Geoffrey Bawa's final architectural gem set on a private enclave of Tangalle's best beach. Aptly named, Mahawella-The Last House- is a large villa divided into a number of wings to offer privacy to friends and generations of family.
The distressed-style blue window frames intersperse the Bawa signature-pillared verandahs. Cement floors and open cream-washed arches join rooms scattered with large glass or teak tables and temple wall hangings. Ornate, antique brass light fittings hang from the high ceilings and the cool air flows around the many Buddhist statues.
The vast 2-acre gardens are contained neatly between the villa and the boundary wall with only a few coconut trees and items of garden furniture to mar the view to the ocean. The 10-metre pool is protected in the central courtyard, before the gate out to the blue ocean and your very own wide sandy beach. To the front, the bedrooms overlook a natural lake where resident herons and kingfishers target the fish circling the sea of purple lilies.
Mahawella has 5 bedrooms and a nanny's room, which can altogether comfortably accommodate 11- 15 people. The décor is simple and stylish yet possesses most of the luxuries any holiday -maker would want- fans, mosquito nets, sea views, antique furniture, crisp Egyptian cotton sheets and coloured bedspreads. Above the 2 sitting rooms are several suites sharing a balcony overlooking the sea..
The Cinnamon Hill suite - large double has large temple doors onto the balcony. A large whitewashed room, a king-size 4-poster bed, teak and rattan lounge chairs, antique wardrobes and writing desk. The en-suite bathroom is luxuriously arranged so that whilst relaxing in the bath, you may also enjoy the sea view. Open hot water showers, double modern glass bowls and clothes stands and large white bath sheets accompany colonial style fittings.
Next door is the family suite, comprising twin beds, a baby cot and adjoining nanny room; another large and tastefully decorated room and planter`s chairs. The en -suite has a bath and hot water shower.
In the east wing an open courtyard leads to a triple bedroom. From the corner of the ceiling hangs a beautiful turquoise paper butterfly. Her wings span over the antique king size and single beds below. The en -suite bathroom boasts an open hot water sunken bath, finished with cement and granite. I soaked for hours under the stars although it took a while to fill the bath! The indoor shower room may be preferable on cool nights.
Across the courtyard is a further twin room overlooking the lake. The bathroom is also outdoors with indoor showers for the timid.
To the front of the property is a lake-view bedroom, elevated on jackwood stilts. Its three walls of glass shuttered windows make this an extremely light room, whilst the soft muslin drapes frame the star filled sky at night and sunset. This is my favourite suite for the romantic couple; a king-size bed, and lots of character. The bijou bathroom is less adventurous but the modern, tiled, shower room is clean and fresh.
Eat when you like and what you fancy! 'Ananda', Mahawella's highly trained chef, will gather your choice and style of food - fish, spicy, vegetarian - each morning and then practice his culinary skill throughout the day.
Afternoon tea is a highlight - home-made cakes and cookies.
For lunch we nibbled at tomato and basil brochette, with grilled peppers and prawn satay with a papaya sauce.
We had breakfast in the garden, lunch on the garden terrace, so dinner was a sociable affair on the dining terrace, with delicate candles burning everywhere, catching the fire flies in the night air.
The menu is comprehensive, for example- lobster, mango and cucumber salad, and a variety of pastas or grilled chicken with Moroccan spices and herbed vegetables. Ananda is an expert at zabaglione for that special occasion. Passion fruit brulee and traditional watalappan are favourites for many. Food is all charged to guests at cost price (average $15 per person per day) and the service is included in the villa tariff. Discretionary tips are welcomed but not sought.
Wine, beer and spirits must be ordered in advance but a simple e-mail is sufficient. Bottled water and fresh fruit juices are kept in stock.
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