Juliet Coombe takes a look at The Mermaid Hotel & Club and discovers a magical world of fun
One might think mermaids were mythical creatures created by children and the imaginations of great writers, but not true in Sri Lanka where numerous claims have been made over the centuries of seeing half women and half fish like characters. Do a bit of digging and there are even some interesting unexplained photos of fishy human like creatures lying on rocks, even one or two sightings far out to sea if you talk to the coastal fisherman. One hotelier who probably also loved the 1980s film with hotter than hot Daryl Hannah playing the mermaid in ‘Splash’ decided to create a beautiful property overlooking the ocean in the holy of holies Kaluthara, with two swimming pools, a separate fantastic games area including water polo, croquet and pumping daily water aerobics pool. For those that do not want to pump up the action you can also relax and enjoy the SPA treatments, which include having your face covered in green tea and looking years younger afterwards.
Here staff some of which have been with the property for 26 years pride themselves on repeat bookings, because here relaxation is a way of life and mermaids do really exist. Well if you believe the bar man who serves up a lethal mermaid cocktail at sunset, with floating fruit pieces inside looking like pieces of coral and the colour of a mermaid greeny blue and totally delicious. The bar man Prasanna with the cheekiest of grin also has the power of magic at his finger tips and with well worn Sports Direct stack of cards will have you bewildered as how he does it. Pick a card he says, anywhere in the pack and I did and he named every single one of them even up moving the pack to different places and shuffling them several times. Suddenly I realised I was in the world that lies between the known and the unknown. The magical journey of tricks includes a cocktail shaker, which you can bang on anything you like and see if it has a concealed compartment inside, once checked a coin vanishes from the bar and seconds later is found inside the sealed container.
Is this real magic or the cocktail arrak based cocktail with fresh passion fruit, blue syrup and fresh pineapple with a bit of mango to make it refreshing playing with the mind? It is hardly surprising after a couple of these people have claimed to see mermaids and part of the fun of being there is trying to find one. Twice a week a local artist takes master classes in drawing and painting with the kids, which they love along with using the gym and all the other daily activities put on by the hotels three energetic motivators. Curated fun is just one of the many reasons for so many repeat bookings, along with great food and a drinks corner with snacks in the afternoon and the sweetest of sweet biscuits.
The hotel also organises excellent city and temple tours and on their return they love you to indulge in the In house ‘The Sahana Spa’, where you can have an energizing massage or full body treatment removing the days impurities and open up any blockages due to stress in the body. The SPA team have also worked together for more than 8 years and even travelling long distances can’t imagine working anywhere else, as they love the spirit of the place. It is like an extension of their community and the guests feel this when they are doing yoga overlooking the beach or bending it like Beckham with a spot of tropical football. Kids love the way the staff get them treats, let them run free and are always on hand to teach them fun new activities while mum has a manicure or a romantic candle lit dinner of lobster on the beach or by the main pool.