Staying at Kithala Resort in Tissamaharama happened on accident. We only discovered it because of its close proximity to Yala National Park, famous for its leopard safaris and dramatic landscapes. But, when greeted at check-in with a sweet welcome drink of fresh cucumber, melon, and muddled mint leaves and a warm moist towel, I knew instantly we had stumbled upon some place special.
Upon stepping onto our balcony, we found an uninhibited view of paddy fields, bathing in the glowing sun, surrounded by green, lush grass and thick waves of trees rolled out in front of us.
The magnolia trees, so fragrant their sweet aroma drifted all the way to our second floor balcony, were my favorite. The brightness of their white flowers emanating a light as though decorated with large Christmas bulbs.
A swimming pool sits in the middle of the hotel's expansive backyard. The trees and hotel walls help to partly shade it. From here, the scent of the magnolias are stronger, as are the bird songs and the heat of the day.
As soon as I saw the pool, I knew I would spend hours there.
We dined on grilled squid and cucumber gazpacho on the restaurant's poolside terrace.
We sipped freshly squeezed, stirred, and shaken watermelon and guava juice. And after sunset, we played cards on the balcony.
Oddly enough, we were madly disappointed with the safari, and yet Kithala Resort remains one of my very favorite parts of my trip to Sri Lanka. Sometimes the largest disappointments have a strange way of turning into the most memorable moments.