I have never met a sunrise I didn’t like. It’s that magical moment when the world is still rising from its dreamy state and reality is just setting in. But the view from our premier suite in Arie Lagoon overlooking the Negombo lagoon was not just another view.
Waking up early has never been my forte, but somehow that morning in Sri Lanka I was up before dawn. Last evening had been hectic for us as our flight had got delayed and we reached the hotel late at night. However, the staff at Arie Lagoon welcomed us with warm smiles and made sure we had dinner at once and didn’t have to wait for the check-in formalities.
After having our welcome drinks, we were escorted to the pool facing restaurant, Banana Prawn restaurant and found the large dinner spread very pleasing. The name of the restaurant is derived from the special kind of shrimp living in the lagoon.
We stayed in the premier suite which has a spacious sitting area and a private courtyard opening out to the panoramic views of the lagoon. The large bed is super comfy and you can catch the sunrise right from your bed through the large french window. The 52inch LED TV is just an added bonus.
Starting off the day
Negombo is a traditional fishing town in Sri Lanka, very close to the international airport and a perfect place to begin or end your holiday in Sri Lanka. Due to the high number of Dutch and Portuguese era churches this town is also known as “Little Rome”. There are also some very old colonial buildings and a 100 km long canal known as the Dutch Canal running through the heart of the city. But the most highlighted attractions in Negombo are the beach and the lagoon and the resort located right between them. While we did not find the beach very interesting with choppy waters, the lagoon is a retreat for nature lovers.
That morning, as I stepped out of the porch onto the lawn, I was greeted by a curious looking chameleon sitting on a nearby plant. He didn’t get scared when I moved closer and posed perfectly as I got a quick shot. I was distracted by some movement on the bank and was thrilled to see a large monitor lizard walking out of the water. It felt quite surreal as the reptile moved in search of food unaware of me and looked so elegant in its natural habitat.
A couple of fishermen came by, walking along the bank with a basket net to catch prawns and crabs. While I could not understand them completely, we communicated in sign language. They said they walk down from their village, every morning to catch small prawns and crabs this way before they sail into the lagoon in their fishing boats.
Kid’s Area and the Swimming Pools
After a sumptuous breakfast, we decided to explore the property. The first stop as per my son’s demand was the kid’s play area right outside the restaurant. The weather can get hot very quickly during the day and after a while, we hit the pool.
Arie Lagoon has two swimming pools and the main pool has a kid’s pool and a pool bar. The main pool overlooks a beautiful lawn and the lagoon giving an infinity pool experience.
The immaculately manicured gardens are a sight for sore eyes. The expansive lawns are designed so as to ensure that each room has privacy and a peaceful ambiance. The gardens are also the meeting points for different species of birds and perfect for kids to play around. We could see how hard the staff works to maintain the gardens and the housekeeping staff was always present around.
Restaurant and Food
We dined at the Banana Prawn restaurant which generally serves buffet-style meals. The breakfast consisted of continental as well as Sri Lankan cuisine. Our first experience of Sri Lankan food was great and we found the spiciness just right, very similar to Indian standards of spices. The buffet also had some kid-friendly dishes which is wonderful for families with kids, just like mine.
For lunch, the restaurant was very accommodating to send food to our room as our boy had dozed off early after a busy day in the pool. We tried the Sri Lankan curry rice and the seafood platter and everything was delicious. Special mention to the appetizers which looked like samosas and tasted heavenly.
The resort also has two bars overlooking the lagoon and a pool bar to relax and enjoy. The Crab Claw Bar is just the place to sip some cocktails while enjoying the beautiful sunset as the day winds down.
Our dinner had an extensive spread with quite a lot of non-vegetarian and seafood dishes. The Sri Lankan cuisine was served in traditional clay pots. The Chef mentioned that these clay pots are handcrafted by local village artisans. Cooking food in clay pots is a tradition and has been done for centuries in Sri Lanka giving the food a distinct flavor. I was quite impressed by the large array of desserts. The best way to end a beautiful evening.
Exploring the lagoon
Negombo lagoon is an estuarine lagoon and is fed by some small rivers and the Dutch canal. The lagoon opens into the ocean and has extensive mangrove swamps attracting a lot of water birds and animals. It is also surrounded by villages and has smaller islands within it creating a unique ecosystem. The villages around the lagoon are heavily dependent on it for agriculture and fishing.
The best time for a boat tour of the lagoon is at sunrise or sunset. We were recommended to take the tour at sunrise and the boat picked us up right off the property’s boundary with the lagoon. Since the excursion started quite early in the morning, the hotel team packed us a nice picnic basket.
Our guide gave us a quick overview of the lagoon and how it intertwines with the way of life of people living around it. We met a few fishermen who were just heading out to the sea in their traditional fishing boats and cataraman. The morning sun made a perfect backdrop to the sails of these boats.
As we started approaching the marshy areas, we could see different kind of birds flying around. We were lucky to see Storks, Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Eagles and Kingfishers. You can enter the mangrove areas in some parts which are filled with monkeys and kids love this part of the tour. We were soon joined by another boat and the kids on that boat as well were very excited seeing the monkeys.
On the way back, I lost myself in the calmness of nature. The boat tour was so relaxing that our little one was also mesmerized by the beautiful sunrise. After a quick breakfast, we headed out into the town to check out the churches and the fish market.
Our Final Verdict
Arie Lagoon is a beautiful property by the lagoon with its hospitality at the best. True to its name “Arie” which means superior in Greek, the staff goes over and beyond to make your holiday a superior experience. So if you are looking for a luxury family getaway in Sri Lanka, I would strongly recommend Arie Lagoon, Negombo.
We were hosted by Arie Lagoon, Negombo for a couple of nights and we explored Negombo en route to the cultural triangle in Sri Lanka.