Beyond the surf
By Jithendri Gomes
That Arugam Bay has a season to surf is a misconstrued idea long believed by locals and visitors alike. If I am to ask, how many of us Sri Lankans really surf?
We witnessed multiple surfers riding the waves during our visit to the Arugam Bay beach, a 10-minute drive from the property. So maybe the April-October season needs to be revised.
It is also safe to say that once you enter the property, you may not want to leave at all. And well, you don’t have to!
The beautiful premises and its facilities
Although we didn’t have much time to enjoy the facilities, it’s safe to say that if you visit Jetwing Surf, you will have a tough time getting yourself out of the luxurious and cosy cabana.
The design of the hotel is inspired by sea shells and the layout of the 20 cabanas takes the shape of the same. Woven coconut leaves, bamboo, and wood make up the bulk of the construction – to minimise the carbon footprint of the property.
The unique design was awarded the Best Hotel Architectural Design at the Asia Property Awards 2017. The bathroom has both indoor and outdoor showers. A bath under the starry skies will certainly add to your experience. The deck in front is the perfect place to wind down with a book and cup of coffee with the sea breeze blowing through your hair.
The hotel also has a beautiful infinity pool with lily pods overlooking the sea. If you are the sporty and adventurous type, there is a beach volleyball court set up and surf boards and lessons are available on request!
The fantastic food
The Executive Chef at Jetwing Surf is an artist in their truest forms. All the dishes were both equally delicious and pleasing to the eye! The efforts put into presentation must be admired. I must add that he managed to bring out the child in me with his brightly-coloured deserts.
He delivered dishes from all over the world as well as local specialties that were cooked to perfection. The restaurant in itself is situated overlooking the sea, and is both beautiful and peaceful. Under the moonlight, it is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner.
The unforgettable service
What I remember most after a stay is the service as this makes all the difference in the world. Under the guidance of fantastic leadership, the staff at Surf will go out of their way to make your stay memorable. (They even present you with a framed photograph shot during your stay when you leave!) They are friendly, very attentive, and helpful.
The glorious beach
The beach is absolutely glorious. Situated away from the busy Arugam Bay beach, it is almost a private stretch where you can enjoy long walks on the white sandy beach without having to worry about beach boys or excessive crowds.
And if you wish to take a swim, there is an ideal stretch just a two-minute walk away. And for a change, you can also witness a beautiful sunrise from the sea. But what captured my heart was the moonrise with its light reflecting off the waters; truly a sight to see.
The staff at the hotel also mentioned that during the migrating season, dolphins can be spotted from the deck at the restaurant.
The surroundings and available activities
There are multiple surfing points, all a half-hour away from the property. Arugam Bay is the most popular one, but the closest to the hotel is Pottuvil Point, to which you can walk along the beach stretch found in front of the property.
The most memorable experience by far, was the lagoon ride along the Urani River.
The Pottuvil lagoon is a mere stone’s throw from the hotel and boat safaris that are conducted on its shallow waters will let you spot countless species of birds and even crocodiles. At the end of the ride, you may also witness Elephants that frequent the grassy plains, with a beautiful sunset in the backdrop.
If you enjoy safaris and are a wildlife enthusiast, Kumana could be considered a great alternative to the more frequented Yala National Park. The park’s entrance is just an hour’s drive from Jetwing Surf.
During our safari, we were able to see herds of deer, lots of peacocks and elephants, a magnificent tusker, and – the icing on top of the cake – a leopard right across the road coming out to hunt its evening prey!
Both of these excursions can be organised through the hotel itself. We also visited a lesser-known yet equally awe inspiring archaeological site known as Magul Maha Viharaya, situated 15 km away from the hotel.
Folklore believes that this was where King Kavan Tissa married Viharamahadevi, thus the name. And it is the only Sandakada pahana found in Sri Lanka, which showcases a man (ath gouwa) on top of the elephant.
Ties to the community
Every Jetwing property is said to have a connection with the immediate community that surrounds them, and Jetwing Surf has a special one.
Working together with the mosque in the area and through their youth development programme, a majority of the hotel’s staff are trained youth from the community.
To maintain the bonds already formed, the hotel refrains from serving pork, showing respect to the mosque and community, a rare form of allegiance I thought.