As I seek the horizon on Bentota River, a sense of unperturbed relaxation takes over me. I hear and see no one; the falling rain and a sparse flutter of leaves are my only companions.
I arrived on a rainy afternoon from Galle, to a silent Dedduwa boat house, Yathra by Jetwing. No one was expecting me, although they should have. It was in fact, best. I took to myself to intrude; I walked down the graveled path, out onto a murky garden of sorts and there she was, pastoral and gracious, the Yathra by Jetwing, anchored by the riverbank.
I came a long way to see the first of its kind houseboat in Sri Lanka. Inspired by the Kerala waters (more specifically, the Indian Kettuvallan), the island’s inaugural floating hotel appeared to be as peaceful as I had expected it to be.
Simply crafted from bamboo, with wooden, thatched roof, the houseboat is at the same time, a green, rustic vision of elegance, thanks to the craftsmanship of environmental architect Sunela Jayewardene.
Featuring two air-conditioned bedrooms complete with their own private balconies and enclosed bathrooms, the boat includes most amenities you may need or find in an otherwise high-end hotel (slippers, robes, hair drier, iron, toiletries, etc). Ok, no Jacuzzi! But who needs a Jacuzzi when you’re leisurely cruising the river?
A soft, nautical interior design can be noticed in the bedrooms as well as the entrance parlor that links the rooms: vintage chests, navy blues and seashell motifs.
I walk up and down the teak-wood floors and notice the deck aft, used for dining. Guests can enjoy their meals here, in the open towards the lake, as service is provided via the galley adjoining the after deck.
There is also a sun deck above the cabins for guests to enjoy.
Under the direction of Captain Koralage, retired from the Sri Lankan Navy after 22 years, the cruise is set to traverse the calm Bentota River starting from Yathra by Jetwing, all the way to Awittewa, a small village some 11 miles away.
Similarly, an escape to Jetwing Kurulubedda is an eco retreat in itself. Concealed amidst the foliage of a wild environment, near the village of Mahamodera on the Southern Coast, you’ll surely feel in your very own secret forest.
Rustic in appearance, each of the two villas at Jetwing Kurulubedda has been aesthetically built and adorned so as to perfectly blend in with the surrounding paddy fields. The facilities however, are completely modern, to fittingly accommodate its guests.
A stay at Jetwing Kurulubedda is clearly best suited for couples that wish for absolute tranquility. Each of the two dwellings cloistered into the woods opens to a large terrace and furthermore onto a canopy of trees. There is also a private plunge pool at the base of each one.
And that’s not the best part. Whether you want to dine on your own terrace, or further down into the coppice, the chef will be there at your disposal: with the dinner of your request, where and when you desire.
Given the success of the property and authenticity of the experience, Jetwing Kurulubedda has plans to expand to four dwellings total, as well as another pool.
Although I didn’t stay the night, I thoroughly enjoyed the silence, disturbed only by the sound of crickets and birds.
I visited the Yathra by Jetwing houseboat in early May, ahead of its inauguration. This review is based on my brief visit on property. Guests can now book various packages, to include roam and board, as well as cruises. For rates and availability, please visit their listing pages, here on Glamping.com.
Image Credits: Jetwing Kurulubedda, Yathra by Jetwing, Monica Suma
Monica Suma is a Romanian-American freelance travel writer and blogger, always on the hunt for art, good food and all things Cuba. Through storytelling and an insatiable pursuit for whimsy, she contributes to a variety of publications such as Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, Business Traveller and more. Follow her adventures live on Instagram and Twitter.