SRI LANKAN SLOTH BEAR
Of Sri Lanka’s many vivid and varied species of fauna, the sloth bear is a prominent specimen. A descendant of the bear species, sloth bears are on a league of their own; in fact, they are not known to hibernate, which is typically out of character for bears. Like many other animals it shares its habitat with, the sloth bear is heavily reliant on the forest, which has unfortunately been declining thanks to selfish human acts. This in turn means that the sloth bear’s existence has been inevitably impacted as well, creating an uncertain future for them as they are now listed as a threatened species.
The Palu (Manilkara Hexandra) season lasts from May- June, and this also sometimes coincides with the Weera (Drypetes Sepiara) berry season, both of which are a delicacy for the sloth bear. They go to great lengths to get to them, often clambering up into the very tops of the Palu trees which can grow taller than 30 metres. Balancing precariously on their haunches, they pull down the branches to strip off the sweet fruit with their purposefully-evolved fleshy lips. Quite comically, they will also often get intoxicated by eating too much of the Palu, and can be found slumbering in the swaying branches, occasionally falling out of the tree, only to shake it off and move on in search of another tree.
Complete with long, shaggy black fur, these creatures are omnivorous, and feast on insects and fruits, as well as bee’s honey when they can get it. They are most commonly found in Wilpattu and Yala national parks, the latter of which is easily accessible from our Chena Huts property in Yala. Book a Yala safari to get upclose and personal with them and make use of some great photo opportunities as well. Though elusive, they are inquisitive and harmless, but be sure to respect their space at all times.
Ulagalla by Uga Escapes, one of the luxury hotel chain’s highly sought after properties in Sri Lanka, recently unveiled a whole new look. With 7 years in the hospitality industry celebrated in 2017, Ulagalla has since its inception, been heavily invested in delivering an authentic, traditional experience, without compromising on modern comforts. These principles have clearly been borne in mind, even when setting about their refurbishing efforts.
Located within Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle in Anuradhapura, Ulagalla has always had its roots firmly embedded in its regal, ancestral origins. The 150-year old mansion set on an expansive property of 58 acres, and features 20 incredibly private, ecologically constructed chalets. Furthermore, it also makes use of a solar farm that is responsible for generating upto half of the hotel’s energy requirements. As a property that is highly focused on adapting sustainable business practices, this initiative is one that Ulagalla takes very seriously.
The inspiration behind the interiors at Ulagalla during its revamp, are drawn from several sources inherent in the grounds and history of the original Waluwa: the splendour of its natural surroundings complemented by the magic of timeless tranquility and the ethereal eminence of the region. Antique Ceylonese furniture styles have incorporated colonial designs, whilst the colour palette was carefully chosen so as to frame the beauty of the natural surroundings, ensuring a sense of peacefulness and calm.
Additionally, intuitive lighting solutions were also added to the mix, enabling better and easier options for privacy as well as from a design point of view. Some of the changes include:
- The bedrooms, which have seen the four-poster beds revamped with a softer, more romantic drape to the bed canopy. They also feature colonial style bedside tables in front of the ethereal screens, complete with hammered brass lamps with light shades, improving the bedside light quality.
- The wardrobe area has been updated with an appreciation for local craftsmanship. The louvers have been replaced with hand-woven rattan screen doors.
- A colonial writing desk overlooking the pool has replaced planter chairs, balancing the room and inviting guests to evoke an earlier era where letter writing and journaling were commonplace, and an art.
- The former touch panel for controlling the lighting has been replaced with intuitive switch panels bedside, below the screens. What is more, USB ports and multi-plug sockets have also been fitted into the switch panel to enhance guest experience.
Bathrooms were re-designed to incorporate a minimalist elegance coupled with the traditional, through marble, quartz vanity tops on the Ceylonese styled bathroom vanities and transitional brass fittings. A consistent rattan design has also been emulated throughout the chalet furniture, including the bathroom vanity as well as TV console and minibar cabinet.
The living area sees a traditional Ceylonese divan sofa with soft cushioning take centre stage, surrounded by cushioned traditional rattan armchairs, hammered brass table lamps and a large sofa table. A dining table for two is placed so as to have views of the pool and borrows from the style of the original Walauwa.
The earlier cane blinds have given way to a softly draped trio of curtains, sheers and blinds, increasing the sophistication of the chalet, whilst giving guests the options of privacy as well as blocking out sunlight.
The changes are set to elevate Ulagalla’s presence so existing and potential clients can be sure to experience nothing short of their best in hospitality.
TREAT YOURSELF THIS SEASON WITH UGA ESCAPES
It seems rather unbelievable to say that Christmas is peeking around the corner again… it probably feels as though you just polished off that last piece of cake, settling into the New Year. This also means that Sri Lanka’s ‘Festive Season’ is here which is hands-down, one of the best times to be in the country. As any local will tell you, this time is eagerly anticipated, when everyone decides that they have worked quite hard enough all year round and deserve a break, taking off in all different directions to enjoy a much-needed holiday. What is more, for those of you used to a ‘Winter Wonderland’ type of Christmas, our tropical festivities are a true delight and a completely new experience to soak in with concerts, events and Christmas themed parties galore. Colombo is buzzing with activity during the month of December and has a lot to offer in celebrations which you can immerse in with Residence by Uga Escapes.
Every corner is decorated with something be they lavishly designed and elegantly crafted Christmas trees, elves, Santa Clauses, and hundreds upon hundreds of blinking, colourful lights. Even though the percentage of people who celebrate Christmas in the island amounts to a mere 7% which is a cinch in this dominantly Buddhist country, the spirit of the season is embraced with gusto and enjoyed by everyone regardless of religion, caste or creed. Much like the rest of the world, preparations begin weeks in advance, with stores morphing into Christmas themes launching sales and promotions, people scurrying about like ants shopping for gifts and food. Adding to it all, radio stations begin playing old and new carols.
The country’s Portuguese, Dutch and British roots are generally on display through infrastructure and architecture present in the country. A few examples include the Dutch hospital in Colombo now converted to quaint restaurants and shops (whilst keeping its original design intact), the Colombo Museum, the Galle Fort and Galle in general. These cultural influences also strongly manifest themselves when Christmas rolls around, mostly obvious through the cuisine. It is believed that Christmas was first celebrated back in the 1500s when the Portuguese embarked, the first of many civilizations to change the landscape forever. Today, these traditions are still strong and you will always find a hearty roast complemented with a soft, aromatic Breudher doused in butter on a Sri Lankan Christmas table without fail.
Enhance your holiday with rare, the main restaurant at Residence by Uga Escapes, which is an elegant, up-scale restaurant situated in the heart of Colombo with a delectable menu for you to indulge in. As they will also be preparing a special menu especially for Christmas Eve, you can look forward to enjoying a cosy, close-knit Christmas with friends and family. Make sure you snap some pictures with the exquisitely decorated, expansive Christmas tree, a regular feature at the hotel.
As you draw 2017 to a close, relax and look back on the year gone by at Ulagalla, Jungle Beach, Uga Bay, Residence or Chena Huts. Whether you want to bid adieu by the ocean or in the middle of the jungle, there is always an option for you. Treat yourself this season with Uga Escapes.