The roar of the ocean melds with the hiss of the wind, seducing me into a gentle lull. I’m tempted to take a little siesta, but with the view I have, that would be a waste. From the comfort of one of the sun loungers that line a 15-metre lap pool in my home for the week – Villa Sielen Diva – I watch swirls of waves crash into boulders and burst into frothy lace that hugs the shores of this luxury boutique hotel in Galle, Sri Lanka.
Just about two hours south of Colombo, the hotel sits on an acre of land with sprawling lawns. Cosy and luxurious, these boutique properties masterfully craft intimate experiences for a dream stay. Small Wonders and swaying coconut trees, and faces the shimmering blue waters of the Indian Ocean. “My mum says the Kennedys have Martha’s Vineyard, and the Kumars have Villa Sielen Diva,” quips Priyanka Kumar, who together with her sister Lavanya and doting parents Suria and VU, own the intimate seven-room sanctuary nestled in the picturesque coastal village of Talpe.
The Kumars – who hail from Malaysia but trace their lineage to Sri Lanka – initially built the space as a family holiday home. But last year, they decided to open up their home to paying guests seeking the same sense of serenity the family found here.
I don’t hesitate leaving my comfy spot, as I know that I can revel in this striking panoramic vista from anywhere on the property because of the way it is built; Villa Sielen Diva’s cubist, minimalistic design – the vision of VU and architect Sara Franco – maximises the ethereal beauty of the split-level property. The airy, open-plan living first floor employs the clever use of floor to ceiling glass folding walls, bringing the outside in. Throughout the property, the interiors (impressively decorated by the owners themselves!) are dominated by warm white walls, cool hues of turquoise, pops of bright colours, and a slew of vintage finds from Galle’s treasure chest of antique shops.
My nest – Mora – one of seven sea-facing rooms on the property, rests on the second floor. The luxuriously spacious 43-square-metre-room with jarrah wood floors sourced from old tea plantations add a timeless touch to the sleek modern furnishings and contemporary art that adorn its walls.
At the break of dawn, the aroma of spices wafting from the kitchen compels me to leave the comfort of my snug king size bed. Downstairs, I join the Kumar family at a 17-foot-long table, where the villa’s in-house chefs and staff lay out a smorgasbord of Sri Lankan eats, which include pol sambol (spicy coconut relish), a variety of coconut chutneys, milk rice, fish sothi (coconut curry) and roti (flatbread), and freshly baked breads served with homemade jams. “Please don’t feel shy – take some more,” says Suria as she hands me a platter of dosa (savoury crepes of the Indian subcontinent). I am happy to take her quite literally and shamelessly take second, third and fourth helpings of this incredibly authentic spread.
The big breakfast is just what I need to fuel a day of exploring the historic lanes of the UNESCO Heritage-listed Galle Fort and the expansive grounds of the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum – the home of Sri Lanka’s most prolific writer – both just a 15 minute drive from the villa. I also opt to take a cooking class (one of the on-site experiences the hotel offers apart from massages and yoga classes) and follow the chefs downtown to Galle’s vibrant markets to grab fresh, seasonal, local produce – the foundation of Villa Sielen Diva’s extensive mouthwatering menu.
Back in the villa’s kitchen, I learn a few neat tricks and hope that no one passes out from my attempt at helping the chef cook our big lunch. Adding to the offerings of traditional black pork curry, Sri Lankan gotu kola (Asiatic pennywort) leaf salad and prawn sothi, the chef whips up a fiery crab curry – courtesy of the local fishermen who bring their freshest catch to the villa’s doorstep on a daily basis.
I spend the remaining languid days basking in the briny breeze at the villa’s alfresco living area, completely hypnotised by the ebb and flow of the tempestuous Indian Ocean. I could stay here forever, just sipping Ceylon tea, chatting with the family and enjoying the sublime beauty of the surroundings. This really is a dream home away from home. Jackie O would be so jealous.
This year The Cityscape Awards for Emerging Markets – a prestigious accolade that recognises and celebrates excellence in real estate and architecture – named Villa Sielen Diva as one of three finalist in its Leisure & Hospitality Project Award-Built category.
Book your stay at the Sielen Diva here