Close enough to the heart of the city but tucked neatly away up a narrow winding road, Earls Regency hotel was the perfect place for a jaunt around the Kandy area. After a three hour drive from Colombo airport we were welcomed by the softly spoken and professional lobby staff with a glass of passion fruit juice while the check-in took place in a refined manner. After 15 minutes or so we were taken to our compact, double room where we were to stay for two nights. The room was well worn, which wasn't such a bad thing with excitable twin 10 year olds. The kids managed to create the standard family disaster area once we had unpacked whilst I scurried around trying to put things in order as if we had guests arriving any minute. The AC was definitely not Dubai standards i.e. Arctic but a teasing cool that just wasn't enough for the four of us in one room. This was to become a common moan throughout the trip. The hotel decor is heavy on woodwork and brown with a touch of cultural features. I was expecting more of an ethnic vibe and modern facilities but it was more of a middle of the road, safe design with no real character. The views however were fantastic. There are limited dining options in the hotel but the main buffet restaurant had enough choice for the whole family. My husband is a keen curry man so as you can expect with Sri Lankan food, he was in his element with the range of mains but alas the rest of us are still only just at the Korma level so it was slightly more challenging but enjoyable nonetheless. Every night the theme of the restaurant is changed to offer a twist on the previous spread (strangely similar dishes though) - in our time there we trawled the Mediterranean and the Seafood offerings - including BBQ's, specialty dishes and the traditional local dishes on offer like string hoppers (made from hot-water dough of rice meal), Lamprais (rice boiled in stock with a special curry) and Kothuthu Roti. The 'Mountbatten Lounge' is a great spot for the hands-free adults or a pre-drinks however the service staff was lacking the basic attentiveness you would expect from a top hotel in the region. Another option, close to the other restaurants, that seemed popular was Royal Spice, a Northern Indian restaurant with a menu offering dishes like Murgh Malai Tikka, Mutton Rara Ghosht, and Kashmiri offerings. Not sure what the Indian food connection is but it was a common theme in many of the hotels. Some of the website information suggests that you can walk into Kandy but unless you are planning a hour long hike into town, you will require wheels. As we were still on day one of our holiday in Sri Lanka, my hubby and I ventured into the slightly outdated but does-the-job gym for a bit of guilty exercise to work off the previous nights gorge of numerous dishes from the buffet. The children had the U-shaped pool and adjoining Jacuzzi all to themselves so big tick for all of us for keeping up with the calories so far. Overall, this was an enjoyable experience for all of us with no complaints. General tip: Kids menus were few and far between in hotels and restaurants we visited in Sri Lanka, so I would recommend bring along some familiar and healthy snacks with you, especially if you have picky eaters.
Natalie O'Neill of the Miami New Times once said in 2009 "Until the 1980s, Miami Beach was a peculiar mix of criminals, Cubans, and little old ladies. Then the beautiful people moved in." And they are still there. But its the boutique hotels, cool cafes, restaurants and the beach that really bring it together. Tap your heels together....This is not just any beach, this is South Beach aka SoBe. Found on the southern tip of the island this display of wonderful Art Deco architecture, mixed with beautiful people from all corners of the world, is one of my favourite places to visit.
We are a well-travelled family with quite a bit of experience between us. So you'd think we would have everything planned and organised down to the last toothpick for our recent trip to Sri Lanka, oh no. For some strange reason, before this particular trip my husband and I were overcome with an unusual laid-back almost zen-like approach to catching our flight. I have to admit I'm generally the drill master in this situation but not this time. This was different. We (I mean 'he') agreed on the set time we would leave the house without allowing for the holiday mayhem that was about to unfold. We arrived at the airport with just over an hour to boarding to be told to join the crowd after giving our meager reasons for being 'a bit late'. After a few minutes a lady with a clipboard meekly called for any remaining Colombo passengers. We made our way, chest-first through the bulging queue, to the desk to be told boarding had closed. After a few heated arguments, we finally listened to the helpful chap behind the desk who explained that we must simply convert our big case into two newly-bought all cases (this seemed impossible at the time), if we want to get on the flight. We had gone from a relatively normal 2.2 family to a rampaged group of savages scurrying around on the airport floor flinging knickers around. The madness continued to the gate with my husband and I sprinting off through duty free like it was every man for themselves leaving the two kids to struggle with their luggage. We finally made it on board huffing and puffing, head down in shame, only to be sitting on the tarmac waiting for late passengers to arrive from shopping. Tut, tut. Coincidentally, I've decided to review our family travel rules and here are 5 of the more important ones: 1. Leave 2 hours earlier than usual especially when it is school holiday time - it may seem obvious but no one wants to start their trip with the slow painful shuffle in the misleading queue from hell. 2. Use hand-luggage sized suitcases only - when they're old enough, give each child a bit of responsibility by allocating them their own piece of luggage. 3. Check and double check the kids packing - my daughter felt that having two swimsuits and pj's were far more important than any underwear or clothes! 4. Discuss the travel plans more than once - and not on the day of the flight so you avoid pre-holiday airhead mode 5. Appoint a person in charge- this not only gives someone responsibility i.e. they think about the finer details, it also gives you the chance to blame the other person if that person isn't you! As expected, we arrived in Sri Lanka four or so hours later, $70 lighter (visa cost) where we were greeted by our smiley driver 'Udaya' with a perfectly incorrect sign 'Mr Z Looper'.