Visitors to Sri Lanka will have the rare opportunity to step inside the private world of one of Asia's most celebrated architects when his country estate, Lunuganga, opens as an exclusive boutique hotel later this year.
Geoffrey Bawa, widely acknowledged as the "father of Asian architecture" and also as Sri Lanka's most prolific and influential architect, created a 25-acre tropical garden over several decades after purchasing an abandoned rubber estate, on the south west coast of the island at Bentota in l948.
The Italian-inspired garden, with spectacular views over Dedduwa Lake and the tropical rainforest beyond, is dominated by tall trees which throw fascinating dappled light on rolling green fields. There are hardly any flowers except for wild hibiscus, ipomea, jasmine, mugerin and alamanda "“ all casually planted to accentuate the background of green.
Bawa, who died at the age of 83 in 2003, said of his estate: "Lunuganga from the start was to be an extension of the surroundings "“ a garden within a larger garden…with the greatest beauty being sunlight filtering through trees".
Within the tropical garden paradise sits Bawa's four-bedroom plantation house "“simply designed around delightful courtyards and verandahs.
All four bedrooms feature not only Bawa's own uniquely-designed antique furniture but also artwork from well-known artists who have visited Lunuganga over the years.
In addition to the plantation house, there is a two bedroom studio, set at the edge of a cinnamon plantation – originally planted in the eighteenth century. Set high on the hill overlooking the lake to the south, the studio provides guests with absolute privacy.
Sri Lanka Tourist Board Chairman (SLTB), Mr Udaya Nanayakkara, said there is something very special about Lunuganga.
"It very much reflects the creativity, the sensitivity, and the genius of Geoffrey Bawa. To have the opportunity to visit the gardens, or to stay in the residences, will provide a unique experience," he said.
Veteran hotelier Geoffrey Dobbs, who is managing the property, said Lunuganga is one of Bawa's precious lasting legacies.
"The estate provides guests from around the world with the chance to experience and keep alive his spirit," he said.
Lunuganga will operate from December to April each year and for the remainder of the year it will revert back to the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, which will continue the legacy of hosting artists from abroad, and continue to conduct garden tours.
There is an in-house chef on-hand to prepare a selection of authentic Sri Lankan dishes, using market-fresh produce purchased daily. Food will be additional to the cost of the rooms.
Room rates & Booking
1. The plantation house's 4 rooms range from US$200 "“ US$300++ .
2. The Studio, which includes 2 en-suite rooms, is US$750 ++ (excluding taxes and service charge).
Free Independent travelers
Lunuganga is represented by Travel In Style Pvt Ltd, and is affiliated with the brand, SriLankaInStyle. The website is www.srilankainstyle.com can provide more information.
For more on Sri Lanka at ITKT