Cruising on Yathra and exploring Kurulubedda : Jetwing’s Eco-Retreats

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.

Jetwing Yathra Boat

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.

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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.

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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.

Jetwing Kurulubedda Private Dwelling

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.

lounge chairs Jetwing

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.

Jetwing Kurulubedda Dawn

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

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.

How Do You Go Beach Glamping? I’ll Take Mine with a Thatched Roof

I’m a sucker for thatched roofs. What summertime concert experience beats hanging out at a Parrothead’s thatched roof trailer bar while tailgating at a Jimmy Buffett concert? And there’s nothing more adventurous than a thatched roof villa in the middle of the jungle. The best place to enjoy a thatched roof villa, cabina, cabana, casita or palapa is on beach, accompanied a book or beverage of your choice. Here is a worldwide sampling of some fantastic thatched-roof-glamping-beach-book-and-beverage locations to consider for your next experiential journey.

Asia

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When a resort refers to itself as a “beach camp,” you instantly know you’ve found a place that understands beach glamping. Beach Camp Yala in Sri Lanka emphasizes a “passion for two things – wildlife camping and hospitality,” which is glamping, simply stated. A stay at Yala combines a great beach vacation with the option of a guided safari to view elephants, sloth bears, and the largest leopard population on the island.

Central America

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All of the luxury villas at El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize have thatched roofs, and the name of the game is snorkeling and diving- with the Belize Barrier Reef right on the doorstep. El Secreto, or “the secret,” may be named for the fact that it has a “privileged and secluded location on North Ambergris Caye,” a prized aspect of glamping done right.

South America

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If kite surfing is your game, or you just want to try it, the thatched roof cabanas of Pueblo Barrancas in Uruguay are the answer. The luxury glamping dwellings are nestled into the hillside in plain view of the beach, and yurts are offered as well.

Europe

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You’d be right to guess Spain as a European country with thatched roof huts near the beach. At Casas Karen, they are referred to as “chozas de paja,” or “straw huts.“ Glamping.com previously highlighted a report from The Guardian that named Casas Karen number 7 on the Top Ten Luxury Campsites in the world. It’s said to be on “one of the last wild coasts in Southern Spain.”

Africa

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As I stated before, placing the word “beach” in the name of the resort saves a whole lot of trouble, and another prime location has embraced this wisdom. Dugong Beach Lodge in Mozambique has 12 luxuriously appointed, air-conditioned (thatched roof!) chalets inside the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, all of which are exquisitely ensconced on a beautiful beach.

Oceania

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Located on a former cocoanut plantation on a fabulous beach on the Island of Fiji are 25 thatched roof “bures” and a luxury villa all exquisitely appointed by the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. It’s Fiji- need I say more? If so, check out Jen Bianco’s entertaining blog entry here.

The definition of glamping can vary widely. If glamping is your goal but you’re not sure, then adopt this simple rule of thumb- when in doubt, thatched roof=glamping. Now go hit the sand!