Jetwing Sea turns 50

 

Jetwing Sea in Negombo, which began life as the Seashells Hotel in 1972, celebrated its golden jubilee on 10th December, 2022. 

The event was graced by the Minister for Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando, Dr. Binod Chaudhary, Chairman of the Chaudhary Group Nepal and CG Corporation Global and co-owner of Jetwing Sea, and was attended by stalwarts of the hospitality and tourism industry, airlines, and state sector organizations.

Seashells Hotel marked the first foray into the hospitality sector for Herbert Cooray, the founding chairman of Jetwing Hotels. Working as a building contractor at the time, Herbert was commissioned to build the hotel for G.E.B. Milhuissen in a bid to increase the room inventory of Negombo, whose popularity was rising in Europe. The endeavor was proposed by Göran Olsson of Vingresor, a Swedish travel agent whose recommendations led to Herbert concurrently starting work on the Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel, which would later become Jetwing Blue. Seashells Hotel opened its doors in 1972 with 40 rooms.

“Back then, the hotel only operated between November to April, the European winter,” recalled Hiran Cooray, Chairman of Jetwing Symphony PLC, and the son of Herbert. “However, within a few years of Seashells Hotel’s opening, Negombo and indeed Sri Lanka became known as a year-round destination and tourism really started off in earnest.”

In 1978, with Milhuissen contemplating retirement, the property was bought by Herbert Cooray and his life-long friends George Ondaatjie, Lucian Perera, and Gamini Divitotawela and joined Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel as the humble beginnings of Jetwing’s portfolio. Further development in 1988 added 28 rooms to the resort, bringing the total to 68. The stake held by Ondaatjie, Perera, and Divitotawela was purchased by Hayleys and, in 2009, purchased by Dr. Binod Chaundhary, who saw the promise that Sri Lanka held for tourism.

“We entered into a partnership with Jetwing at a very tough time for the country,” said Hon. Dr. Chaudhary. “But Hiran and I shared a vision for Sri Lanka and its tourism, and I had no hesitation in investing in Jetwing Sea. Over the years, the hotel has brought economic development and job opportunities to Negombo as well as bolstering tourism in the region and I am looking forward to many more successful years with Jetwing Sea.”

Hon. Harin Fernando speaking at the event reiterated the views of Dr. Binod, stating that Sri Lanka has always been tested but continues to be resilient and work its way through challenges. He said he was confident that tourism would return to normalcy and thanked Jetwing Hotels for working tirelessly to put the country back on the map.

Seashells Hotel underwent a complete rebranding in 2011, becoming Jetwing Sea with the original 40 rooms making way for a new deluxe wing and a second pool being added to the resort. Currently, Jetwing Sea features 83 rooms, comprising 2 suites, 53 deluxe rooms, and 28 superior rooms, the panoramic Sky Spa on the rooftop, a fully equipped gymnasium, a spacious seafront restaurant “Cafe C” as well as “Lellama”, a specialty seafood restaurant.

Family owned and in the tourism industry for nearly 50 years, Jetwing Hotels has surpassed expectation at every aspect. Building on their foundation of being passionate, as well as the experience of true, traditional Sri Lankan hospitality, constantly pioneering discoveries captures the essence of the brand. Such a strong statement and direction have enabled Jetwing Hotels to imagine, create and manage marvels and masterpieces, where distinctive design and elegant comfort complement each other and the environment. In line with the Jetwing Hotels Sustainable Strategy, across all properties sustainable and responsible practices are given precedence with resource efficiency, community upliftment and education, and awareness being some of our key focus areas.