Having spent a large part of my working life researching wellness retreats and products, I decided it was time to venture further afield from the usual spots like Byron and Bali and head to the land of serendipity – Sri Lanka.
With an emerging hype and whispers of unique retreats, I decide to visit before the scene explodes.
I arrive in Poya on a super moon public holiday and head straight for Colombo, an intriguing, fast-paced city with a fusion of cultures from the Middle East to Europe. With its foot firmly placed between Dutch and English colonial style architecture, we head to the Colombian marina towards the best example of this style, the Galle Face Hotel, oldest hotel in the east.
Built in the late 1800s, the hotel has hosted many a dignitary and is best known for accommodating the writer Arthur C Clark. It’s truly a masterpiece of a building with decadent service and next level food. I struggle to leave.
Alas the Samadhi retreat is calling. We arrive in Kandy after a six-hour train ride from the mountains of Ella, which is spent gazing out the window at some of the most picturesque mountains and tea plantations this intrepid traveller has ever seen.
We bypass Kandy city centre and head straight for the retreat. A detour to a quirky old antique store to meet and greet Waruna, the owner of Samadhi, and the Tuk Tuk is on its way.
From the moment you step through the impressive rock face entrance and old carved wooden doors you are transported into a rustic wellness setting that feels deliciously authentic. A hidden sanctuary awaits.
The detail is immaculate. Antiquities adorn each corner of this magnificent property. Architecturally designed buildings with guest houses, aptly named painters room and textile house.
We swim in private waterfalls at the bottom of a lush gully and can’t help wonder if the steep, long walk back to our abode is all an intentional part of the daily wellness regime.
The welcome dinner is abundant in flavour, served buffet style and includes dahl, house made roti, coconut sambal, spicy mushroom soup, gotu kola with lemon and garlic and an array of traditional vegetarian and chicken curries.
Set up in traditional mud houses, the Ayurvedic treatments on offer include a shirodhara massage which gently pours hot oil through a copper funnel on your head to awaken your third eye and get your energy flowing.
There are options to suit all wellness needs in Sri Lanka, whether you practice yoga at the Prana Lounge in Colombo, head south to a surf retreat at Talalla beach or take one of the guided yoga retreats by ‘Step through the Door’ hosted by an Australian local, Helen Langston.
The majority of the population is Buddhist, and the country is a spiritual land with vast mountain ranges, clean surf beaches and an abundance of tea plantations. The time is now for wellness in Sri Lanka.