Keen doesn’t begin to describe these honeymooning Smiths. So eager are we to get to Amanwella, our romantic retreat in Tangalle, that we’re out of Galle at the crack of dawn, tackling the winding coast road east. As it turns out, we may have been a little too gun-ho, because by the time we pull up under the portico a couple of hours later, our room isn’t ready for us. No jumping straight into bed for this newly-wed couple.
With time to kill, Mr Smith and I take in the breath-taking setting of this tranquil resort, a collection of villas curved around a stretch of palm-fringed private beach. Breathing in the soothing sea air, we recline against over-sized cushions in the lounge area as a ceiling fan gently whirrs overhead. The truth be told, I’m glad for a chance to put my feet up after the twists and turns of the bustling, bumpy roads we’ve just travelled on.
Several cocktails later, we’re led to our room, admiring the plunge pool as we walk down the stairs to our suite. The sound of crashing waves draws us towards an expansive terrace overlooking the deserted beach below. As far as hotel views go, this is one of the best.
Now, I normally don’t go into details about the toilet, but this luxury cubicle’s wooden window shades open to reveal blissful ocean vistas through floor-length glass. His-and-her sinks and a modern stand-alone bath complete the contemporary, open-plan bathroom.
No sooner has the bellboy dropped off our luggage than we’re reaching for our bikini, trunks and sunscreen and heading straight to the beach, a stunning stretch of pale golden sand flanked by coconut trees and a line of sun beds.
After languishing under the powerful afternoon sun for half an hour, I decided to give my mosquito-ravaged limbs a cooling dip. I tap Mr Smith on the shoulder and wake him with a start from his dozed state, gesturing for him to join me for a swim.
Before I’ve taken five steps into the sea, a ferocious wave catches me by surprise, whipping my legs out from under. I struggle to my feet in time to catch a glimpse of Mr Smith’s horrified face as his new wife disappears again, pummeled by another punishing wall of salt water.
Finally regaining my footing, bikini top askew and with what feels like a bucket-load of sand weighing down my bikini bottoms, I take stock and realise that the only things lost are a pair of designer sunglasses (they were old anyway), a cheap plastic bracelet and my dignity. I gingerly tip-toe my way back to the sun-beds, where we collapse in fits of laughter.
Donning mask and snorkel, the hotel’s lifeguard begins to dive in vain for the lost sunglasses, but I’ve already relegated them to the depths of the Indian Ocean – a fashion sacrifice for a hilarious story to entertain family and friends with when we get home.
After washing what feels like five kilograms of sand from my bikini and body back at the villa, Mr Smith and I fix ourselves a drink from the minibar and settle onto the day-bed on the balcony to watch the sun slip towards the horizon.
As a honeymoon treat, Mr Smith has made special arrangements for our dinner. All dolled up in a sundress and sandals, I’m puzzled as we retrace our steps, toward the beach, though this time the path is lit by lanterns. Instead of heading to the beach club restaurant, Mr Smith guides me towards a solitary cloth-draped table beneath a palm tree, where we dine on barbecued seafood by candlelight. Top marks, Mr Smith.
When it comes to turn-down treats, the staff at Amanwella take the cake – sitting on our oversized bed when we return from dinner are two handmade straw hats, a godsend for someone who’s just lost her sunglasses.
Slightly sunburnt and exhausted after a day of travelling and a good old-fashioned beach dumping, we collaps into bed and are lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean, just a few metres below our window.
Whoever designed the rooms here must have been a morning person, because at first light we’re stirring as the sunlight pours through the shutters, making it impossible to sleep beyond 6am. Well, when you’re staying in paradise, you want to make the most of every moment, right? (At least, this is the argument I make to a very grumpy Mr Smith.)
Donning my new straw hat, we make our way to breakfast – a relaxed, à la carte affair overlooking the pool, where we feasted on fresh fruit and a deliciously spicy Sri Lankan omelette.
With yesterday’s dumping still fresh in our minds, we opt for the safety of sun loungers by the hotel pool, which offers soothing views of the beach and the odd local fishing boat. While Mr Smith worships the sun throughout the afternoon, I decide to give my skin a rest and head for the day spa instead. The five-minute uphill walk to the spa villas serves as my exercise for the day, rewarding my exertion with a treatment from a skilled Balinese masseuse.
Floating back to the villa post-massage, it’s tempting to order room service and call for an early night, but on good recommendation we venture out for dinner at nearby boutique guesthouse the Last House. Throughout Sri Lanka we’ve been impressed with the cuisine, particularly the local curries, but nothing compares to the three-course feast we’re fed at the Last House. We start with a chilled aubergine soup, followed by a gigantic king prawn the size of our dinner plate (with just enough room for salad on the side), before finishing with fresh mango and a banana and chocolate dessert.
As is the way with most great escapes, this getaway is over far too soon. And as our car pulls away from the resort, I reflect that although I’ve lost a pair of sunglasses, I’ve gained an unexpected beach exfoliation, a new straw hat, a golden tan, a luxurious hotel experience and perhaps a few extra kilograms.