We value their feedback, as it allows us to better understand our guests’ expectations and create more memorable experiences in the future,” said Deni A. Dukic, General Manager, Galle Face Hotel.
We are immensely thankful to everyone who took the time to review us on TripAdvisor over the course of the last year.
Guests have long been captivated by the colonial charm the hotel resonates, which is combined with our team’s dedicated approach towards providing them with a unique experience upon every visit.
“It is a distinguished pleasure to be recognized by our patrons as one of the best properties in Sri Lanka.
Categories are both international and regional, and include everything from the top hotels, luxury, family, boutique hotels, B&Bs and inns.
The travel planning and booking site determined the winners based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travellers worldwide. The awards reflect the “best of the best” for service, quality, and customer satisfaction.
Now in its 15th year, these annual awards are the only travel industry awards based on millions of reviews and opinions from travellers around the world.
Established in 2002, the Travellers’ Choice awards are the highest honor TripAdvisor can bestow.
South Asia’s leading Grande Dame, the iconic Galle Face Hotel recently won a Travellers’ Choice award in a survey conducted by TripAdvisor. Ranked as one of the Top 25 hotels to visit in Sri Lanka, the award is a testament to the exceptional service and attention to detail which is weaved seamlessly into the old world grandeur and modern sensibility that Galle Face Hotel has consistently been well known.
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Courtesy of PK Balachandran | Express News Service | Published: 22nd February 2017.
COLOMBO: The Vethodys, a family of Malayali entrepreneurs with roots in Kerala and Sri Lanka, have brought back to life a slice of Colombo’s colonial past with the re-launch of their extensively renovated 135-year-old iconic Hotel Nippon situated in the heart of the capital’s business district.
“Nippon” as it is popularly known, occupies Manning Mansions in Slave Island, a place which the 16th Century Portuguese rulers of Colombo had used to house slaves brought from Africa. Being one of the oldest buildings in Colombo, Manning Mansions were designated as one of its “heritage” buildings by the Sri Lankan Department of Archeology with strict rules for their upkeep.
Hotel Nippon found its place in cinematic history when it was featured in David Lean’s Academy Award-winning film Bridge On The River Kwai shot in Ceylon in the mid-1950s. According to Dr.Valsan Vethody, a Director of the hotel, some of the indoor shots of the Japanese army headquarters were shot in Nippon, and its then joint proprietor, Greg Roskowski, a Polish émigré, had acted in the film as one of the British Prisoners of War.
Built in 1882, Manning Mansions initially comprised 14 apartments to house British military officers. But sometime in the 20th Century, Roskowski senior bought it and turned it into a hotel which was popular with sailors.
For a short while Roskowski ran it as “Hotel Polski” but renamed it as “Hotel Nippon” when he married a Japanese lady. The Japanese connection got strengthened in the mid 1950s, when Roskowski’s son Greg, an announcer in the then hugely popular English service of Radio Ceylon, also took a Japanese bride. Serving authentic Japanese food along with continental and local fare, Nippon became a must for Japanese visitors to Colombo.
Meanwhile, Roskowski junior’s Japanese wife took as her business associate, Vethody Kumaran, a Ceylonese of Kerala origin, who, after leaving the engineering corps of the British army, was running a restaurant at Pettah.
But it did not take Kumaran long to assume full ownership of the hotel. Under Kumaran, Nippon retained its place as one of the three modern hotels within Colombo city, the others being Galle Face Hotel and the Grand Oriental Hotel. Nippon is thus an indelible landmark in the hospitality history of Colombo.
But the good times came to an abrupt end in 1983 when ethnic riots convulsed Colombo.
“From 1983 to till the end of the war in 2009, it was a dark age for the hotel,” recalled Vishnu K.Vethody, the young Managing Director of the hotel and a grandson of Vethody Kumaran. Nippon was particularly hard hit because it was located in a life-threatening zone housing the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Army and Air Force – institutions which were under constant threat from terrorists. In fact, on January 2, 2008, a bomb targeting an army bus went off right outside the hotel killing four.
But once the war ended in May 2009, the Vethody clan sprang to life. Encouraged by the Urban Development Authority’s ambitious plan for the restoration of heritage buildings in Colombo, the Vethody brothers Valsan, Vasan, Chandrasena and the later Prasannan, launched an ambitious LKR 400 million (US$ 2 million) project to completely renovate the rooms and the building, while keeping intact the basic design, the trade mark façade, and the sturdy staircases made of 130 year old Burma teak.
“The fixtures in the hotel, including the linen used in the rooms, are imported and on par with other top hotels in Colombo,” Vishnu points out.
With Indians being the single largest group among tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka, Nippon caters to the Indian palate too. It is the only hotel to serve the famous “Madras filter coffee”. And being Keralites, the Vethodys have seen to it that the hotel serves a range of authentic Malayali dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. General Manager Amitha Manchanaike sitting at the helm, ensures that the administrative machinery is well oiled and up and running round the clock.
And the tariff is competitive, points out Vishnu.
“One does not have to have a deep pocket to book into Nippon as the charge per day for bed and breakfast is just US$ 60, with all taxes included. Given the low tariff people come with low expectations, planning to stay for a day. But seeing the good conditions, many end up extending their stay by three or four days,” he said.
Bringing back memories
The renovated Nippon is meant to revive pleasant memories of the Colombo of the fifties and sixties when it was a swinging city with a distinctly Westernized air. Located not far from the sea front, the Beira Lake and cinema theaters, Nippon was a favorite rendezvous for young couples up to the late 1970s.
“It was common for young people to see an English movie at the Rio and walk across to Nippon to have milkshakes or ice creams before heading home. I have come across couples in their sixties and seventies dropping in only to go back to their romantic past. An elderly lady got teary eyed recalling how her beau proposed to her sitting right here,” Vishnu said.
Situated in a commercial area, Nippon has been a busy eatery during the day, famous for its “short eats” especially mutton rolls.
“Our rolls makers have been passing their skill down generations. This is the secret of the uniqueness of Nippon’s rolls,” Vishnu said.
The personal attention that Nippon’s staff gave to its customers had created an emotional bond between the two.
“Personal service has been one of Nippon’s strong points right through. And we will to maintain it,” Vishnu pledged.
And the Vethodys set the example. With airs whatsoever, they make it a point to address all staff members by their first names and move around the premises chit chatting with them. The Vethodys often go on excursions with the hotel staff to infuse informality in relations.
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Juliet Coombe checks out the cities most exciting hospitality newcomer Jetwing Colombo Seven – Courtesy of Daily News.
Remember the scene in ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ where the Devil, played brilliantly by Al Pacino, takes the Attorney, Kevin, played by Keanu Reaves, onto the rooftop of his high rise building with an amazing infinity pool and a view to die for? Well, the setting at the top of Jetwing Colombo Seven is similar but even more beautiful, especially at dusk, and the good news being a Jetwing property you don’t have to sell your soul for it.
Neither will you be tempted, like Jesus, by the same Devil, to think that you might have dominion over all you see if you worship him, for this has been built by a family with the greatest integrity and vision, who ward off such spirits and ensure that everyone they work with is valued as it is the Jetwing team that makes Jetwing Hotels exceptionally special experiences. Like his father, Herbert Cooray the company founder, before him, Hiran Cooray Chairman of Jetwing Hotels has strong vision and religious faith in God and his amazing team. His father had the inspiration to build Jetwing Colombo Seven but sadly never saw it materialise in his life time “But I am sure his blessings from above will always be here”, Hiran says.
Jetwing vision spans the whole of Sri Lanka and will one day, no doubt, go beyond its shores to teach the rest of the world how to value mother nature so it is protected and all its beauty, but also equally importantly all the people involved in the wonderful business of making people from all over the world feel at home in the best settings the island has to offer. In fact, the family, and this is another key element to their success, goes beyond making you feel at home and towards making their staff and you feel that they are part of maintaining a healthy, diverse, exciting and sustainable approach that protects the island for future generations to enjoy in the same way, and working in a new constructive world dominated by clarity and most importantly of all integrity they make the impossible happen even with the smallest plots of land, which in this case was originally Herbert Cooray’s family home.
Jetwing Colombo Seven is the latest in an exciting line of stunning hotels to be rolled out by the group around the country with more opening later in the year. The hotel caters to all tastes but is probably most attractive to the serious business traveller who needs to put in a focused, productive day in the business centre of Colombo, a very short ride away from Ward Place without the stress of battling through hair-raising grid locked traffic. Its central location makes it possible to return quickly after meetings to complete peace and tranquillity, either to unwind in the most relaxing possible way or to finish off communications for the day’s tasks in a conducive boudoir designed to be both chic and ultra modern.
A world of amazing shapes
Hiran, a lover of world travel and great architecture, explains how the inspiration for this stunning property, on a tiny plot of land, came from a very small Hotel in Singapore called the Naumi. When Hiran stayed there, he thoroughly enjoyed the utilisation of the space in this small block and immediately wanted to meet the architect who designed it. That is how Hiran met Sim Boon Yang of Eco ID and invited him to Sri Lanka to design a hotel for Jetwing.
One can only fully appreciate the brilliance of this architect by zipping up in the lift to the rooftop and diving into the beautiful pool overlooking Colombo. You won’t feel like you are swimming in a pool, but more like flying through the city like Peter Pan, surrounded by a world of amazing shapes lit up in dazzling bold neon lights against a moody black crenelated tropical Manhattan skyline. This is where the infinity experience really comes into its own, some twelve storeys above the exciting port city of Colombo. The bar is also perfectly situated for a valentine’s liaison, a deal clincher if ever there was one. A superbly stocked bar which to be honest you need not drink at all here for you will get quite tipsy enough on the atmosphere, ambience and altitude of the setting.
After the most breath-taking of swims as the sun sets over the city turning from orangey reds to royal purple golden hues, you will be ready for something to eat and you can continue to drink in the panoramic views from the comfort of the hotels world class restaurant, treated to exquisite food cooked by the young Indika Bandara, trained under the three star Michelin Chef Yannick Alleno. In the luxury of such, you can admire the sights in slow comfort, of this tropical resort style setting – the Nelum Pokuna Theatre is particularly stunning with its flower-like vibrant colours at night and depending on which direction you are looking you will see views of the Indian Ocean and be able to see historic buildings like the National Gallery and the National Museum amongst many other architectural wonders.
A birds eye window
As with all Jetwing hotels, the staff reflect its style, with the management having wide and long worldly experience whilst the ‘7’ team are drawn from both the local population with great knowledge of their surroundings or having been trained at other great hosting establishments. They are trained primarily to make you feel fully at ease, being attentive when you need help whilst also knowing when to leave you in peace.
The hotel is also fully fitted with a host of other great things such as four very different conference rooms for a diverse range of presentational styles, a luxurious spa, 24 hour room service, a concierge service with fantastic local knowledge and, if you are poorly or just need a little advice on your health, a resident doctor. And, of course, there is a fully fitted gym where you can listen to your favourite music whilst you treadmill-walk the perfect city panorama.
Whilst it’s still affordable, with amazing opening deals this hotel is an absolute must for those seeking solace and great service with a multitude of facilities in a unique resort style ambience in the heart of it all and who want to feel that penthouse amongst penthouses experience, up on a prominent city ‘mountain’, to reflect and recuperate, free from the temptations of the buzzy world below.
Hiran who sees his father as both his hero and his guru says building this hotel was pivotal to his fathers vision of the Jetwing group being an island wide group “I would like to see Sri Lanka positioned as one of the best Island nations in the World, offering not only lovely beaches but also wildlife, culture, thousands of years of fascinating history, and amazing greenery. We are known all over the world for the beauty of our Island, but today’s traveller is not aware of the product improvement that has happened over the past seven years, since the end of the thirty year conflict. This needs to be communicated so that we can continue to attract discerning travellers to our Island.”
Hiran, along with selecting a great architect, has put together a dream team and is delighted to have Ramesh Costa, who was based in London for over 30 years, join Jetwing as the general manager of Jetwing Colombo Seven. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Sri Lanka and Jetwing, not only in food and beverages but also in general management.
This is truly a hotel in the centre of Colombo with a birds eye window on the world and a style that embodies everything that is truly Sri Lankan, from a family whose roots run deep into the very soul of the island, or in this case, the very foundations on which this magnificent hotel is built. For me, the view from the roof, the azure swimming pool bar’s uber cool minimalist design, and the terrific restaurant will make this a legendary stopping-off point for all worldly travellers that truly appreciate premium hospitality.
Colombo, February 01 2017 : SriLankan Airlines as part of its efforts to maintain the highest standards as the trademark national carrier has renewed its registration under the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) for the years 2016-2017 in conformity with standards introduced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IOSA assesses the airline on eight operational scopes. The audit is conducted by an IATA accredited audit organization, in accordance with the IOSA I Program Manuals, and the standards that are published in IOSA Standard Manuals. Even though the assessment mainly focuses on operational areas, it also includes accountability of organisational management functions relevant to aviation safety.
The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. IOSA Registered Airlines are subject to renewal assessments every 24 months. All IATA members are IOSA registered and must remain registered to maintain IATA membership. SriLankan Airlines first attained the IOSA operator status in 2006 has retained its registration since then.
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Colombo, February 01 2017: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) awarded SriLankan Airlines the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) renewal Registration, following the successful completion of a comprehensive audit of ground-handling operations at Bandaranayake International Airport (CMB).
The SriLankan Airlines Company is the 158 ground handling company in the world to receive the mentioned registration.
ISAGO is an audit program for ground-handling companies serving airlines at airports.
ISAGO registration is IATA program that is modeled after the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which assesses Ground service provider operational management and control systems.
ISAGO is built around a set of harmonized internationally recognized standards and accepted system for assessing the operational management and control systems of the Ground Service Provider.
IATA's decision to award SriLankan Airlines renewal registration came after a comprehensive audit carried out by an IATA-licensed ISAGO audit team.
During the combined headquarters and station renewal audits, licensed auditors from Saudi Airlines carried out the ground operations audit at the Bandaranayake International Airport (CMB), following almost 400 standards. This portion of the renewal audit involved headquarters and station management system, passenger and baggage handling, load control, aircraft handling & loading, aircraft ground movement and cargo & mail handling.
ISAGO offers benefits to airlines, ground handlers, regulatory as well as airport authorities. Among them, safer ground operations, fewer accidents and injuries, elimination of redundant audits, reduced costs, less damage and fewer audits, a uniform audit process and harmonized standards, improved safety oversight, harmonized auditor training and qualifications, improved quality standards, enhanced understanding of high-risk areas within ground operations.
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