By Jennifer Rodrigo
The city of Colombo, even with its charms and activity, can feel crowded and monotonous sometimes. But I woke up one Saturday morning in a plush and cosy room, snuggled in freshly laundered, crisp white sheets, with a bird’s-eye view of a teal blue Indian Ocean and the beautiful Colombo skyline available to me with just a sweep of my fingers drawing the curtains. I was in heaven. More specifically, I was on the 13th floor in an ocean view three-bedroom suite at Platinum One Suites, Colombo 3.
One of Sri Lanka’s premier five-star accommodations, Platinum One Suites is located on the corner of Bagatalle Road. The 40 expansive spaces – inclusive of both three-bedroom and four-bedroom accommodation – are what I would call sophisticated comfort.
Checking in Friday afternoon, I was greeted, despite the country’s tumultuous times, with warm smiles and friendly faces (after thorough security checks of my luggage, of course) at the reception of the apartment hotel. An apartment hotel or aparthotel is essentially a serviced apartment complex that functions with a hotel-style booking system.
“People have a tendency to consider apart hotels inaccessible to the public or as only for residents,” shared Platinum One Suites Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Amarasinghe. “We have numerous facilities and amenities that can be enjoyed by outside guests as well – for instance, our restaurant, bar, coffee shop, spa, meeting facilities, etc. The only thing that’s different in our property from a five-star hotel is that the accommodation units are serviced apartments and not singular rooms.”
And who can complain about the following? Dark bronze curtains that, when drawn, give you an almost addictive view of the sea beyond and city below, a clean white sofa in front of a huge-screened TV with cable channels, a fully-equipped kitchen with everything a modern guest would need (refrigerator, stove, microwave, oven, tea/coffee making facilities, etc.), tastefully chosen art on the walls, and a choice between three or four bedrooms per suite, each with its own unique style – all within a setting of a beautiful interior of mostly white tones. There’s a television in the master bedroom as well, and each apartment comes with an automatic washing machine and dryer.
Manager on Duty Thamith, who impressed me with his keen “360 experience” of managing an aparthotel of this nature, was kind enough to take me on a tour. Refined luxury, privacy, and elegance were all words that kept resonating in my mind as the tour progressed across the five categories of suites on offer: Superior City View Three-Bedroom Suite, Deluxe City View Three-Bedroom Suite, Premium City View Three-Bedroom Suite, Ocean View Three-Bedroom Suite, and Ocean Premier Four-Bedroom Suite. Each suite had its own distinctive essence and it was evident careful consideration had been given to maintain ease of use and homeyness when it came to simple mechanisms inside (e.g. the electrical equipment).
The fourth floor houses the lounge and bar, main restaurant, swimming pool, a sun deck, and gymnasium. A spa is soon to be opened, I was told. There is also a meeting room for business meetings or intimate gatherings with a capacity to accommodate up to 35 pax. The ground floor has retail outlets and once you step out, you’re in the thick of shopping malls and entertainment hubs Colombo has to offer.
“The biggest challenge at the moment is undoubtedly the loss that the industry is experiencing, not only pertaining to tourists, but the loss concerning staff, travel operators, and vendors as well,” said Amarasinghe, who confessed that if the country’s situation does not improve, their own people could face job insecurities, losses, and financial problems. “Some staff rely vastly on service charge, mainly to pay off loans or support the needs of their family.”
Continuing his concern, he shared: “All hoteliers are highly concerned as to what effective solutions will be put in place to uplift the country from the current state we are in. Of course, this will be something all Sri Lankans will have to contribute towards as leaders, as hoteliers, and even as civilians.”
Amarasinghe commenced his career in hospitality almost 20 years ago at the then Intercontinental Colombo. When asked what he loves most about his profession, he shared that the hospitality industry has built him into the person he is today. “I have learned and gained so much from this industry, both professionally and personally, and the journey has certainly been exceptional.”
Attention to detail
Even though dragging myself from the suite with in-room dining as an option (which I tried and enjoyed thoroughly) was an effort, seated amidst the breeze by the poolside dining area with a beautiful view of the city and a delicious spaghetti dish and cold beverage in front of me, I was all smiles.
With similar establishments in full view during our dinner, I asked Amarasinghe what sets them apart from the rest. “One is the sizes of our apartment-suites; they are comparatively more spacious than any other serviced apartment in Colombo; some of our suites are about three times the space, something that has been highly appreciated by our guests who have also lined this feature with value for money.”
Personalised guest experience seemed to be in the forefront of their priorities as an establishment, and this is affirmed by their auxiliary services such as grocery delivery, personalised cuisine or beverages, and daily housekeeping that can be carried out at a time convenient to the guests.
“Our immediate plan is to establish the ‘Platinum One Suites’ brand among the local community as a prominent hospitality provider in Sri Lanka,” shared Amarasinghe, adding that they also have plans to branch out to other regions of the country.
“Hospitality is about working with people, for people,” noted Amarasinghe. “Speak to guests, colleagues, and your superiors, in the same manner, you would want them to speak to you. Try to understand their questions and needs, and proactively offer your assistance,” he advised people looking to enter the industry.
“Many of those who join the industry do so on the initial assumption that working in a hotel gives you an instant plush lifestyle – they see staff in suits, they see the hotel environment and assume that staff receive similar benefits as guests; they paint themselves a very easy and superior picture about working in a hotel. The truth is, it’s not easy. Nor is it laid out for you. But it’s guaranteed to build you into a better person.”
Working in this industry, shared Amarasinghe, means you have to think smart and not always go by the books. “As a hotelier, there are two aspects that I personally consider as rewards: getting recognised by your colleagues and superiors, but more importantly, getting recognised by guests – when a guest remembers you by name, you know you are doing your job well, and there’s no better reward than that.”
Address: 1, Bagatalle Rd, Colombo 3
Phone: 011 7570000