REVIEW: Karpaha Sands Resort in Kalkudah, Sri Lanka

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Paradise found at the stunning Karpaha Sands Resort, in Kalkudah Sri Lanka.

As a fiery sun rises over the crystal-clear waters of Kalkudah beach and fisherman start hauling their nets to shore, a herd of baby goats strut down the sand as if it were a runway and a crowd of birds welcome daybreak by fleeing their nests in the palms, it becomes clear this is a very different Sri Lanka.

This is the remote, rugged and real Sri Lanka, devoid of tourist coaches or beach hecklers, free of supermarkets, booze shops and beach bars, this is where true escapism can be found .…and find it we did.

As Sri Lanka’s tourism industry recovers in a post-pandemic era, some of its newest resorts are able to finally show the world what’s on offer.

One of the most luxe of these resorts, Karpaha Sands, is located on the remote East Coast of Sri Lanka and has recently reopened its doors to tourists. Travel Weekly was lucky enough to visit this beautiful property.

The suites

Karpaha Sands is a luxury boutique resort comprising 17 tented suites with either direct beach or garden frontages, a restaurant, freshwater pool, beach bar/lounge and wellness spa.

The suites are incredibly spacious and beautifully appointed in natural tones and stone hues, reflective of the surrounding environment. With outdoor stone showers and private garden settings, each suite feels sophisticated, secluded and miles away from the rest of the world.

Set on 15 kilometres of pristine beach, the property offers both poolside relaxation and picture-perfect ocean swims.

Interestingly, the property is full of modern art pieces curated by the owners who are of European and Asian heritage and clearly have an excellent eye for design.

Some of the art is local and part of Karpaha Sands’ vision is to support, showcase and nurture Sri Lankan artists. From larger-than-life stainless-steel sculptures to travel photography and mixed media works that blend flawlessly with the architecture, there is a piece to ponder at every turn.

Signature experiences & spa

It is also the resort’s signature experiences that make Karpaha Sands truly special. From curated lagoon side dinners to private ‘under the stars/feet in the sand’ cinema experiences and beach BBQs, the staff here seek to make every stay personalised, unique, and memorable.

The wellness spa is an experience like no other. Set deep in the gardens of the resort, the outdoor massage tables are surrounded by the sounds of the jungle and the lapping of the ocean.

The art of ancient ayurvedic massage is practised here and the therapists are experts in their craft. And excitingly, in the coming months, they will be launching a much broader wellness offering inclusive of retreats, so watch this space!

Food & beverage offering 

The bar and restaurant area offers sweeping views of the ocean and a modern menu centred around fresh seafood and daily specials.

With a focus on health and wellbeing, there is something for all tastebuds on offer inclusive of a dedicated ‘mini’ menu for the tots.

In recent months, the property has seen a high demand for destination weddings and with its unique approach to offering tailor-made experiences for all guests, no stone is left unturned when it comes to creating an opulent yet intimate wedding.

Good to know

The resort also demonstrates an unwavering commitment to sustainability and living lightly. Karpaha Sands is completely plastic-free, employs and trains local staff from regional towns and villages and integrates seamlessly with the nearby fishing communities.

Karpaha Sands can be reached by train, car, coach or tuk tuk or guests can fly to Batticaloa international airport and transfer from there. The best time to visit is between April and October however we were there in March and the weather was perfect.

Join us next week for an in-depth review of Karpaha Sands’ exciting all day and fine dining restaurant.

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