luxe - Maya Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Written by Rukshana Rizwie, Photography by Waruna Gomis
A sanctuary set within Sri Lanka’s unspoilt countryside, it’s no wonder Maya is called a ‘House of Dreams’.
Meaning ‘illusion’ or ‘dream’ in Sanskrit, ‘Maya’ is a 100-year-old manor house transformed into a hip hideaway for a holiday, resplendent with a 20m pool. This 19th-century heritage villa pays homage to Sri Lanka’s Dutch and British colonial periods by blending its contemporary interiors seamlessly with traditional design accents.
The private retreat resides in the rural village of Aranwella, 7km away from Tangalle on Sri Lanka’s south coast. The ancient house stands in contrast to the two acres of lush gardens, with trees as old as the house, and is surrounded by a sea of paddy fields encircled by velveteen jungle.
Accentuating the antiquity of this heritage villa are custom-designed furnishings such as the brass-plated lamps and ornate door frames. The home is a fusion of timber and terrazzo, with the latter giving a modern twist to a home lost in time. In the old house, the sofa and dining table are made from timber whereas in the living pavilion, terrazzo adds glamour.
Additionally, the staff respond to your every whim, led by the manager and a chef who is able to cook up a fusion of cuisines with ease.
Maya literally opens its windows to the wildlife in Sri Lanka. Udawalawe, the wild elephant park, is easily accessible, as is the Kalametiya bird sanctuary. If a quiet night stroll is what you want, trek to the Rekawa beach next door to observe endangered marine turtles nesting.
The southern coast is considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, and Spinner Dolphins. Excursions are arranged during peak season from Mirissa.
Meanwhile, Maya has bicycles for guests to explore the quiet lanes of this tranquil village. Trishaws (tuk-tuks) will take you in less than 15 minutes to an enormous boulder more than 200m in height at the Mulkirigala Temple.
Alternatively you can discover the majestic Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site.