Take a look at the best all-inclusive resorts in Sri Lanka.
This simple, mid-range option in southwestern Sri Lanka is an excellent value. Open since 1983, the 88-room Hotel Mermaid tends to attract long-term vacationers (coming for 10 days or more) -- mostly couples from Europe, some of whom stay for three weeks. Standard Rooms (the majority) have teak furnishings, CD players, and balconies, and there are two pools, a spa, and fitness center. Guests will find plenty of lounge chairs in which to sit back and read a book, the preferred daytime activity. One restaurant serves varied buffet spreads and three bars pour the basics; all-inclusive packages are optional and there's also live entertainment a few nights a week. For more luxury and romance, check out pricier sister property Saman Villas down the road.
This contemporary, 140-room hotel offers competitive prices on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Designed by renowned local architect Geoffrey Bawa, the upscale Blue Water feels bigger than it actually is, with airy communal areas that reflect his trademark style of tropical modernism. Guests tend to spend daytime hours relaxing in sun loungers scattered around the outdoor lawn in front of the pool. Beyond a fence, there's a wide public beach that stays active with fishermen, though the strong current means it's not always safe for swimming. Modern rooms have private balconies and some bathrooms have separate jetted tubs. The property has four dining options, two bars, two tennis courts, a spa, and a sleek fitness room with yoga classes on request. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
This 154-room, mid-range hotel on the west coast of Sri Lanka is situated along an uncrowded stretch of beige sand 30 minutes from the airport. Currents can be strong at the beach, so many European guests prefer to spend time at the two freshwater pools: a lengthy family-friendly one, and a quiet one next to the open-air spa. Meanwhile, sporty types can partake in tennis, racquetball, badminton, kayaking, and exercise at the indoor fitness center. The colorful, contemporary rooms are spacious and standalone villas are available. Though there are few dining options, the expansive buffet changes daily and there's an elegant a la carte restaurant (guests will have to take a taxi or drive to other spots). An animation team entertains throughout the day and night in the form of aqua aerobics, live music, theatre and karaoke. Keep an eye out for traditional local weddings in the event space.
Just 25 minutes from one of Sri Lanka's busiest tourist areas, Era Beach by Jetwing is ideal for couples who want a quiet coastal getaway. This two-floor Dutch colonial-style building -- which offers half-board and all-inclusive packages -- has seven stylish but sparsely decorated rooms with natural hardwood floors, stone tile bathrooms with skylights, and some signs of wear and tear. The rooms, lobby, bar, and restaurant frame the central courtyard and a long, slate infinity pool. The actual beach area is slim and only good for walking, but it makes for a nice view from the edge of the stone deck overlooking it. Guests here have access to the Jetwing Lighthouse sister property, though no transportation to it is provided.
This relaxed mid-range hotel is located along a beige-sand beach in Negombo, near the Colombo airport. One of Jetwing’s 22 properties (all local-owned), the Sea is typically lower in price than sister properties nearby, and tends to attract leisure couples. Two restaurants include the main buffet with a wine cellar, as well as a romantic seafood option on the beach. Guests are within walking distance to cafes and restaurants for more choice. Modern rooms have central air-conditioning and balconies that face the ocean; the majority are Deluxe Rooms with more space, bathrobes, and jetted tubs. Vendors may wander around sun loungers at two outdoor pools (one that is infinity). Eco-friendly practices (a brand trait) include the use of solar power. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
This 100-room, upscale resort, renovated in 2012, was one of the first properties to set up shop on this stretch of the coast, which is known for its consistent waves. As its name suggests, it attracts surfer types (some from as far away as Lebanon!), as well as couples and families who enjoy a younger vibe. Room decor is modern and understated, and all rooms have comfortable balconies or patios facing the ocean. A buffet restaurant serves quality cuisine, and there are more food and drink options to break up the monotony (shisha pipes and karaoke anyone?). A Balinese team operates six spa treatment rooms, and there’s a free fitness center with views. Wi-Fi and parking are also free. Rates are fair for this caliber, but it's also worth considering the Eden Resort & Spa.
Part of the fun of arriving at the 146-room, mid-range Club Bentota is the five-minute boat road across Bentota River, giving the resort an authentic, secluded vibe. However, most aspects of the resort need some TLC, and though guest rooms have private terraces or patios, we saw lots of wear and tear. The proximity to a wide, clean, and tranquil beach is a main draw, as are the all-inclusive packages that attract plenty of groups and value-minded European tourists, though drink options in these packages are limited. The hotel offers extensive water sports on Bentota River, an outdoor pool, and an extensive Ayurvedic spa menu, though it lacks resort-wide Wi-Fi. Guests looking for a more upscale, intimate option at a lower price point in the area should try Club Villa, though it lacks direct beach access.