All is wellness in Sri Lanka, the land of serendipity
HAVING spent a large part of my working life promoting and 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 thought it was best to visit before it goes pop and arrived in Poya on a super moon public holiday (yes, they have a public holiday every full moon).
I head straight for Colombo, an intriguing fast-paced city - a fusion of cultures from the Middle East to Europe. You get the sense it's on the brink of something brilliant, new and exciting. With its foot firmly placed in Dutch and English colonial style architecture, we head to the best example of this: the oldest hotel in the east Galle Face hotel which adorns the Colombian marina.
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. I 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.
I bypass Kandy city centre and, with Namaste on my mind, I 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 wood 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 which boasts architecturally-designed buildings with guest houses, the aptly named painter's room and textile house.
I swim in private waterfalls at the bottom of a lush gully and I can't help but 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.
Ayurvedic treatments are the real deal, set up in traditional mud houses, they include a shirodhara massage which features the gentle pouring of hot oil through a copper funnel onto 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.
Most of the population is Buddhist, 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.
* Kylie Mitchell-Smith is a Casuarina-based writer. She owns her own PR business and enjoys uncovering and writing about unique travel destinations. Contact her @thetravellingsenorita