- San Francisco to Sydney: United Airlines First Class
- Eating Our Way Through Sydney + Hilton Sydney
- Road Trip to the Blue Mountains + Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort + Spa
- Diving at the Great Barrier Reef, Day Trip to Port Douglas + Hilton Cairns
- Stopover in Brisbane to Cuddle Koalas + Hilton Brisbane
- Brisbane to Male via Singapore: Singapore Airlines Business Class
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
- Extended Layover in Sri Lanka before ex-CMBing + Amangalla
- Colombo to London via Dubai: Emirates First Class
- Spending the Day at the Dubai Mall + Emirates First Class Terminal
- London to San Francisco: British Airways First Class
Around 1:30pm we began packing up our belongings and headed back to the main terminal at MLE. We're glad that we had lounge access as there really isn't much to do in the MLE airport - aside from a couple shops and restaurants upstairs, the entire downstairs waiting area is just seating. We hopped on our Sri Lankan Airline flight which was actually quite nice, and after just an hour we touched down at CMB.
So why the mini-trip to Sri Lanka? To be perfectly honest, initially it wasn't very high on my bucket list of places to go. But given that we were going to the Maldives, I couldn't resist the temptation to book one of the amazing ex-CMB trips back home (may she forever RIP). I certainly didn't maximize my ticket to the fullest extent possible since we didn't really have much time for any additional stopovers, but I was more than happy with the routing as I'd get two F legs on Emirates including the A380, a long layover in DXB to experience the Emirates F Terminal, and a TATL leg in British Airways F all for a pretty reasonable price.
Keeping with the theme of learning to keep my mouth shut, I mentioned to my wife that we'd need to stop in CMB on the way home since we would be traveling on another ticket. Her philosophy was that if we were going to divert to Sri Lanka just to go home, then we should spend at least a couple days there. I reluctantly agreed, but as I spent more time researching it my mindset completely changed as there appeared to be a lot of interesting things to do and see in Sri Lanka. [She later admitted to me that she only demanded a long layover since she thought that going home from CMB was a major detour from going home from MLE, sort of like flying to SFO-JFK-NRT]
In the end, with only 3 days/2 nights to work with, I decided to spend them in Galle and to stay at the Amangalla. If we had more time, I would have really like to head East and combine a few days at Amanwella, or to visit the Tea Trails in the central region.
There's a saying that you always remember your first - and for the rest of our lives we will both always remember our first Aman experience at Amangalla. I had been reading about the so-called Aman experience, but the glowing descriptions that people wrote just didn't do it justice. Even fresh off our stays at the Conrad Maldives and Wolgan Valley where the service was great, the Amangalla just put them both to shame. Every single detail and every single interaction we had with the staff was perfect, to the point that it felt like they were reading our minds.
We were greeted by the hotel representative at CMB and jumped in a car for the 3 hour drive to Galle. By the time we arrived it was fairly late in the evening, and after spending just a few minutes with our butler we ordered some food and retired for the night. The room definitely had a lot of charm with the 'Colonial' feel and actually very much resembled our room at the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi. As a special surprise, the bed had been decked out with coconut tree decor to celebrate our honeymoon.
Lighting a candle together as part of the welcome
Front entrance to the room
The next day we got a full tour of the rest of the property, which was much bigger than we anticipated from what we saw from the outside. There is a nice pool area, yoga pavilion with complimentary classes each morning, as well as a very nice spa which has two hot tub/sauna/steam/plunge pool areas that can be booked for private use.
Because we had arrived so late on the 1st day, we really only had 1.5 days left to explore the area. We started each day with a full breakfast which was served in the dining room and featured both Western and traditional Sri Lankan options. We were told that we could order as many things off of the menu as we liked, and that we did!
No shortage of tea in Sri Lanka
Breakfast bread basket
Traditional Sri Lankan hoppers
Similar to what we had done in the Maldives, we ate really big breakfasts which held us over until dinner time. On the 2nd day, we did have a complimentary lunch offered as part of the booking so of course we didn't turn it down. Additionally, all non-alcoholic drinks and snacks were complimentary from the mini-bar, and each day there was a complimentary afternoon tea and scones.
Zucchini fritters for lunch
Sunset view during afternoon tea
Afternoon tea with scones
There are a lot of activities organized through the hotel and in addition to taking a tour around the fort we also visited a nearby tea plantation, and also as a final honeymoon celebration participated in the private roti dinner at a nearby rice paddy owned by a friend of the GM. The dinner included a brief cooking lesson on how to make roti, which was much harder than it looked.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Galle, and are already thinking about another trip to Sri Lanka to see more of the country.
Great views walking along the fort wall
Dutch coat of arms on one side of the entrance, British coat of arms on the other
Private rice paddy dinner setup
Learning how to make roti
One last surprise waiting for us back in the room
Visiting a turtle hatchery on the way to the tea plantation
Visiting nearby tea plantation famous for virgin white tea
Learning how the tea is made
Scorpion orchid on the tea plantation
Virgin white tea