Thanks to the E01 expressway, travel time between Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport and Tangalle has been cut from six hours to three and a half. That has helped put this south-coast town on the map, but so too has the opening of the Anantara Peace Haven, the first large-scale resort in the area. On arrival, guests are greeted by smiling staff under a pillared portico that leads to a lobby designed to evoke a traditional courtyard house, its blue-tiled reflecting pools flanked by whitewashed colonnades. The breezy lounge area behind overlooks the resort’s two-tiered swimming pool and a swath of palm-studded beachfront, beyond which Indian Ocean waves roll onto a sloping stretch of golden sand. This view is shared by many of the 152 guest rooms and villas, all of which are done up in a pleasant 21st-century colonial style accented by hand-loomed textiles. The villas are well worth the splurge: apart from private pools, they come with the services of a butler who can arrange everything from spa treatments to cooking classes to buggy rides to Il Mare, the resort’s excellent Italian restaurant. He’ll also walk you through the list of local excursions: whale watching, boating in the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, and scaling the rock temple of Mulkirigala, to name but a few. (94-47/767-0700; tangalle.anantara.com; doubles from US$252).
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