Melissa – Sri Lanka Luxury, a Destination HQ small group journey

I escorted a Destination HQ small group journey in Sri Lanka.  We stayed in some of the most luxurious properties in Sri Lanka, and got to experience the beauty of this up and coming travel destination.

Melissa George


Really impressed with this direct service between Melbourne and Colombo. Check in was relatively fast and efficient. They do offer a “bid for upgrade” function online, up to 36 hours before departure. Minimum bid on this sector was $750USD. Business class upgrade at check in was $850.00. Great to keep in mind!

The aircraft was clean and modern. Two hot meal services were served on the flight. I was impressed with the standard of the food. Throughout the flight water and other drinks were offered frequently.  In-flight entertainment was a touch screen and a great selection of new and old movies/tv shows were available.

Actual seat in economy was a bit uncomfortable due to a head rest that juts-out.

On arrival in Colombo we had the VIP express arrival booked. We still needed to line up at passport control, which took a long time (around 45 mins) but after this we were whisked away to a holding lounge, where we were presented with drinks and more food whilst they collected our baggage. We were then led out a back entrance straight to our van so skipped the whole arrivals chaos! 

Our Local operator was excellent throughout. Given that Sri Lanka loses 3000 people a year or road accidents, you need to ensure you have a safe driver – as well as a personable and knowledgeable tour guide..


Only a 10 minute drive to the airport (Colombo city is 45 mins to an hour away) Really convenient for Melbourne passengers arriving in late. Nice hotel, modern, but nothing spectacular. Breakfast was nice, buffet style with an eggs station too.


Amazing, expansive resort central to Dambulla, Sigiriya and Anaradapura.

Gorgeous little bungalows (all with private plunge pools) scattered over hectares. There are golf carts available to get you around the resort, or you can use the bicycles provided. 

It is quite isolated, so guests need to eat within the resort. Food was outstanding! A great variety of Sri Lankan and Western dishes. They also offer activities like horse riding, kayaking etc.

We did the cooking class which was one of the highlights of the trip. We were given aprons to take home, a certificate and recipe book – all really nice touches 🙂 highly recommend this property!


This boutique property, which is 8km out of Kandy City, is a refurbished colonial homestead with only 8 rooms. Each room is named after a butterfly and no two rooms are the same.

Although the rooms are gorgeous, this hotel won’t suit everyone. I stayed in the BLACK RAJA suite, one of the largest, but it had a Tub sitting in the middle of the floor (not great in the middle of the night!) and there was no privacy at all in the bathroom.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. And the food was excellent.


Basic train but wonderful scenery through all the tea plantations. It’s about a 2.5 hour journey.

Be warned when booking this that reservations are very difficult to confirm (we only got tickets 3 days prior to departure despite it being booked months in advance) well worth the effort though!


Highlight of the trip. This place is truly heaven on earth!

Norwood is one of the largest properties with 6 bedrooms. I had the master suite “Hazel” and it was incredible! This property is all inclusive and has its own Butler, chef etc 

Each day the chef comes out to discuss possible menus for the day. The food was top notch with lots of breakfast selections, 3 course lunch and dinner and an afternoon tea option too.

There are lots of walks available around the area, as well as mountain biking, kayaking etc for those who like to be active. We did a tour of the tea factory and learnt about the process of tea making, which was very interesting.

We also did a beautiful walk through a local village and up through the plantations themselves – another highlight 🙂


Historically significant walled fort on the South Coast of Sri Lanka. Has a very “hipster” vibe inside with plenty of trendy eateries and some shopping.

Enjoyed our time here at Taru Villa’s. I loved the walking tour around the fort, which was both educational and hilarious, with Shanjei. Definitely book this for your if you have a chance!

I also loved meeting a Red Hill boy who has set up a boutique guest house and coffee bar, also within the fort. Really great drip coffee (Vietnamese style) and iced tea during the day and cocktails and live music of an evening. It’s called THE PRINCE OF GALLE – they don’t have a website but you can check out some info here

Definitely worth a visit if you  are in the area!

The accommodation was a private villa inside the fort itself. Wasn’t my favourite property on the itinerary but still lovely, all the same.


We were lucky enough to stay at Uga Escapes here – a beautiful boutique property that offered sanctuary from the busy city!

Only 11 suites (all very large in size with a lovely bathroom) – amazing, personal service and food to die for. Really nice pool, too – and one of the few properties I stayed at with a gym!

One of the best meals of the trip was at their in-house restaurant – worth booking even if you aren’t staying here.

Other places we can recommend for dining:



About Melissa 

I began my career in the travel industry in 2005. In my time I have travelled to nearly every continent: Asia including Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China; USA & Canada; South Pacific including Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu; Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and Europe. My favourite destinations are New York City or Cape Town; both vibrant, chic, modern cities with lots to do and yummy food to eat! I also specialise in family travel, recently returning from my own multi-generation holiday at Club Med Kani, Maldives!