Singapore based Calamander Group increases initial investment to 1.35 Billion LKR
Unawatuna Beach Resort (fondly known by Sri Lankans as UBR), one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most popular beach resorts, was re-launched as Calamander Unawatuna Beach at a gala event held today. The Singapore-based Calamander Group, who bought the hotel in October 2011 for close to one billion LKR, has since completely rebuilt the entire set of original buildings, infrastructure, and restaurant; investing a further 350 million LKR in the redevelopment.
Established over 30 years ago, UBR has been rebranded as the Calamander Unawatuna Beach. The new UBR maintains the relaxed character of the old, the excellent service from long standing staff, the good food and al-fresco dining; whilst dramatically improving the quality of the rooms and facilities to four star class. The refurbishment delivers high quality rooms in a contemporary design, with an emphasis on natural light, great bathrooms, five star quality beds and furniture, high-spec connectivity and entertainment systems, and leading branded fixtures and fittings, all at four star prices.
Elaborating further Roman Scott, Chairman and founder of The Calamander Group said, “The new Calamander Unawatuna Beach maintains a key role in promoting and developing Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, and reaching the 2016 target of 2 million arrivals. For more than forty years, Unawatuna beach and UBR have been hugely popular with the North European market, in particular Germany. The hotel hosts an extraordinary one in ten of all German visitors to Sri Lanka, who proceed to spend over one billion LKR during their two week average stay on the island.”
“Holland, the UK, and Scandinavia tourists are the hotels’ next largest customer base. Most customers are repeat, with a large number loyal to UBR for over a decade. These customers demand higher standards today and no longer just want a nice beach with a mediocre room. Thailand has raised the competitive standards for mid priced hotels in the last decade, and we have set out to lift UBR to match or beat them, and keep our German and other traditional North European markets with us in Sri Lanka, staying at the new UBR” said Mr. Scott.
He further added “We are very optimistic about this venture and look forward to continuing to improve the property and its facilities, and introduce more innovations. Our proposition is to provide 5 star standards at a 4 star price-what I call Affordable Luxury, at the USD 100-150 range, not the USD 200-250 range at five star hotels. Our mantra is ‘everything you need, and nothing you don’t’, so our room standards are very high, the sizes are decent but not huge, and this provides quality at a reasonable cost. We have invested heavily in the public areas, especially the beachside dining facilities, the new bar, and water sports, as this is what our customers come to us for. The focus of the hotel is, and has always been, on the outside environment: the beach, the sea, marine activities, the relaxed atmosphere, and the food; in a seafront, ‘al-fresco’ setting. I want to lead the market in these areas”.
The hotel’s rebuilt restaurant offers the island’s largest and most beautiful al-fresco dining facilities that can cater for over 250 pax, under a dramatic 40 foot span solid timber roof. Melt Bistro offers a wide range of cuisine, with live cooking stations for its Italian Pasta, Sri Lankan food, flambé desserts and fruit, and the island’s first Ramen noodles bar. Brix Pizzeria offers real Italian style (thin crust) pizza, and does a thriving takeaway trade. U-bar, the hotel’s bar, has moved into its own premises on the beachside with an expanded range of beers and cocktails, and weekend live music. “F&B is an important business for us”, said Mr. Scott, “and we offer the same concept of affordable luxury, with bistro style, hearty and tasty fare at reasonable prices”. The Group owns the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf franchise in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and has plans to expand further into other F&B concepts in Sri Lanka.
The Calamander Group is primarily a real estate developer and used to turning around older properties, as it is their core business in Singapore. Calamander’s signature design is minimalist, with an emphasis on natural light, using top quality materials, branded fittings, and lots of glass and timber. For UBR, floor to ceiling glass windows make the rooms transparent, and extend into glass and timber balconies. The colour palette is powder white, accented by chocolate stained solid mahogany furniture to an exclusive design, whilst acid orange provides a lift and conveys the brand identity throughout the all-white public areas and facilities. Because of the outdoor focus, the restaurant and public areas feature Ohmm outdoor furniture, one of the world’s best, and a lot of reclaimed timber decking and marine artefacts. Two ancient fishing boats grace the restaurant, and the modern space is dotted with a fine collection of architectural antiques. The rebuild has also taken the hotel to international standards in health and safety, and disabled access. “This is an important area for us” added Mr. Scott, “we are now compliant on all key areas including fire and balconies, and we are aiming for a Grade A kitchen hygiene award next year”.
Standard amenities in all rooms include a double bed with 5 star quality mattresses, free Wi-Fi, a 32 inch flat screen TV, satellite channels with international news, sports and movies, Hans Grohe showers, top quality bath ware, a balcony, new aircon, mahogany furniture, a glass fronted mini-bar, hairdryer, kettle, slippers, and complimentary tea, coffee and bottled water. Super Deluxes are slightly larger than a Deluxe and include a Bravat bathtub. The large Luxury rooms include a spa bath and have a sea view. The hotel comprises 85 keys: 55 Deluxe rooms of 25 sqm, 8 Super-Deluxes of 30 sqm, and 22 Luxury rooms of 45 sqm. The resort now offers free for customers sea kayaks, body boards and stand-up surf boards, and on land beach volleyball, table tennis, badminton, boules, yoga classes, a gym, and board games. Diving, whale watching and sailing are offered at a charge, and wellness is provided at the Footrub centre.
Calamander Unawatuna Beach Resort is located directly on Unawatuna Beach, the island’s finest, and now only 1.5 hours from Colombo on the Southern Highway. The romantic palm fringed bay, famed for its golden sand, year round swimming, and a hassle free laid back atmosphere, is indeed paradise, and continues to provide one of the most spectacular settings in the world for picture perfect sunsets.