Cinnamon Bentota Beach officially opened doors to its first guests on 15th January as the flagship property of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts. Religious observances of all faiths were conducted with the participation of Chairman John Keells Holdings Krishan Balendra, Deputy Chairman Gihan Cooray, and President Leisure Sector Jit Gunaratne with an intimate gathering of staff and guests.
The Bentota Beach Hotel as it was known then was built in 1967 by Geoffrey Bawa. Its uniqueness at the time was that it was the first hotel to be built with a story indigenous to ‘place’ as a tourist hotel in all of Asia. Here Bawa was able to create an experience that was completely rooted in place and time using the art skills and crafts available to deliver an experience that was unique to Sri Lanka.
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts decided to restore and conserve the building because of its importance in the architectural history of the world. The building, when it was first constructed was said to be a new type of design envisioned for the first time in Sri Lanka and perhaps in all of Asia as a precedent to the Asian style of architecture now known as the tropical modern style.
Commenting at the opening, Krishan Balendra, Chairman John Keells Group stated, “We started this project eighteen months ago, and set ourselves a tight timeline to complete it. I’m happy to say that what we have today is a hotel restored to the original feel of Geoffrey Bawa’s creation. The comments I have received so far have been very positive. Bentota Beach Hotel as it was known then, has been an icon in Sri Lanka as we all know, and we are eager to share with our guests the history and heritage value of this hotel.”
One of the unique things about the Bentota Beach hotel when it was first built was its use of local artists. The same tradition was carried on through the refurbishment of the resort which has now become Cinnamon Bentota Beach. Paintings by Ismeth Raheem (artist, architect and author) decorate the walls of the lounge, while sixteen suites containing art and creations by local artists correspond to the name of each suite. Eight artists were commissioned to depict a theme and record what they felt the name of the suite meant to them resulting in each suite telling a story of the local people and local languages.
The monumental refurbishment of the resort included key components such as reinstating the famous ceiling by Ena de Silva at the entrance, the handloom fabric design of Barbara Sansoni and Barefoot, the recreation of the ceiling of the lounge and bar with the aid of designer Marie Gnanaraj and the restoration of the gilded and painted panel by Ismeth Raheem on the south wall of the lounge that records memories of the hotel and its 50 year history.
The 5-star resort has been constructed across 11 acres of land and has the most unique location boasting vistas of the Indian Ocean and the Bentara River. The property holds 159 rooms comprising 16 suites and 144 suite-sized rooms; each offering its own view of the ocean and vast gardens enhanced by signature experiences and services, including a personal lifestylist for the suites. Visitors will be able to experience Sri Lanka’s iconic location and choose from an array of water and adventure sports.
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts comprises 15 distinct properties located in key areas across Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Cinnamon brand focuses on delivering memorable holidays with the warmth and vibrancy of authentic hospitality.