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A memorable weekend Yasmin Cader

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My first thought when I chose Haritha Villas and Spa to spend a weekend at was to experience sun, sea, sand and calm. However, while I was driven through paddy fields of Sri Lanka’s untouched natural landscapes, I was amazed at what I saw and was wondering where my final destination would be. Till suddenly, we approached these majestic gates which swung open spinning a breathtaking welcome as we drove in. There was the GM – Maxime Rachel, flanked by the Sales Director Fazal Zawahir and my Villa Master – Wasantha all of whom were hidden behind masks, but I could still feel their welcoming smiles and warmth! I knew then, I was in for a memorable experience!

Haritha Villas and Spa is a privately owned boutique hotel set in lush surroundings. For those who love the sea, the management has made arrangements with their compliments to take their guests to the Riff hotel – just three minutes away to the stunning beach of Narigama.

I was guided to my villa which boasted a stunning view of tall trees, paddy fields and many varieties of lush foliage springing up wherever I looked. We sat on the sofas, chatting over a cup of freshly brewed Sri Lankan tea, after which, the Villa Master or personal butler Wasantha assigned to me walked me through the amenities provided. Each villa features an in-room check-in and SPA services, a personal butler, a private garden and dining area, a plunge pool and your own terrace with sofas. Room amenities include a minibar with a wine fridge, Illy espresso machine and tea-making facilities, a Bose Bluetooth sound speaker, IPad and Ophir toiletries. All the villas offer stunning views of the surrounding jungles and paddy fields.

I was told the owner of this luxury resort is Mr. Kostadin Tolev from Bulgaria who spent almost four years creating the beautiful spaces the resort boasts. While, the father of this truly unique and extraordinary architecture is Gary Fell- a world famous and multi-award winning architect from Bali (http://gfabarchitects.com/)

It was evident that luxury and privacy are at the heart of the hotel’s design. Seven intimate one-bedroom contemporary villas, with rooftops covered in greenery, each with its own plunge pool are beautifully combined with two colonial mansions comprising two en-suite bedrooms and a common large swimming pool.

I opted to laze around under thick sun shades watching the sun go down instead of taking a dip in my own plunge pool. Listening to the sounds of the birds, I was quick to recognize many and happier still to see wild peacocks loitering along pathways like it was their own!

The six acre property has individual villas dotted around the terrain with two mansions where a large family could stay. Though every Villa has its own plunge pool, the mansions have their private lap pool, large dining spaces and more. Luxury beamed from all corners of each en-suite room, furnished with tailor-made high quality curtains, comfortable bed linen with herbal and organic toiletries placed in the bathrooms.

Executive Chef Gunasiri fondly known as Guna treated me to a world class dining experience despite me being vegetarian! He offered unique unscripted menus at the restaurant called The View interconnected to a lounge which could be converted to a meeting space as well. Adjacent to it, is a 20-meter long infinity swimming pool and a Pavilion named Sal-Sala. Chatting to him while he dished out an interesting rice and curry meal for lunch, and later during dinner which was a four course meal, he proudly told me about their “Farm to Table” philosophy – an ethos close to their heart.

As I walked around the property I noticed that in the rooftop of each villa, doing well were rich crops of lemongrass and leafy vegetables.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed Villa Master Wasantha’s assistance throughout my stay. He was a star! His simplicity and humbleness made him an outstanding team player and an absolute asset to the hotel. By dusk, having discreetly done a turndown service in the room, he multi-tasks taking on added responsibilities. He curates all the mocktails and cocktails for the guests at the bar with ingredients freshly picked from the herb garden, as he also is a qualified molecular mixologist which he mastered when he worked overseas!

After a simple but hearty late breakfast, and another stroll around the property, I headed home bidding farewell to the team who by then seemed like family to me!

In my opinion, Haritha Villas and Spa is the absolute and ultimate haven for a writer, or for someone like me to totally unwind and rejuvenate. All I can wish for them is for more guests to arrive in the near future to enjoy what they have on offer!

Haritha Villas and Spa is a fairly new and well-established property on the market in the area and considered as one of the most luxurious properties in the region. The endorsements and excellent reviews on Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Expedia says it all.

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Business

New look Chagall opens at Park Street

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Chagall opened its doors at Parkland on Park Street Colombo 2 , with Gerald Solomons, personally welcoming all his clients and the media to the brand new Chagall. 

Gerald who established Chagall as Sri Lanka’s most elite and fashionable salon, despite the prevailing situation with the pandemic and the existing restrictions, displayed his usual flair and panache, greeting everyone with the socially correct ‘ayubowan’ and ensuring that each and everyone present was made to feel special and welcome.Continuing the bold colour scheme of red, black and white, Gerald like his muse Marc Chagall, has a wide range of styles that can cater to an eclectic clientele.

The artist Chagall saw his work as “not the dream of one people but of all humanity”; similarly Gerald through his salon Chagall would like to transform each and every person who walks in through his door, so that they leave transformed, with a new confidence in themselves and their appearance.

Mrs World Caroline Jurie, clients and well wishers, keeping in mind health guidelines made their way to Chagall at Parkland on October 20 where Gerald and his team reaffirmed their commitment to their clients and the beauty industry, to continue upholding the highest standards and maintain all safety measures and health protocols.

Having established himself and Chagall as the hairdresser / stylist and salon of the elite, Gerald’s doors are open to anyone who wants to look good and different to those around them. ” Our doors are open to everyone who wants to look good, who wants to make a statement and who dares to bedifferent” said Gerald .Manicures, pedicures, long and short hair cuts and styles, make up, facials,bridal dressing, sari drapes and the whole gamut of services will beavailable, all in brand new surroundings.All staff have undergone intensive refresher courses with Gerald beinginvolved in their training himself. 

Known for his cool demeanor and eclectic style, Gerald started hairdressing at the age of 15 having left school, determined to make an impression in the world of hair, beauty and style! He joined  Moira Muthukrishna where hiscareer in hair dressing began and today he is a living legend. Chagall was set up in New Zealand where Gerald lived for over 20 years and then moved back to Sydney where Chagall continued. Gerald has also worked in Hawaii, Australia and London.Chagall.

 

 

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CSE indices pick up as trading yields Rs. 1.09 billion

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The  stock market on Monday suffered a near 2 percent  decline as investors reacted negatively to the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in the second wave. Moreover, current investor favourite counters,  Tokyo Cement and Expolanka shares, also slightly declined in trading due to the current situation, market analysts said Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards yesterday. The the All Share Price Index rose by  15.74 points  and the S&P SL 20 Index was up by 8.73 points. The market managed to post Rs. 1.09 billion, safeguarding its track record of over a billion plus turnover for more than a month. But no crossings were reported during the day. 

In the retail market, top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were: Tokyo Cement (Non Voting) Rs. 160 million (3.2 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 187.6 million (7.8 million shares traded), HNB Rs. 99.8 million (881,000 shares traded), Tokyo (Voting) Rs. 86.7 million (1.47 million shares traded) and Dialog Rs. 69.5 million (6.34 million shares traded). During the day  55.3 million share volumes changed hands in 12620 transactions yesterday.

The market also lost Rs. 44 billion in value with blue chips JKH, Carsons, Ceylon Tobacco, Bukit and Distilleries as major contributors to the ASPI’s dip on the previous day.  Some analysts linked the lacklustre trading and sentiment to the quarantine curfew imposed in Fort and Pettah which caused a shutdown of offices and businesses in the area. 

 

 

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Initiative to support startups in Sri Lanka

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Microsoft for Startups recently launched the Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where only 56 startups were selected to the Emerge X program from six states, which have over 15000+ startups. The Emerge X winners have greatly benefited with global market access support, a 3-day founder bootcamp with world class mentors, access to funding, ongoing mentorship, and guidance on Azure, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more.

Innovation is critical to unlocking inclusive economic growth in Asia Pacific; high income economies in the region invest three times more in research and development as compared to their peers. To spur innovative entrepreneurship, Microsoft will work closely with governments and industry partners to discover and nurture technology startups with a high potential to become truly global enterprises in the future.

“At Microsoft, we are working to build up a more supportive ecosystem for startups in Sri Lanka,” said Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. “Startups play a vital role in our economy as innovators, disruptors and first-movers. Sri Lanka needs more entrepreneurial development to fuel economic growth. Through Highway to a 100 Unicorns, we will enable startups in Sri Lanka to drive digital innovation in the region. We look forward to walking with founders along their growth journey and supporting them to scale and achieve more.”

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