The Luxe List 2009, Sri Lanka: The Wallawwa, Kotugoda

Skip the hour-long journey into Colombo from the international airport by starting your Sri Lankan holiday at The Wallawwa, an 18th-century manor house set in lush surrounds near Negombo Beach. Blissfully quiet despite their proximity to the planes, the 14 guest rooms are outfitted with Balinese canopy beds, colonial-inspired furniture, and terrazzo-clad bathrooms with huge rain showers. Upgrade to a suite to enjoy a large living area and private garden overlooking the courtyard pool and its padded loungers. Mornings begin with platters piled high with tropical fruits like mangosteen and papaya, followed by New York–trained chef Alex Stanich’s delicious apple pancakes. Come dinnertime, Stanich proves equally adept at preparing spicy Sri Lankan curries alongside some of the island’s tastiest Western dishes. Before moving on to Galle or Kandy, be sure to spend some time at the Z Spa, where signature massages combine Ayurvedic principles with circulation-enhancement techniques to help you recover from any jet lag (Minuwangoda Rd.; 94-773/864-384;; doubles from US$140).

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