The Heritage Ella:
The charm of rural hospitality
The Heritage Ella, may sound like one of the many new properties
springing up in the once sleepy hamlet of Ella, but it has a pioneering
legacy. As the Ella Rest House it was the only place for travellers to
stay in Ella while in transit to the east or south coasts.
In 2000 it was transformed into a more upmarket property and given
the name Grand Ella Motel, and helped to stimulate the awakening of Ella
as a convenient upcountry retreat. To meet the demand for accommodation
through the increase in the number of visitors, hillside guest houses
opened to cater to backpacking travellers. However, none can match the
view, the location, the service and the sheer splendour of what is to
become The Heritage, Ella.
Part of the Galle Face Hotel Group, through its Ceylon Hotels
Corporation properties, the Grand Ella Motel is to undergo a striking
transformation. This is part of the policy introduced by the chairman of
the Galle Face Hotel Group, Sanjeev Gardiner, to make the group's rural
properties attractive to domestic and foreign tourists.
The project to implement the improvement in standards and
infrastructure has been entrusted to a team headed by the veteran
hotelier, the group's Senior Vice President, Chandra Mohotti, and Vice
President Chethiya Perera, who is in charge of operations. The hotel is
poised at the edge of a view that seems to go on forever. It is 1,041m
above sea level and to have breakfast on the lawn overlooking Ella Gap
is to enjoy a culinary experience that inspires memories of the scenery
as well as of the cuisine.
To the left of the Gap view is a mountain known as Small Adam's Peak,
while to the right is Rawana Kandha (Ella Rock). The hills stretching to
the far horizon include the Maha Galbokka Rock, the Hambegamuwa Mountain
Range, the Kotawehara Gala Mountain Range, the Bubula Kandha and
Bambaragama Kandha Mountain Ranges. Beyond the mountains the southern
seacoast twinkles in the distance.
There are only 10 rooms at the hotel offering the privilege of such
an extraordinary view. Landscaping of the gardens is enhancing the view
even more, with sunshades for blissful relaxation on the lawns. All the
rooms have balconies or terraces, where meals can be served. Two rooms
share a large terrace overlooking the breathtaking scenery.
The rooms are thoughtfully furnished, with blissfully comfortable
beds, and streamlined bathrooms introduced by renovation. Service to the
rooms is swift as none of them are far from the restaurant or the
central, open-sided reception pavilion that adjoins the forecourt where
visitors' cars park.
Non-residents are welcome for meals and the hotel has won a
reputation for its uniquely Sri Lankan cuisine. All spices are ground in
the hotel's kitchen, not pre-prepared in catering packs. While buffet
meals are available when business is brisk, guests can request whatever
they require and have it cooked.
Juice is freshly squeezed and presented with fruit garnishes. There
are even special non-alcoholic cocktails for children. Wines are first
class and, like the cocktails and spirits, sustaining the
value-for-money reputation The Heritage, Ella, had as a rest house. In
spite of its good food, good prices, stunning view and ideal location,
the hotel would not be worth a night's stay if it weren't for the
Everyone works together to make guests welcome, happily pausing in
their duties to explain the attractions of the area. This makes the
hotel a delightful base for several days, not just overnight, since
there is so much to do in the area. As well as sightseeing, trekking the
hills and checking waterfalls, day trips are possible to Badulla,
Bandarawela and Haputale, where Lipton's Seat and the Dambatenne Tea
Factory (the longest in Sri Lanka) can be visited.
Ella and legend are intertwined. Sita, the beautiful wife of Rama, is
said to have been hidden in the caves at Ella by Ravana, King of Lanka,
according to Ramayana, the great Indian epic dating to more than 1,000
years before Christ. Ella is 240km from Colombo Fort and a perfect
transit stop on the way to Arugam Bay on the east coast, or down through
Wellawaya to Kataragama, Yala and Tissamaharama in the south. To stay at
The Heritage Ella, is to experience the charm of rural hospitality, as
well as possibly the best and most convenient scenic location in Sri