Maya (Sanskrit meaning Illusion or Dream) is an exquisitely executed five suite villa restoration of a Sri Lankan Manor House dating from the late 19th and early 20th century which pays dutiful homage to its Dutch and British period features whilst blending seamlessly with its new contemporary interiors and original design accents. Set in the rural village of Aranwella, 7 km from Tangalle, Maya spectacularly stands in two acres of lush palm-shaded gardens gazing westerly over a vast expanse of paddy fields encircled by velveteen jungle.
Formerly known as the Aranwella Walauwa when it was the stately home of the village chieftain, Maya dates back over 100 years and, as such, retains plenty of atmosphere and self-importance. The original house is a throwback in time and draws on both Dutch and British styles, but the current hotel is the brainchild of interior designer Niki Fairchild, who fell in love with the old home in 2004. She oversaw the renovation of the property and the addition of three modern rooms, a pool, and dining space. Maya provides a true sanctuary for couples and families looking to experience the best of Sri Lanka’s heritage, culture and cuisine.
Blending into this heritage villa are many custom designed fittings and furnishings designed by the owner herself that sets Maya apart from other refurbished heritage homes found inland from the island’s coastlines. The contemporary and traditional merge at Maya through an interior design that demonstrates flair and innovation without overlooking the importance of practical contentment; beds are big with thick squashy mattresses, deep loungers topped with cushions provide soothing comfort whilst features including brass-plated waterfall lamps on the clean white walls evoke atmosphere and bring a touch of glamour to the villa’s nostalgic, traditional build. Adding to this contemporariness is an attentive staff team which is always at disposal of each Guests.
Maya’s five ensuite bedrooms are divided between the main house and a new wing that’s been beautifully blended via a courtyard hosting a wraparound swimming pool that brilliantly bridges the gap. Each building is also home to individual living and dining areas making the property work well for two families, even if they have not booked together as one grouping. The three bedrooms in the new wing come with their own private open-air courtyards where dining can be enjoyed a deux for couples looking to share an intimate occasion. The spacious garden also holds many opportunities for dining as views extend over the paddy fields to the verdant hills beyond, birds sing noisily in the fruit trees above whilst squirrels, monitor lizards and mongoose wander the verdant grass of the soft lawn below.
Maya celebrates food in a fusion of western and eastern flavours created with flair by the villa’s experienced chef. Whilst breakfasts range from the healthy, fresh fruit, muesli and brown toast to the not so healthy, a full English with bacon, eggs, tomato, mushroom and baked beans, lunches and dinners offer an even greater variety of choice. The chef prepares a three course menu daily for lunch and dinner with a selection of delicious starters, main courses and deserts. The villa also has a good selection of wines, an extensive cocktail menu as well as a variety of soft drinks and fresh fruit juices for those who want to quench their thirst or indulge in a drink or two.
In few words, this is a place for lounging, more than anything else, whether in the private shaded sitting areas or by the pool that bisects the two villas. Any game you can play on a lawn is playable here, from croquet to cricket, and yoga and Tai Chi instruction is available to anyone desiring a little instruction in the slow arts, not to mention some world-class birdwatching. There’s a cable TV and a DVD player, two CD players and iPod docks, WiFi throughout, and lots of pool toys plus cricket bats, croquet, badminton racquets and body boards to keep all ages amused.
Situated in the rural village of Aranwella and just few kilometers from Tangalle in the island’s lush southern interior, Maya is set within a rich landscape of tropical gardens and coconut trees abundant with local bird life and surrounded by paddy fields. Easy access to local attractions and the beaches of the south coast make Maya a perfect base for exploring. On Maya’s doorstep, Guests can enjoy bike rides to the home village of Aranwella and the village temple. UdaWalawe wild elephant park and Kalametiya bird sanctuary are easily accessible. Night safaris to Rakewa beach can be organized to observe the endangered marine turtles nesting. The southern coast beyond Dondra is considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Spinner Dolphins.
Thekka in the Old House opens out to the sky-blue pool. Original 25ft high ceilings, original intricate lattice work, a towering kingsize 4 poster bed draped by a mosquito net and antique fittings, evoke that colonial chic atmosphere, so unique to Maya. Thekka is opposite to Khumbuk in the Old House. These 2 rooms are ideal if you are coming to spend your holiday at Maya with your family. Bedroom is with ensuite bathrooms, custom-designed wardrobes, air conditioner and beds lavishly dressed in 400 thread count linen with the choice of feather or organic pillows. Bathroom features hairdryers and aromatic products using organically grown tropical herbs.
Khumbuk in the Old House, opens out straight to the sky-blue pool. This blissfully quiet room has a view of the garden. The beautifully high ceilings provide space and good ventilation. Similar in style and layout, Khumbuk is opposite to Thekka in the Old House. These 2 rooms are ideal if you are coming to spend your holiday at Maya with your family. Bedroom is with ensuite bathrooms, custom-designed wardrobes, air conditioner and beds lavishly dressed in 400 thread count linen with the choice of feather or organic pillows. Bathroom features hairdryers and aromatic products using organically grown tropical herbs.
Amba’s spacious suite in the New Wing is an embodiment of modern luxe: clean lines, a dashingly decorated living space and a large luxury bathroom. The sliding doors in both the room and the bathroom open out to a large private courtyard, an invitation to simply relax and take in the surrounding nature. Bedroom is with ensuite bathrooms, custom-designed wardrobes, air conditioner and beds lavishly dressed in 400 thread count linen with the choice of feather or organic pillows. Bathroom features hairdryers and aromatic products using organically grown tropical herbs.
Next to Amba, Ehela’s spacious suite in the New Wing is quintessentially modern: elegant interiors, stylishly decorated living space and a large luxury bathroom. The sliding doors opening out to a large private courtyard are an invitation to simply relax and take in the surrounding nature. Identical to Amba but more private, this is one of their most popular rooms. Bedroom is with ensuite bathrooms, custom-designed wardrobes, air conditioner and beds lavishly dressed in 400 thread count linen with the choice of feather or organic pillows. Bathroom features hairdryers and aromatic products using organically grown tropical herbs.
Enjoy the privacy of your own garden and courtyard. Finely decorated and retaining the sleek style of the Villa, Kohomba’s sliding doors open out to a covered courtyard, extending directly to its own private garden. Tranquility on your doorstep. Bedroom is with ensuite bathrooms, custom-designed wardrobes, air conditioner and beds lavishly dressed in 400 thread count linen with the choice of feather or organic pillows. Bathroom features hairdryers and aromatic products using organically grown tropical herbs.
Stretch and relax in the yoga pavilion perched at the edge of the lush green paddy fields. Or simply restore your balance with one-to-one yoga classes with Mahesh, at a time, location and level that suit you. Otherwise the atmosphere at Maya calls for total relaxation. Spoil yourself with massage treatments by their highly skilled in-house masseurs, Priyantha and Shashi. Enjoy a rejuvenating, relaxing or traditional massages in the luxury of your own room, or in the peaceful setting of their garden pavilion with sounds of tropical birdlife to relax and lull you into a peaceful sleep. They use special organically grown tropical herbal oil to harmonise and balance the senses.
Bathe in the stunning 20 metre, L-shaped indigo pool and gaze at the paddy fields beyond. Jump in for a refreshing midday dip or simply lounge by the poolside on designer sunbeds with a book or drink of your choice. Pool floats for children will provide endless hours of fun.
Wedding & Events
An ode to everything romantic. Set the tone for a picture perfect wedding, a glorious anniversary or a dream-like honeymoon. A birthday at Maya is another special occasion to let us spoil you. The private location and exotic décor acts as a flawless backdrop for moments of romance. Plan your wedding at Maya,whether you choose an intimate ceremony or a lavish wedding festivity, the team at Maya will look after every step of the day. Or spend time with someone you love or renew your vows at Maya. Enjoy peaceful moments or plan a small ceremony, Maya staff would be delighted to help create a memorable event.
“Asia’s Best Romantic Retreat 2015” – awarded by Boutique Hotel Awards
“Best Hotels in the World 2013” – awarded by Tatler’s 101
“50 of the World’s Top New Hotels 2012” – awarded by IT List
The history of Maya:
Step back in time and experience the magic of a 19th century Sri Lankan Manor House. Built by one of the ruling elite in Ceylon, Aranwella Walauwa is a classic illustration of 19th century properties, a little gem in the Tangalle area. Drawing on influences from Dutch and British colonial architecture, Aranwella Walauwa’s restitution provides a glimpse into history. Seamlessly blending Sri Lankan heritage with contemporary design, the atmospheric five suite villa pays homage to its original features, a simple harmony of modern luxe with local charm and style. Maya is the creation of interior designer Niki Fairchild. She first stumbled upon the old Walauwa in 2004 and was instantly enchanted. Together with distinguished Sri Lankan architect Pradeep Kodikara, Niki renovated and brought back to life this heritage home. The stunning result blends period features with unique style: enhanced space, sky-high ceilings, open views, sleek lines and supremely comfortable living.
The mission of Niki Fairchild:
Niki began to restore Maya in 2009 back to its original condition. It was in definite need of some loving attention. Her main goal was to protect the building because it is very rare to have a building like that in this particular area. When she discovered it in 2004, it was a dilapidated old Colonial bungalow dating from the late 19th to early 20th century. It features an architecture very typical of that era, with Dutch and British influences and was originally owned by a very high ranking family that had presided over the village. In a way, it’s quite grand to the village. She wanted guests to experience staying in a lovingly restored heritage property. “You can go to so many places and stay in nice, modern villas, but there is something unique and special about staying in a building that is 120 years old, yet doesn’t lack any of the modern creature comforts” she said during an interview.
When to go:
Unlike many other Asian destinations, Sri Lanka can lay genuine claim to being a year-round holiday destination. You just have to know which side of the island to focus on in any given month, and this is never more important than when planning your beach destination. The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. In the north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings wind and rain between October and January, and dryer weather between May and September. There is also an inter-monsoonal period during October and the first half of November, when rain and thunderstorms can occur across the island. This clears up as December nears, with conditions getting balmier by the day during the second half of November. As with many South-East Asian destinations, the period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for overall weather and therefore overall visitor numbers. Whilst there is good reason for this, there are equal benefits to travelling outside of this period, with the shoulder season often providing the best of both worlds; namely great weather and a lower visitor numbers.
Taste the delights of Sri Lankan fusion cuisine. Fresh, local and with a creative twist on classic dishes, the chef Darshana, reputedly one of the best in the Tangalle area, seduces your taste buds with an infusion of flavours. Enjoy a drink wherever tickles your fancy and choose from the extensive wine and drinks list. Dining can be arranged in the stunning outdoor pavilion, by the pool, at your favourite spot in the garden or in the Old House’s atmospheric dining room. When in season, pick a breadfruit from the garden and let their kitchen cook up a fabulous curry. So whether it is breakfast by the pool, lunch in the garden or a romantic candle-lit dinner, let it be a feast for the senses.
Maya is situated in the quaint village of Aranwella next to the ancient village Buddhist temple, only 8km from Tangalle and the beautiful beaches of the southern coast. The journey from the International airport will take 3 and half hours and approximately 3 hours from Colombo. Maya is an hour and half from Galle, a Unesco World Heritage site and a great place to stop and enjoy the Fort on you way down. Maya is an hour and half from the southern port city of Hambantota, where Sri Lanka’s newest cricket ground is located. Maya is also only 1 and half hours from Uda Walawe National park and 2 hours from Yala National park where you can experience Sri Lanka‘s amazing wildlife.
Visit Arankelle Forest Monastery – Situated in an isolated rural spot just north of Kurunegala, Arankele houses the ruins of an ancient monastery, once inhabited by a sect of reclusive monks. The fascinating 6th Century ruins of the Buddhist forest hermitage is spread throughout a forested hillside with huge hardwood trees. Various ruins to be seen include the impressive ancient hermitage hospital with its moats, stone walls, stone herbal baths, herb grinders, sick rooms and meditation halls, and a superior sanitary system.
Climb Sri Pada – In the south of the Hill Country lies Adams Peak (Sri Pada). At over 2.000 metres high, the mountain has been a focus for pilgrimage for over 1.000 years. The mountain is well known for the Sri Pada sacred footprint, a 1.8 metre long rock formation placed near the summit. Depending on religion, the footprint formation is believed to have originated from various sources. In Buddhist tradition, the footprint is thought to be that of the Buddha, in Hindu tradition it is that of Shiva, and in Muslim and Christian tradition it is thought to be the footprint of Adam.
Explore Sigiriya – Sigiriya also known as the Lion’s Rock is a rock fortress and a palace located in the Matale district of Sri Lanka. This ruin is surrounded by gardens, ponds and other structures. Sigiriya was built by King Kassapa and it is included as a World Heritage site. Sigiriya is the best preserved city centre in Asia.
Wildlife & Whales – Sri Lanka’s southern coast hosts some of the world’s most exceptional wildlife and endangered species. Spot Leopards at Yala National Park, An easy day trip from Maya. The Uda Walawe wild elephant park and Kalametiya bird sanctuary are a short drive from Maya. Or take a night safari to Rekawa beach to observe the endangered marine turtles nesting. Spot Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Spinner Dolphins in Dondra, on the southern coast. During the season from December to April, whale and dolphin watching excursions are possible from Mirissa only 40 mins from Maya.
Surfing – Sri Lanka is renowned for having some fabulous surf beaches, and the best one is Midigama, located past Galle in the south of the Island. With sandy beaches that stretch out for miles, you can lie back and watch others try their hand at the waves or get out there and ride a few yourself. With several reefs that make the waves jump high, the water here is for experienced surfers only.
Diving – Nothing takes you into the depths of another world better than deep sea diving. It is here that you can explore the secret life of the marine world or weave through the mysteries contained in a shipwreck that has sunk to the ocean floor. One of the best places for diving is off the coast of Hikkaduwa, a popular coastal town on the South East Coast.
Cricket – Sri Lanka’s favourite sport has to be cricket. Pitches are all over the island and Maya is close to two of them, the oldest in Galle and the newest in Hambantota. If you get the chance, it’s well worth taking in a cricket match.
Below in the beautifully-edited and colorful montage of Sri Lanka, Photographer and Editor Piotr Wancerz gives us an exciting and comprehensive look at the Southeast-Asian island in under three minutes. Produced by Timelapse Media, the video dubbed Island of Dharma follows Wancerz’ journey through ten cities including Colombo, Ella, Haputale and Negombo.
The island country located in the Indian Ocean, is a picturesque playground for nature lovers and adventurers alike. With endless beaches, rainforests, exotic wildlife and timeless ruins, Sri Lanka is a 2.000-year-old destination that still feels somewhat undiscovered. One of the best times to explore the destination is from February to April and August to September to avoid the rainy seasons. However, as you can see throughout the video, it is because of its rainy seasons that the island is blanketed in rich green foliage.
Sri Lankans are also a spiritual people, which can be seen in the form of Buddhist temples scattered throughout the island. But what the destination is really known for is its plethora of water activities such as scuba-diving, whale and dolphin watching, and surfing. Because of its clear waters, divers can easily explore shipwrecks, underwater tableaus, coral gardens and ocean caves. Above ground, don’t miss visiting the elephant sanctuary and orphanage for some great up-close-and-personal wildlife experiences.
There are many luxury hotels and boutique accommodations on the island. But if you’re staying in the South, be sure to check out Maya boutique hotel near Tangalle, immersed in a mature two-acre garden that’s teeming with wildlife. This colonial-chic manor house enshrines its traditional designs with piles of style and modern-luxe touches. Small is beautiful here, as just five suites are split between the atmospheric Old House and sleek New Wing, with a midnight-blue pool snaking between the two. All Suites have a distinct style created by the hotel’s owner Niki Fairchild.
If you’re considering heading to Sri Lanka this year, watch Wancerz’s video. It might just be the final push you need to book the flight.