
Explore (Explore.co.uk) offers an eight-day Greek Cruise and Island Walking holiday. “You live on a traditional sailing boat, finding turquoise bays, snorkelling in rocky coves and trekking through olive groves and hillside villages to ancient sites,” says Gillmore. It costs from £870 per person, including flights, six nights on a boat and one night in a hotel.
If you need to brush up on your sailing skills, try Falmouth – it’s where British Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie perfected his skills. Mylor Yacht Harbour and its sailing school offer “bespoke sailing holidays from £540 per person (Mylorharbourside.com) for a family of four, including one week’s luxury self-catering accommodation overlooking the water and a five-day Royal Yachting Association sailing course”.
“If you’ve money to burn,” charter the latest addition to the Y.CO fleet (Y.co): Tiara, a 54-metre sailing yacht (pictured), which is cruising in the Mediterranean this summer. It has an open-air cinema and hot tub, while “the front deck can be embellished with a Bedouin tent”. It sleeps up to 12 and costs from £145,000 per week, including staff.