Far up in the southern highlands of Ella, cozily nestled in 98 acres of dark green tea bushes is 98 Acres Resort and Spa. Arrive conventionally by train or car or why not take a 5 minute helicopter ride as we did. Our first view of the resort did not disappoint as 6 thatched, stone and timber chalets came into view. Shadowed by tall trees, they seemed to be carved into the mountain. A large dome shaped structure, also thatched with illuk (straw), just above the chalets seemed to be the main feature. The surrounding valleys and peaks of every shade of green made a perfect back drop.
The welcoming staff greeted us with smiles, cold towels and refreshing drinks and left us to explore. The spacious dome proved to be the main dining area with polished floors of restored railway sleepers and walls of rough cut stone. The rustic flavour continued with large squashy bean bags and strong, sturdy wooden furniture. We sipped our welcome drink on the open air deck, perched high above the world, enjoying the breathtaking view before us. A green panorama dotted with the brightly coloured saris of the tea pickers. In Colonial times this plantation was part of a larger estate named the ‘Southerland Tea Estate’, later taken over by UHE Group and renamed ‘Uva Greenlands’. The beauty of the location inspired the creation of this eco-friendly boutique resort.
After a speedy check in, a golf buggy took us to our room in an outwardly simple chalet of rough hewn rock and timber finish. We had been advised that the corner rooms were best though all the chalets had been designed to offer the best view of the beautiful scenery. Our choice was one of the deluxe rooms with a bath tub. Ceiling-high French doors right round the chalet gave us an unbroken view of the breathtaking surroundings. We ear marked the lovely timber balcony with its modern arm chairs as perfect spot for breakfast.
The resort is committed to eco friendliness and every effort had been made to be true to its ethos. All the timber used is discarded and restored railway sleepers and the illuk thatched roofs blend perfectly into their surroundings. Local artisans created the comfortable rustic furniture. 10 acres of land have been left undisturbed as a refuge for hill country birds. Golf buggies were hosen because they were battery powered and had zero emission and minimum sound pollution.
The chalets each comprise 12 rooms, 6 deluxe and 6 standard. All the rooms have generous balconies or verandas enjoying spectacular views. Free Wifi, 32 inch LCD tvs with cable, hot water showers, mini bars, hair dryers and in-room safes are in all the rooms
The deluxe rooms have hand cut rock walls, polished timber floors and stylish timber furniture. Beds are king sized with pristine white linen and the open- air showers are perfect for a refreshing moment. The wall to wall windows are fitted with blinds for moments of greater privacy but we chose to keep ours up to make the most of the glorious view on all sides. We were lucky to have reserved one of the rooms with an open-air bathtub as only 3 of the rooms have them.
The standard rooms are just as pretty with titanium finished, polished cement floors, pristine white walls, and a queen sized bed giving a light airy feeling. The balconies are generous, just right to relax with a hot cup of tea and book of choice.
We loved the atmosphere of the dome shaped restaurant area. You may dine where you choose, on the main restaurant deck drinking in the view of sweeping mountains and clear blue skies, lounge at one of the low tables on the big comfy bean bags or, if in the mood for a little privacy, enjoy a romantic dinner for two in one of the cozy corners.
Food is one of the highlights at 98 Acres. Take your pick from a wide selection of Sri Lankan, Continental and Far Eastern cuisine. Service is impeccable and the presentation is imaginative. Crisp light waffles topped with generous dollops of syrup, ice cream and banana; beautifully presented platters filled with delicious tropical fruit or meats grilled to perfection. Our favorite part of the day was enjoying a hearty English breakfast on our chalet balcony. The scrambled egg and grilled tomato, sausages and bacon tasted awesome in the crisp morning air and the view was simply magical with the mist still covering the mountain peaks.
We dined out on the deck area – the myriad stars seemed to blanket the sky and we could see the tiny lights of distant homes glowing in the far off hills. The sound of night creatures filled the air. The air was crisp and cool. We felt we were perched on the edge of the world.
Bar 98 – is a beautiful creation crafted from railway sleepers. As the resort does not have an alcohol license you are most welcome to take along your own.
Soak up the sun by the pool looking out onto the fabulous view. There is a children’s pool also where they can safely splash about.
Indulge yourself in a spa session in the comfort of your own chalet with treatments using tea and exotic herbal plants.
Tea Story – follow the fascinating tale of tea. Walk through the estate with one of the experts chatting with some of the tea pickers. Learn their technique and watch the processes in the factory to see how the world famous Ceylon tea is made.
Do a bit of biking, hiking or trekking. The resort has bicycles you can borrow.
Little Adams Peak is a 5 min walk away. The climb to its peak at 1141mt is just a half hour climb. The view that awaits you is well worth the effort.
Ella Rock is a 3 hour challenge worth any avid trekkers’ attention.
Visit Ravana Ella falls – one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. It is about 25ft high and is part of the Ravana Ella Falls Wild Life sanctuary. It’s a ten minute ride or ½ hour walk from the resort. You could also visit the Ravana cave where it is rumoured that Kind Ravana hid Ramayana’s beautiful wife Sita.
Bambaragama falls, the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, is a 20 min ride away from 98 Acres.
Helicopter Rides – The resort’s private helipad is located 5 minutes away. Helicopter rides should be arranged in advance.
Adisham Mansion – the former country home of Sir Thomas Villiers which was transformed into a monastery by Benedictine monks in 1961. Walk through the beautiful orchards, enjoy the serene peaceful beauty and taste the gorgeous home made guava jam.