Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Anna, and without seeming too bold, I must confess that I am a person with a multitude of pursuits: I’m an entrepreneur, a traveler, a polyglot (I speak 8 foreign languages!), a decorator and a textile editor – I create collections of fabrics for interior spaces.
The famous Russian philosopher, scholar and priest Pavel Florensky once said that art is an activity of the organization of space. I feel this is what I do in various places in the world.
However, for my husband and myself, our most beloved space is our villa by the ocean in Sri Lanka!
The first time I came to Sri Lanka was in 1991, when I was still a student of foreign language in St. Petersburg. In Russia, perestroika was under way, and in order to earn money for my studies, I began working for a Dutch flower company. I first came to Colombo for the World Exhibition with my “flower” colleagues. After the damp and grey of St. Petersburg, it was strange and quite surprising to immediately feel at home in this warm and vibrant tropical world. The feeling was forever burned into my memory…
After my trip, life went on as usual. I embarked on various projects, living and working abroad. I had the opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia, exploring the world and developing as an person. Nevertheless, in the back of my mind, Sri Lanka was always calling me back and eventually, I joyfully returned.
Eraeliya began as a single house with a hundred years of history – Villa Walauwa. The reconstruction was very carefully completed in order to preserve the spirit of the building, its tranquility, coolness and silence. Almost everything here remains as it was, including the elements of colonial architecture, the arrangement of rooms, the enormous trees.
There were only two bedrooms in the original layout of Walauwa, but I wanted to share my home with the many friends I had from around the world. So, I decided to build a second dwelling, Muhudu Bella, which translates to “seashell.” The name choice was no accident, as Muhudu Bella is designed in the shape of a spiral. My inspiration to create such a home was the traditional Sinhalese earthen huts built by the native people of Sri Lanka.
As a professional decorator, I was interested in the distinct and varied architecture of Ceylon. The colonial buildings are of different eras. There are Buddhist pagodas and stupas on the island, as well as the traditional village houses.
A huge discovery for me was Geoffrey Bawa, one of the greatest architects in Asia. His work focuses on the symbiosis between nature and architecture as when the garden, water and sunlight enter into a living space. His principles turned out to be very close to my own aesthetics. I decided to organize the space of Eraeliya, based on the simple yet sublime magic Bawa executed at his estate, Lunuganga. I listened to the voice of nature, taking into account the distinctive landscape and lighting, and managed to keep all the mature trees on the property intact.
Ultimately, three more houses were constructed amongst the gardens.
Villa Bawana is my vision of the perfect home on the ocean. Every element was thought out with love and attention to the peculiarities of the local climate: from the hugely deep pool to the vaulted nine-meter ceilings. Vintage Portuguese tiles, teak and mahogany wood, antique furniture and massive doors give the villa a genuine colonial feeling.
Further on the property, conceived as a small piece of Bali in Sri Lanka, there is another magical space – Ambalama Pavilion. To adorn Ambalama, I found grand old doors and columns amongst local antique ruins. I replaced the walls of the pavilion with massive glass panels. Thus, an air-conditioned villa with an open-air bathroom, vaulted ceilings and a huge Hemingway style writing desk was born.
In the end, when these 5 spaces, conceived as a whole, were finally completed, we opened up as a boutique hotel.
Our venture was successful. We received positive reviews in the Telegraph, Insight Guides, and National Geographic. Lonely Planet called Eraeliya the best place in Weligama. You can view our press page to find out more.
However, for us, the number of loyal guests who continue to return here, as if coming home, speaks of the hotel better than any review in a guidebook.
After several years of operating as a successful luxury boutique hotel, we decided to return to our original plan. The fact is that I have always seen Eraeliya as a villa. It’s a space that unites people. It serves as a place for meetings and socialising, celebrations, weddings, various retreats, co-working and surf camps.
We welcome you to come experience our villa for yourself!
Our magical space, now transitioned into a luxury villa, retains the expertise and richness of our boutique hotel, accumulated over four years of harmonious work by our friendly team. During this time, we have acquired all the necessary professional skills that allow us to fulfill any desire of our guests.
The villa team is always open to new ideas and is ready to grow with you!
Eraeliya Garden Villa
299 Kapparatota Road
Mobile: +94 77 6 137 527 (Whatsapp)