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Sunday, 16 January 2011





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Ulagalla Resort wins international award

For the first time in Sri Lanka, a boutique hotel has won the LEED 2009 Silver certification for its commitment toward sustainable development said Ranjaka de Mel, General Manager Marketing Ulagalla resort at a media briefing last week.

He said the prestigious award was bestowed on the Ulaglla resort by the U.S. Green Building Council for protection of the environment and for reducing operating costs. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Ulagalla Resort, is an up market boutique hotel located at Tirappane, Anuradapura built by International Construction Consortium (Pvt) Ltd ICC of the Finco Group.

The resort with 35 chalets was built on a 58 acre land on the Dambulla-Anuradhapura road was commissioned five months ago. It is close to two ancient reservoirs viz Ulagalla and Manamaduwa.

General Manager of Ulagalla Resort Ranjan Dissabandara said the resort had to qualify for 55 points and eight pre requisites to win the LEED Silver certification.

The resort has the largest solar panel system in the country that provides 50 percent of the energy needs of the hotel.

According to De Mel an important foreign visitor checked in to the resort last December.

He is the world famous fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro who spent six nights at the resort.

Referring to future projections ICC plans to build 60 chalets in the Kalpitiya area for which approval has been granted by the government. The company also plans to build chalets in the Trincomalee area he said.

ICC Vice Chairman, Harsha De Saram said they are mindful of the disturbance caused to the environment when constructing buildings.

"Whatever we do we work in harmony with the environment and that is why the Ulagalle project is dear to us. We want to set an example to the construction industry," he said.

According to Ulagalla Resort's Resident Manager Lalin De Mel the property previously named Ulagalle Walauwa has been restored to it's original state.

It is furnished with a distinctive character.

"The resort is conveniently located close to the cultural triangle and other historic sites," he said.

To the west of the resort is the famous Ritigala mountains that can be seen in the distance.

Beyond the resort is the Wanamaduwa reservoir.

The General Manager said that guests can order food around the clock to suit their appetites.

"This arrangement has been made to suit the times zones of western nations. Our clients come from the United Kingdom and France.

"Another feature at the Ulagalla Resort is the largest Solar Park in the country with a capacity of 125 KVA to provide 50 percent of the power requirements of the chalets.

Ulagalla Walawwa Resort (Pvt) Ltd, is a BOI approved project owned by the Finco Group of Companies.

Best landscaped hotel in Central Province

The trophies won at the Nagarayata Uyanwathu Award Presentation ceremony recently.

The Grand Hotel which has been the traditional winner of the Annual "April Blooms Flower Show" for over three decades bagging the 'Commercial Large' sector prizes for the Best Garden, Best Lawn, Best Fences and Hedges, Best Collection of Potted Plants, Best flower Arrangement (Large) has now also become a major competitor at provincial level, a spokesman for the Hotel said.

The Nagarayata Uyanwathu contest, a concept by the Governor of the Central Province, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, is a project carried out to develop home gardens, floriculture and landscaping covering the districts of Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya urban areas in collaboration with the Governor's Office of the Central Province and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Central Provincial Council, provincial Department of Agriculture, Provincial Department of Education, Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Department of Agrarian Development and the Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya Municipal Councils.

A spokesman said that Grand Hotel was the winner at the District level in 2009 and in 2010 and at the Provincial level was placed first runner-up in 2009 and became the winner in the year 2010 by bagging the "Governor's Cup".

This recognition is another feather in the cap of the Grand Hotel which has one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens with a wide array of flower plants.

It could even be called as one of the most environment friendly hotels, as it has even received international accolades for this activity, he said.

Sri Lanka: Yala National Park

Every flick of the leopard's tail and canine-flashing yawn is met with a flutter of camera shutters. Vying for the best view of the nonchalant feline are tourists packed into seven jeeps. The leopard, seemingly fully aware that he's at the top of the food chain, seems to be enjoying the attention. After 20 minutes, he stands up and, just like a domestic tabby, stretches, yawns and then wanders off into the thorny scrub jungle of Sri Lanka's Yala National Park.

The jeeps move on in search of elephants, crocodiles and buffalo. And, even better,crocodiles munching on buffalo.

The Sri Lankan leopard is a subspecies endemic to the Asian country.

Yala National Park has what is thought to be the highest density of leopards in the word, despite them being classified as endangered. In recent times, it's the tourists who have been scarcer.

In May 2008, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice read 'We advise against all travel to Yala National Park and the areas around it following a number of serious security incidents in the park in October and November 2007 and attacks in January 2008 close to the park.'

Advice for the rest of the country, especially the North and East, was even more inauspicious, warning of a high threat of terrorist attacks from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - known to everyone as the 'Tamil Tigers'.

By the time I arrived in Sri Lanka in October 2009, the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had announced the conflict between the government and a Tamil faction seeking an independent state was over, after the Tamil Tigers' leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed on May 18.

Before long, the FCO had retracted its warning about travelling to Trincomalee in the Tamil region of the North East and Yala National Park on the South coast.

Sri Lanka's most visited tourist attraction was open again.

On a hot, humid evening, after a successful day watching leopards and crocodiles eating buffalo, I have a candid chat with General Manager Yala Village Hotel.

"Until August 2007, this hotel was booked out by [mostly British] tourists.

Then in September they closed the park after some terrorist problems," he says.




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