Impressions Of Amanwella In Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Earlier I shared my initial thoughts on Amangalla, which is one of the two Aman properties in Sri Lanka. In this post I wanted to share my initial thoughts on Amanwella, which is the other property.

We did the “Fort & Beach Journey,” with Amangalla representing the “fort,” and Amanwella representing the “beach.” For what it’s worth, the rate at Amanwella was $900 per night, but that included half board, two massages, and a couple of other activities.

So, here are my initial thoughts:

Amanwella location

Amanwella is located in the town of Tangalle, which is along the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. It’s about a four hour drive from Colombo Airport, and about a two hour drive from Amangalla, so Amangalla is basically right on the way. For the most part the roads are very good, so aside from randomly being pulled over by the police (which happened to us twice), it’s an easy enough ride.

By the way, on our last day I realized that Amanwella is only about 90 minutes from Sri Lanka’s deserted $200 million airport, so I’m really sad I didn’t go to check that out.

The town of Tangalle as such isn’t nearly as charming as Galle, in my opinion. Visiting this area is really all about the beautiful beaches.

Amanwella rooms

Amanwella has 27 villas, each of which features a plunge pool. I believe all the villas are the same inside, with the only difference being the views they have of the ocean.

For a base room I’d say this is insanely nice.

I also loved the dual outdoor area, as there was a plunge pool in the front and then a big patio in the back.

Amanwella amenities & public areas

This hotel really is gorgeous.

The centerpiece of the hotel is the stunning infinity pool, located right beneath the restaurant and bar.

The hotel is also on a lovely stretch of beach. The one catch is that the water here is really rough, so it’s not ideal for swimming (though I’ll admit that in the below picture it looks quite calm).

The hotel has private lounge chairs down by the beach, and pretty attentive service there as well.

The hotel has two restaurants — the main restaurant is on top of the pool, and has very nice seating options.

Next to the main restaurant is a bar, which was almost always completely empty.

Then down by the beach the hotel has yet another restaurant, just open for lunch and dinner.

The hotel also has a library area.

Two big oversights

Not to nitpick, but…

First of all, Amangalla didn’t have a gym, and neither did Amanwella. I just don’t get that. I was surprised when Amangalla didn’t have one, but figured “oh, it’s in an old colonial building, and space is limited.”

The property for Amangalla is huge, so I don’t know what made them decide to not build a gym, especially when you consider that many people stay at these hotels back-to-back, and may want to work out over the course of a week. We brought this to the attention of management, and they said “it wasn’t in the plans” when the hotel was built, but they appreciated the feedback.

On the plus side, they were able to arrange gym access at the nearby Anantara hotel. Unfortunately this was at the cost of 45USD per person per visit, which is outrageous. This is just a standard hotel gym, we didn’t even have access to anything else, not that we would have wanted it. But having to pay 100USD for two people to go to a hotel (including a tuk tuk) is obscene, especially given how much we were paying to stay at the Aman.

You’d think they’d be able to come up with a better arrangement.

The second point is more strange than problematic, but the hotel doesn’t have a real spa. Instead they converted a guest room into a spa. That means there’s no spa reception, no additional amenities, and you fill out your spa consultation form while sitting on a small bench intended for luggage.

This hotel is soooo beautifully designed in so many ways, but I don’t get those two issues.

Amanwella service

Service at Amanwella was similar to the service at Amangalla. That’s to say that service was good, but not quite to the standard I’ve come to expect at some other Amans. I will say that housekeeping was on top of things, management was very active, and people were all very friendly and well intentioned.

But a lot of aspects of service were still a production. For example, it often took 10+ minutes to get coffee in the mornings, and then an equal amount of time to get sweetener or milk, for example.

Amanwella food

The food at Amanwella was spectacular, both in terms of the selection and the quality. We loved the food here so much, so I’ll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves.

Prices at Amanwella

Much like at Amangalla, the prices were quite reasonable once you were actually on property. Hour-long massages were $85 including taxes and service charges, appetizers were $10-15, mains were $15-25, etc.

Bottom line

We had a great time at Amanwella, and really found it to be incredibly relaxing. The villas here are beautiful, and the hotel has a picturesque setting, in particular thanks to all the palm trees. The food was top notch as well.

In terms of this service this also wasn’t one of the best Amans, though I’d still highly recommend this. If you’ve never stayed at an Aman and want to visit just one beach resort, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice (I’d probably do Amanpulo or Amankila), but for those who want to visit Sri Lanka and/or for Amanjunkies who have visited those, I definitely think Amanwella is worth a visit.

Comments

  1. Great review Ben. As one who has been too often disappointed with Amans, my take is that the shortcomings you mentioned (eg, no gym, unpolished service, sparsely furnished rooms) are more reflective of the Aman experience than the exemplary service you have been “lucky” to have had at some of their other properties.

  2. @lucky – great write up. My wife and I are staying at that Anatara later this year. Any thoughts on the property/location? Many thanks!

  3. @ Kylar — Can’t say too much about it since I only used the gym, but the property looked pretty nice, and the beach in that area is beautiful. Hope you have a great stay!

  4. @ Michael F — Interesting, appreciate your perspective. Out of curiosity, which Amans have you stayed at?

  5. @ The Value Traveler — You could redeem Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific, or American miles on Etihad or Qatar, all of which are great deals.

  6. Ben. Great review. I think for nearly $1k a night you are being too forgiving. Average service, an unswimable beach at a beach hotel, a makeshift spa and no gym….. I appreciate you love his brand , however would you accept this from a standard Hilton property at half the price ?

  7. I stayed at both Amanwella and Amangalla last year. I loved Amanwella, especially the beach, but remember always waking up early because the shutters in the villa’s don’t block out the daylight (I published a review with some Youtube impressions: https://theluxurytravelexpert.com/2018/06/20/review-amanwella/). I agree that the lack of a gym and spa is puzzling. They told me last year that a new spa was opening this year, but I guess that, based on your review, they haven’t progressed with those plans :-). Enjoy your stay! Are you also visiting Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala National Park? Highly recommended!

  8. Headed to Sri Lanka next month, so this article/post excites me. Said it once, I’ll say it again, I just love your blog. Not every review or post applies to me, but overall, it’s my favorite, most informative, and most well rounded travel site that I visit every day.

  9. “Instead they converted a guest room into a spa.”

    The Amanjiwo (outside of Yogyakarta in the center of Java) has the same setup, however they pull it off nicely by having what is clearly a public space, and then private spaces behind.

  10. “This is just a standard hotel gym, we didn’t even have access to anything else, not that we would have wanted it.”

    Well that told the Anantara!

  11. You’ve stayed at a few of these Aman’s in the past year or two and I’m really surprised how cheap they are compared to how much I’m paying at Amanyara. I guess Amanyara has the US on its doorstep?

  12. Ahh! When I saw that you stayed here, I thought for sure it was pretext for checking out the ghost airport. I guess you’ll have to go back; that is a fascinating story.

  13. Great review. Though since you travel so extensively and mentioned the lack of a gym twice, I have to say I’m surprised you haven’t figured out a way around this. A good personal trainer could give you a very long list of great workouts that require nothing more than a little space. I often meet my trainer at the gym for convenience but don’t touch a single piece of equipment. You guys could’ve had amazing workouts on that patio and on the beach!

  14. Time for some creativity in this blog: you should at least have taken a peak at the spectacular Cape Weligama (Relais & Chateaux) practically next door to Amanwella and sister hotel of the Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala.

  15. I recently had an unscheduled, brief stopover at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport – the deserted airport you mention. It was extraordinary.

    It has no international flights and no scheduled domestic flights, yet there it is, in the middle of nowhere. Well maybe not nowhere, it’s near the Sri Lankan president-at-the-time home village. Hmmmm. It is fully staffed, beautifully new with a functioning restaurant and tourist kiosks. Staff everywhere but no passengers! The toilets were lovely, so clean. It’s a white elephant and a shocking, shameful waste of money.

  16. @Ben A hotel without a gym is not forgivable. And charging a guest to fix the shortcomings of the property it just outrageous. They don’t really understand customer service.

    Reminds me of staying at a Marriott in Moscow and asking about exercise facilities. They apologised for not having a pool, and offered to drive me to another Marriott if I preferred to swim. At zero cost.

  17. I’m not really seeing the value in Aman. Seems like the majority of the Aman reviews posted here have some significant shortcomings (less-than-stellar bathroom in Sveti Stefan, lack of exercise facilities in Sri Lanka, 10+ minutes to get coffee, etc.) Things like these would merit a much lower review on this blog if it were at another hotel chain. Rooms seem to be priced astronomically for countries where the price point should be considerably lower. Even the much-vaunted level of Aman personal-attention-to-detail seems to be lacking in a number of their properties reviewed here.

    I get that our host is an Aman fanboy, but c’mon …

  18. @Peter. If you’re looking for luxury and value for money then go to Four Seasons. Can’t beat that. Aman are smaller and typically more exclusive, but they aren’t perfect. Often they’re $1,000+ more per night, so if you think that’s a lot of extra cash for a hotel night then you’ll probably be disappointed at Aman

  19. Did the duo property booking a few years back. Galle location was charming and beach location was underwhelming for the money being spent. There is much better value to be had along the southern coast. The beach property is over rated.

  20. For many of the older Amans (Amanjiwo, Amankila) a gym or spa wasn’t originally in the plans. They really need to rectify that because that’s the modern day expectation. Indeed, Amanyara didn’t originally have a so planned and converted a villa. The biggest asset of Amans are privacy. If you covet walking around the property and having it almost all to your self then it’s thd place for you…

    To whoever is staying at Amanyara- not worth it; it’s waaaaay too expensive for what’s you get. Try Amanera instead. Better rooms.

  21. Who needs a gym when you can go for a swim in the ocean (or the pool if you are boring) and go for a run along the shore?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *