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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

LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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