Juliet Coombe talks to Hiran Cooray Chairman of Jetwing Hotels as their most exciting property to date opens, and is already being heralded as a masterpiece in contemporary architecture and innovative hoteling.
On the 27th January, Jetwing Colombo Seven opened, in a spectacular way, on the plot of land, which the visionary owner’s father, Herbert Cooray, the late Chairman of Jetwing, spent the last years of his life living and enjoying the central city location of Barnes place. It is a wonderful spot, and indeed, during the height of the civil war years, Herbert suggested that the way forward for the group was to build an exciting boutique-style resort hotel in the centre of Colombo’s most glamorous area. Though, at that time, it had very little to offer in terms of international shopping or world-class restaurants. Hiran Cooray Chairman of Jetwing Hotels says, “There wasn’t a single restaurant when we were growing up in Barnes Place. Now, there are so many restaurants, boutique hotels and shops available just a few steps away. I think this trend will continue to grow and there will be many more of the above in times to come.”
Hiran’s father always the crystal ball reader first mooted the idea of Jetwing Colombo Seven when he was actively involved in the Jetwing business and long before his death in 2008. Hiran says, “We kept him from doing it because of the on-going conflict at that time, and we were not as optimistic or visionary as he was. I wish he were here to see it now. But I am sure his blessings from above will always be here.”
Hiran, a lover of world travel and great architecture, explains how the inspiration for this stunning property, on a tiny plot of land, came from a very small Hotel in Singapore called the Naumi. When Hiran stayed there, he thoroughly enjoyed the utilisation of the space in this small block and immediately wanted to meet the architect who designed it. That is how Hiran met Sim Boon Yang of Eco ID and invited him to Sri Lanka to design a hotel for Jetwing.
As Jetwing Colombo Seven positions itself to be the pearl in the crown jewels of the group’s fabulous properties, created by the Jetwing Hotels group, Hiran states passionately, along with plans to launch more exciting properties later in the year with his superb team that he credits for the companies on going success says, “I would like to see Sri Lanka positioned as one of the best Island nations in the World, offering not only lovely beaches but also wildlife, culture, thousands of years of fascinating history, and amazing greenery. We are known all over the world for the beauty of our Island, but today’s traveller is not aware of the product improvement that has happened over the past seven years, since the end of the thirty year conflict. This needs to be communicated so that we can continue to attract discerning travellers to our Island.”
Hiran, along with selecting a great architect, has put together a dream team and is delighted to have Ramesh Costa, who was based in London for over 30 years, join Jetwing as the general manager of Jetwing Colombo 7. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Sri Lanka and Jetwing, not only in food and beverages but also in general management. He will be ably supported by Jetwing’s young Chef, Indika Bandara, who was trained under Chef Yannick Alleno (awarded three Michelin stars), so you can just imagine how fantastic the food and service will be for international travellers, those doing business and Sri Lankans returning home to see their family and friends. A hotel with a window on the world and a style that embodies everything that is truly Sri Lankan, from a family whose roots run deep into the very soul of the island, or in this case, the very foundations on which this mile high hotel is built. For me, the view from the roof, the swimming pool bar’s uber cool design, and the terrific restaurants will make this a legendary stopping-off point for all worldly travellers.
Jetwing Colombo 7, like the rest of the group is all about the Cooray ‘family’ values of passion, humility, integrity and tenacity that will put this stunning new property in a class of its own!