Five-star comfort on the Emerald Isle
The decision to build the architectural complex that now accommodates the RIU Sri Lanka Hotel was based on a new business model involving multiple players, a public-private partnership aimed at developing the country’s tourist industry. This led to an agreement between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and the private company Aiken Spence PLC for an investment in a luxury resort in Ahungalla, which also involved the Southern Highway (then under construction) and the Mattala airport, which was interested in introducing charter flights for tourists. The civil and structural engineering work (not including electromechanical engineering, installation of doors and windows and room decoration) was awarded to the Chinese contractor CHEC, while the management of the complex was assigned to RIU Hotels & Resorts, a Spanish chain owned by the Riu family which currently operates more than 100 hotels in some twenty countries worldwide. Ahungalla is one of the most popular tourist resorts on the island. The five-star RIU Sri Lanka, opened in 2016, extends along a sandy beach facing directly onto the sea and has five above-ground floors with a total floor space of around 60,000 square metres. Behind it stands a large wooded area and beyond that the waters of Maduganga Lake. Viewed from above, the pure white complex emerges from the green of the vegetation with a rectangular layout but with an offset seafront elevation, as though the entire section had been shifted to the left along an imaginary track. The internal courtyard contains a 22,000 square metre garden, three large swimming pools for adults (690, 610 and 250 square metres in size, respectively) and a 75-square-metre children’s pool with water slides. At the Flamingos poolside bar, bathers can swim up and order food and drinks for consumption on stone tables set in the pools themselves. The RIU Sri Lanka is one of the hotels in the chain that adopt the « All Inclusive by Riu » formula, where all food and drinks normally considered extras are included in the room price. The hotel has 501 spacious rooms extending over four floors and provided with all the amenities typical of a facility of this level. On the ground floor a cool open arcade extends along the courtyard side of the complex and opens onto the entrance hall, common spaces, bar, jacuzzi, gym, Renova spa and restaurants. The Italian restaurant, « La Forchetta », has a lively atmosphere and features multicoloured ceramic mosaic-tiled walls, decorative wooden cutlery hanging from the ceiling above the service counters, pink menus on the tables, and chairs sporting the white, red and green of the Italian flag. On the walls hang a series of pictures featuring typical iconic Italian imagery, including a traditional Moka coffee maker. Stylistically, the hotel adopts a prevalently sober yet elegant and functional design inspired by the local architectural tradition but modernised through skilful use of contemporary materials, such as the large porcelain tiles from the Pantheon collection by Century. In the common spaces, the architects opted for an elegant stone effect tile with an antiqued surface to guarantee a high level of aesthetic quality, strength and ease of maintenance.