A Wild Coast it is, with waves crashing against huge rocks and spiralling three metres into the air. Wild Coast Tented Lodge is as close to Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park as you can get, made up of 28 glamping Cocoons, a quirky bar and a dining complex built around a large infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
Traveller: Lisa Wagstaff
Room: Cocoon Suite
Address: Palatupana (neighbouring Yala National Park), Yala 82600, Sri Lanka
Date: April 2018
Best for: A unique luxury tented camp that complements a safari experience at Yala National Park
The Signature factor
Daily Jeep safaris in Yala National Park with a park ranger and Wild Coast Naturalist are included in the room rate. Yala is renowned as a home of leopards, elephants, sloth bears, water buffalo, native birds and the ruddy mongoose, which is found only in India and Sri Lanka.
A Resplendent Ceylon and Relais & Châteaux property, Wild Coast Tented Lodge offers a unique luxury experience with the most prestigious glamping tents in Sri Lanka. Situated between the Indian Ocean and the jungle, the lodge has used natural materials, including bamboo pavilions, to blend into the natural surrounds. The unique design was formulated by Nomadic Resorts, a consortium of Dutch, English and Sri Lankan designers. The lodge has a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.
We are taken to our room down a red gravel pathway decorated with UK artist Adrian Gray’s rock balance sculptures. We really feel we are in the jungle when we are advised not to leave our room at night without a guide; animals have been known to wander in from the national park and, in fact, are encouraged with watering holes and vegetation dotted around the property. From the boulder-shaped restaurant, we hear the wild tides crashing into the rocky beach. The lodge has certainly earned its name of Wild Coast.
For travellers looking for something unique, Wild Coast Tented Lodge should be at the top of your bucket list. Staying in a ‘Cocoon’ was certainly a first-time experience for me. I loved the copper bathroom fittings (the standalone copper bathtub had bear-paw feet), a wooden vintage-style suitcase that transforms into the mini-bar and a four-poster bed with indulgent linen. The decor is funky, colonial-expedition chic meets contemporary design.
Each end of the cocoon has floor-to-ceiling glass, with the front facing a man-made watering hole, attracting birds and wild boars, just a few of the animals that we spotted during our stay. Any windows left open are soon discovered by monkey friends, and although I’m that they would look very cute wearing my sunglasses, we decide to keep them shut as the lodge advises.
All Cocoons are built identically (the configuration emulates leopard paw prints). The four closest to the ocean have private plunge pools. Family suites have Urchins (a smaller tent) alongside them, providing a special experience for children.
On my plate
Our stay coincides with my mother’s birthday, so we had a special lunch set up for us in part of the garden facing the ocean. Four individual dishes of Sri Lankan chicken curry, yellow daal, eggplant curry and sides were served on oversized copper plates, followed by a birthday cake. The staff all gathered to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
The resort is fully inclusive and, after our safari, we enjoyed complimentary cocktails from the swim-up bar in the pool while watching the sun set.
Highlights from the mini-bar
The complimentary mini-bar includes red and white wine, beer, select spirits, non-alcoholic beverages and Dilmah Tea (Resplendent Ceylon is the brand’s hospitality arm). Caramel popcorn, marshmallows and nuts can be delivered to your Cocoon upon request.
I wish I could take home…
The leopard we spotted at Yala National Park on one of our daily included safaris.
Spa treatments incorporate two typical Sri Lankan ingredients, Ceylon tea and Ceylon cinnamon, used liberally in oils, scrubs and poultices.
I could easily spend a day sipping complimentary cocktails in the wraparound swimming pool. If you tire of this, the library is full of books and documentaries on the wildlife of Yala National Park.
Yala National Park is what we came for and the resort does morning and afternoon Jeep safaris. We set off in the morning to try to spot the park’s ‘Big 3’: elephants, sloth bears and leopards. Our knowledgeable guide and driver spotted numerous birds, elephants, water buffalo, spotted deer and wild boar, with only a near miss of seeing a sloth bear. The highlight was seeing two leopards, our luck skewed a little by the fact that Yala is said to have the highest population density of leopards in the world.
Best New Luxury Hotel of the Year, 2017 – ttgluxury Travel Awards
The Resplendent Ceylon collection, of which Wild Coast Tented Lodge is a part, is owned by the Fernando family, the creators of Dilmah Tea.
No need to fill up on the breakfast provided before your safari; a snack box is provided during the tour and allows for more relaxation time spent enjoying the pool and spectacular view.
Room for improvement
If you like the jungle and nature separated from your accommodation, this property is not for you.
Where to find Wild Coast Tented Lodge
Most people travel around Sri Lanka with a private driver. Your driver will know where to find the resort on Sri Lanka’s southeast coast.