The road was long, if not quite winding but the wonderful tranquillity and breathtaking beauty of Jetwing Vil Uyana was certainly well worth the journey. Vil Uyana is unbelievably unique ‘lifestyle’ hotel set by a specially created wetland in Rangirigama, Sigiriya.
Greeted by a gust of breeze fresh from the lake, swiftly followed by brilliant smiles, cool towels and a refreshing thirst quencher of crushed Ambarella - a fruit one generally associates with that piquant but irresistible ‘achcharu’. Already intrigued, I hastened to meet the F&B Manager, Roshan Sugathathasa and the presiding Chef Sanath Athukorala.
A firm believer of the ‘Go Sri Lankan’ theme promoted by Jetwing, Chef Sanath already holds some rare recipes from the locale and with subtle twists of his own includes them in the hotel’s extensive menu. Their signature dish ‘Kurakkan Roti with Undu Anama ‘ for instance, the ‘Badapu Wewu Maalu’ (fried fresh water fish dipped in a crushed curry leaves and coconut coating, served with sweet potato chips and ‘gotukola salada’) and the mouth-watering ‘Dum Gasu Urumas’ (Tender pork marinated in bee honey, smoked over firewood and slow cooked in a rich curry gravy).
To complement the ethereal splendour feasts aplenty await the guest, and varied ways to partake in them. Fine dining at the Apsara restaurant is a most princely affair and lovingly prepared culinary masterpieces beg appraisal.
The extensive a la Carte menu tempts with everything from farinaceous to flambé; a wide selection of western and eastern fare including special vegetarian and healthy option dishes and a simply decadent sweet selection that puts every good dietary intention to the test. Just try saying no to their Hazelnut Puzzle Cake – Vanilla infused hazelnut cream, sandwiched between two thick layers of dark and white chocolate fudge sponge, with a generous scoop of homemade white chocolate or brandy hazelnut ice cream.
Despite having overindulged in succulent Madagascar Prawns flamed in cognac and infused with white wine, followed by a medium rare Australian Sizzling Steak cooked to perfection with grilled veg and baked potato on the side, aptly accompanied by a glass (or was it two) of a particularly fine Pinot Noir fetched from the wine cellar. Sourced from a single dedicated supplier and stocked with the best champagne and wines from around the world, this cellar is a place for the connoisseur – who could indeed, opt to dine in there as well.
Other signature dining experiences offered are equally unique. How about concluding a day of luxurious indulgence with a romantic candle lit Spa dinner? Or going native to enjoy an authentic traditional harvesting feast on a ‘Kamatha’ – and if you’re feeling decidedly daring, scale the stick ladder up to the windswept tree house for an unforgettably rustic ‘kamatha Paley’ meal off ‘Kenda’ leaves on a flat reed basket – a simple red rice or kurakkan pittu with katta sambol and spicy curry never tasted better.
Guests are also given the option of choosing precisely when, what and how they want to eat – advance notice, being the only requisite.