Sri Lanka pt 4: Dikwella
Dikwella is a small coastal market village in the southern province of Sri Lanka. Outside of the Wewurukannala Vihara temple and the Hummanaya Blow hole, there isn’t a whole lot of sightseeing to do in the area. Instead, we decided to use this leg of our trip to relax and recuperate from our frantic adventures so far. There was really no better place to do this than at Underneath the Mango Tree.
Underneath the mango tree
This beach side spa resort is your one stop shop to relaxation and has everything you could ever need contained within its walls. The unique and luxurious rooms were jam packed with quirky finishes, that is, it was both comfortable and entertaining. The highlight was the old school, functional rotary phone which made me feel like I was almost stepping back in time. Our room came complete with private pool and terrace, giving us a completely isolated oasis to which to retreat.
The UTMT private beach is scattered with hammocks, four post day beds and an array of beach side games. The resort also comes equipped with a huge infinity pool for those that prefer not to tackle the sand.
The restaurant features not only an incredible view of the Indian Ocean but also culinary highlights from Sri Lanka's thrilling and spicy cuisine. You have the option of making new friends at the long communal tables or the more intimate tables for two on the terrace. The restaurant offers amazing quality food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however the price tag does reflect the quality. If you are looking for a cheap eat, you may need to explore outside the walls. Seasonal fruit, afternoon tea and 24hr access to a buffet of teas is on offer, complementary to all guests.
Wherever you turned, there was a new quirky area that provided something fun and entertaining to do which was an absolute highlight for us. There was just so much to keep you occupied that you never even had to venture outside the walls. For your entertainment, the resort includes: pool table, library, kids play area (filled with toys and games), cafe, yoga, spa, cinema (with complementary popcorn) and telephone box that allows you to call home for free.
The staff were amazingly friendly and welcoming and we were even greeted on arrival by the owners, who truly made this place feel like a home away from home.
I'm not the most spontaneous of travellers. I'll admit, I spent most of the flight over reading the Sri Lankan lonely planet guide and working out all the things I wanted to see when we got to each location. I had no idea what to expect when travelling to Dikwella, because there wasn't much said about this place, other than where it is located on a map. I was a little concerned that we'd made a mistake when choosing to come here. I honestly thought it could become a huge waste of our time that could have been spent elsewhere. On arriving at UTMT, I realised that I couldn't have been more wrong. This resort alone was worth the overly crowded and hot bus ride we had just taken from Galle.
On entering, we were greeted by the smiling staff and a coconut cocktail that had me intrigued. There were two test tubes fixed to the top that contained arak (a strong spirit) and lime juice, which meant you got to control the strength. I was so excited to try the drink, I'd almost forgotten that I hated coconut. I was quickly reminded after having a sip and being almost repulsed by the strong coconut flavour. I should have asked for more alcohol and lime juice to help mask the flavour, although I was worried I'd create the wrong impression, especially since the owners had come down specifically to greet us.
On first exploration of the resort, I couldn't believe how much this place had to offer. I'd stayed at resorts before that of course had the usual pool, spa, and tennis court etc., but this place had so much more. Not only did it have everything to suit everybody but everything was of such an amazingly high standard. To give an example, I am a self-confessed board game freak. At home, I have a board game collection so big that it almost needs its own room. UTMT didn't just have the typical games like Cluedo and Monopoly, it had the strategy style games that only a true board game fanatic (like myself) would freak out over.
Every little area you entered was made to feel so relaxed and welcoming, almost like you were in your own home, except that this place was way cooler than my own home. It was so amazing to finally be able to spend some time relaxing and being able to enjoy each other’s company, as opposed to rushing from place to place feeling like you had to fit everything in. We just got to stop and breathe for a second.
Up until we arrived in Dikwella, we had been going non-stop and when travelling around in Sri Lanka, it can be full on. It had been a couple of full on days what with the combination of the heat, traffic and organised chaos that goes on.
We decided to catch the public bus from Galle to Dikwella which stopped right outside The Owl and the Pussy Cat. We wanted to experience the real Sri Lanka and public transport had been a big part of that for us. For the first time, I regretted our decision as we made the long trip to Dikwella standing on an overcrowded bus driven by what seemed to be a lunatic. It wasn't until later that we realised that the buses are all racing each other to get to the next stop first to be the first to pick up the passengers waiting for a bus. I can tell you the novelty of that bus ride disappeared very quickly.
When we arrived at Underneath The Mango Tree, I was worn out, not just from the bus ride, but from the constant energy we had been putting into our travel thus far. As we entered through the gates, I knew we were in for a couple of days of complete peace and serenity.
There is a real relaxed and peaceful energy about UTMT that made me feel right at home from the beginning. It was a familiar feeling like I wasn't visiting UTMT for the first time but returning to an old friend that I had been to many times before.
The staff all seemed more like friends and family than staff and they were so easy to talk to and get along with that we found ourselves at times hanging out and spending time together.
Although UTMT is a resort, it did not feel like a resort, more a home away from home. I was worried at first about heading to Dikwella as we couldn't find much information on the small town but it was such a refreshing surprise that I'm thankful we got a chance to go.
The highlights for me at Underneath The Mango Tree were the small attention to details and things to do around the place for the guests. I loved heading over to the tea station and trialling all the different teas while enjoying whatever little cookie or cake they had each day, as well as stopping by and grabbing some fresh fruit prepared in front of us.
Underneath The Mango Tree was exactly what we needed to recharge the batteries and get ready for the next part of our adventure.