Luxury Travel to Sri Lanka

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Tea Leaves and Sea Breezes

George at Kahanda KandaAbout George Cooper 

George first came to Sri Lanka in 1999 to find out more about where his Great-Grandfather and Grandfather had lived. As rubber planters in Ceylon from 1860, they had owned two estates not far from Horana.

After a stay at the Sun House in Galle, George was immediately captivated by the island and the Sri Lankan people and, on the fourth day of his visit, agreed to buy a small tea plantation near Koggala. Having previously worked as an interior designer for 30 years with clients from all over the world, George immediately put his skills to good use to create what is now the award-winning boutique hotel, Kahanda Kanda.

In his free time, George likes to go sailing in Weligama Bay in his Hobie catamaran, go on road trips around Sri Lanka, or travel around Asia to buy exciting items to sell in his exclusive shop in the Fort, the KK Collection. 

An Interview with George

What makes Sri Lanka unique? 
The fact that it is stuck in a time warp giving it so much charm, character and innocence.

Three absolute Sri Lankan musts? 
Drink a thambili (king coconut) at a roadside kade (stall), trek through the Bogalantalawa valley and experience the Hindu Mayurapathy Chariot Festival in Colombo in July – watch the men in a state of devotional trance dangle from hooks!

By the sea or in the hills?
Definitely in the hills; I cannot get enough of the mountain air!

Favourite talk? 
A chat with your local three wheeler driver. You can learn a lot! 

Favourite shop? 
Antiques in Colombo and the fabric shops of Dean’s Place, Maradana. They are filled to the brim with fabulous linens and cottons.

Favourite drive? 
I love the drive through the rolling green pastures of Ambewela; it is such a rare sight in Sri Lanka.

Top thrill? 
Hot air ballooning over Galle. Fabulous!

Top chill spot? 
Anywhere high in the hills of the Maskeliya Valley.

Favourite food? 
Pineapple curry cooked by my Muslim chef. Delicious! 

Best place for rice and curry? 
I love Galapita for its delicious organic vegetable curries.

Favourite room? 
The incredible Palmer Suite at Castlereagh Bungalow (Tea Trails). Elegant relaxation with wonderful views.

Favourite bathroom? 
The Blue Room at the Dutch House (Galle) for watching the monkeys swing from tree to tree while you are in the bath.

Best festival? 
Galle Literary Festival; it’s a great few days.

Is there a soundtrack to your Sri Lanka journey? 
Cafe Del Mar – 25th Anniversary edition.

You’re going on a Sri Lankan journey; what do you never leave home without? 
My duck down pillow, my sarong for all occasions, my iPod to drown out the drone of traffic, a water bottle, a packet of home-grown cashew nuts and toilet paper as Sri Lankan loos never have any.