Touring the old world charm and imperial elegance of yesteryear: Mount Lavinia Hotel

SLDF renders the epitome of old world luxury, a magnificient retreat with an intimate trysting place of the iconic heritage hotel focused on the green lavinia concept to a high profile delegation…..

SLDF which kicked off from 11th to 16th Nov 2010 with the participation of eminent personalities from Sri Lanka, USA and Europe, had many agendas to promote local creations along with the idea of positioning Sri Lanka as a global leader in sustainable industry practices particularly in the disciplines of design, fashion and apparel.

As MLH is steeped with heritage, the 13th and 14th of Nov, a few delegates and interested parties participated in the walking tour orchestrated by MLH and assisted by the art historian Mr Asoka De Zoysa who gave an insight of the buildings colourful architecture and indeed the historical journey that has survived the colonial era, and forms today the nucleus of the much loved Mount Lavinia Hotel.

MLH has won the Bronze award 2010 in Earth Accounting by the Earth Check organization for their green program. Earthcheck is used by travel and tourism organizations around the world to confirm their carbon claims and guide their sustainability initiatives, and hereby, benchmarking, and certifying themselves to help the cause that Sri Lanka as a progressive destination when it comes to sustainable practices. Even in the MLH mission statement a green business with ethical practices is their nucleus of their existence:

Hospitality
Experience where
Respect and
Integrity are performed by a
Team that has
Accountability and maintains a
Green
Environment

In an interview, award winning architect, inventor and author from the USA Mr Michael McDonough, spoke of the heritage tour and the experience as a house guest of the hotel and of the tour:

Q : What were your expectations prior to the heritage tour?
A: I was hoping to see the nooks and corners of the Legendary hotel, the fabulous history, and maybe a few secrets to be revealed

Q: What was your general experience?
A: Really fabulous. It blew my mind the fabulous architecture, polished wooden floors and large windows that open wide to let in the soft sea breeze, furnished in colonial style is the epitome of old world luxury, while the hotel maintains the same old world charm of an era of elegance from days gone by. The people who worked in the hotel too showed that their hospitality was also way above the rest as they were proud of what they toiled for. And I could see that the green initiatives taken by the hotel was very evident. Particularly the floral décor for the hotel combined with Bitternut project adopted by the hotel: grown on the river banks of Sri Lanka; Bitternut acts as a natural barrier to soil erosion. These seeds are collected by the communities that live along the river banks and Mount Lavinia Hotel in turn purchases them at the hotel and decorates their guest bathrooms and public area instead of flora as this seedling to sprouts an attractive flower. After the seeds give birth to the plants, they sprout a very attractive plant and hence they are ready for planting. The hotel gives the plants back to the same communities and they plant them along the river banks to protect themselves from floods and soil erosion. The income they gain from this project is used to assist their school going children.

Even the Slow food movement adopted by the hotel which rides on the farm to table motto, offering the freshest organic dishes prepared from local ingredients found within the destination creatively presented, and enjoyed in a casual ambiance. This concept of eco-gastronomy which totally endorses that there is a strong link between plate and planet shows the hotel is concerned about leaving a small environmental footprint while working closely with local growers endorsing the hotel’s commitment to the planet. Slow Food Nights are celebrated every last Sat of the month unfortunately I will not be in the country for the French slow food night next week but I had a taste of the Slow Food a la carte menu in the Governor’s Restaurant.
What impressed me most was their initiative as they have taken with their meetings and conferences. With the growing number of environmentally educated consumers and indeed the expectations are high of both leisure travelers and corporate meeting guests. MLH has developed a Green Meeting Package for conferences and even small and medium meeting sessions . The Going Green experience tends to cover three main points of discussion – conserving energy and resources, recycling and reusing of products, and utilizing local and organic opportunities. The new package has been formatted to touch all three of these key points. It is encouraging to see that MLH has introduced many innovative ways that host communities, team members and guests are being educated about the benefits of treading lightly on the planet.

Q: Would you expect to find a heritage hotel with a vast history, maintained to the old world charm, like this in Sri Lanka?
A: I had no expectations as it was my first trip to Sri Lanka. Yet in one sense to learn of the Mount Lavinia as one of the oldest and most important surviving colonial buildings in Sri Lanka; and it is one of the few remaining buildings that bear a testimony to the legacy left by the British during their period of rule. Also a substantial history covering 200 years and holding a very important place in the historical records and heritage of Sri Lanka, positioned prominently in status along with the two other former Governor’s Residences, the President’s House in Colombo and the Pavilion in Kandy. So I was awed by the distinctive records of the specific periods. And certainly I was not expecting it to be so grand, with an unusually extensive beach frontage, a generous terrace overlooking a stunning panorama of the Colombo skyline which is magnificent for the eye, an incredible atmosphere and it certainly felt as if I was walking into a governor’s palace.

Comments are closed.