We just wanted to share this lovely write up from Jo and Tony. It was lovely having you at Udekki again. All the best with the big move, and we hope to see you when you get back to Sri Lanka!
It’s past nine o’clock in the morning, and we’re just waking up from the most deeply peaceful, relaxing sleep in a very long time. A soft sea breeze blows through the light, airy apartment – Loft M, our home-from-home here at Udekki. Because that’s part of the magic…you really do feel completely at ease and at home in this beautiful little oasis of calm tranquillity.
Our thoughts are focussed on a sound beneath our window: the bleating of two goat kids – Ella and Louie – who are briefly tethered under a shady bush nearby, reminding us it’s breakfast time! Having mentioned to Glen, our generous host, that we have a goat farm back in Wales and that since moving to Sri Lanka a couple of years ago we very much miss our caprine friends, I have a feeling this is no mere coincidence.
Staying at Udekki isn’t just supremely relaxing, it is to be made to feel genuinely welcome; indeed, as if you’re visiting very dear friends who know, anticipate and wish to fulfil your every comfort – with the added bonus of being in an absolutely stunning setting right on the gorgeous golden seclusion of Alankuda beach (with a superb pool in case the monsoon sea is a little too rough for swimming).
Having spent many stressful years on tour “living out of a suitcase” himself, host Glen Terry (the internationally-acclaimed Blues musician) knows exactly what world-weary travellers want and need when it comes to the ultimate in relaxation and customer service. And at Udekki, he has hit the nail right on the head. From the moment you arrive (there’s no reception desk; just a jovial “welcome to my home!” from the man himself, as your bags are taken to your room where a refreshing beverage of choice will be served straight away) your every need is catered for, down to the last detail. If you choose to have your meals on your own private terrace, or whilst chilling out in one of the supremely comfortable palm-fringed ambalamas next to the pool, or nestled in one of Udekki’s many comfy “hidey-holes” (dressed as you please; there’s no formal dress code here; and as dining is essentially private you’ve no fear of offending other guests’ delicate sensibilites) that’s just fine; and whatever your tipple the glass will be discreetly refreshed from the lovely staff behind the “Magic Window”.
The whole place is a lesson not only in the fine art of flawless customer service, but also in the mastery of subtle but impressive attention to detail. We spent ages exploring and continually came across secret little spots geared to tranquillity and comfort: tree houses, stilted beach huts with sun decks, hammocks, swing seats; even a boat in the branches of a tree in which to idle away the hours if you so choose. Glen’s artistry is apparent with fascinating sculptures, murals and traditional agricultural implements casually but cleverly dotted around to draw the eye; even the poolside/beachside shower is an extraordinary work of driftwood art. Along with Louie and Ella, a small group of farmyard fowl adds animation to the timeless rustic charm with flowers of every hue tumbling beautifully between the graceful palms.
And the food…ohhhh, the food. If you like seafood you will be in piscine heaven here. Each and every dish, whether fish, meat, vegetables, rice or dessert is simply, exquisitely and elegantly prepared: it is, without doubt, the finest cuisine we have had in Sri Lanka, and we are discerning culinary gluttons. Whilst lazing by the beautiful pool one of our idle fascinations was to watch, as mealtimes approached, an array of colourful local characters staggering down the path with armfuls of sumptuous tropical fruits, vegetables or coconuts; a man in full fishing regalia strides past, rod over his shoulder and coolbox under his arm; fresh and tender cuts of meat and poultry arrive just as the irresistible scent of garlic, onion and ginger frying gently in coconut oil sets our tummies rumbling in an appetite of anticipation.
As dinner approaches Glen anxiously awaits a promised delivery of clams, fresh from the evening tide; we’re not disappointed. As the sun begins to set a vast platter of steaming shellfish appears in a gorgeous garlic and white wine sauce. And then there’s the beautiful buttered lobster, mouthwateringly tender and juicy; plump prawns in an impossibly light, crisp tempura batter; a vast fish steak cooked to perfection and dressed with simple fresh herbs then drizzled with a delicate jus; and a stunning swimmer crab curry, warm spices of pepper, cinnamon and clove making it the perfect summer supper dish. The food just kept coming; I think we counted fifteen dishes that evening including every greedy girl’s sweet heaven of baked bananas and warm, gooey chocolate pud.
Not to mention the superb ambiance: relaxing unobtrusive background music of a variety of genres, candlelight and the dancing flames of oil kettles adding to an air of intimacy around the pool; the warm sea breeze and the clear sky awash with stars as you put your feet up on a mound of comfy cushions…an evening to treasure, especially as we got chatting to Glen and were treated to a superb “unplugged” session from the man himself!
After a supremely refreshing night’s sleep and in need of a lazy lie-in we just about made room for breakfast, which again was an absolute feast of fresh fruit, egg hoppers, a delicious dhal, sambals, kiri hodi, flatbreads and panipol pancakes (a sweet pancake cooked with fresh coconut and kitul treacle) among the traditional Sri Lankan breakfast dishes we were offered. I could go on, but I suggest you come and try it all for yourself if you haven’t upped and packed your bags already!
But Udekki isn’t just about relaxation, or the food, or the ambiance; if you so choose there’s plenty of other things to do. If water sports such as kite surfing, snorkelling, or kayaking and canoeing float your boat (‘scuse the pun), then Udekki’s the place to do it. And between October and March it’s one of the best locations on the island for dolphin and whale watching. Or fancy catching your own supper with a spot of responsible fishing, then barbequing it on the beach whilst enjoying the stunning sunset, sipping a cool G&T? No problem. A little light exercise, perhaps? If you don’t fancy a stroll through the cool shade of the forest that fringes the beach, you could take advantage of the yoga hall. If you thirst to travel further afield to enjoy more of this wonderful island Glen and Carolyn can arrange organised day trips to the diverse and amazing sights in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle; or to the Millennium Elephant Foundation, or to nearby Wilpattu, the island’s largest National Park (which boasts all the richness and diversity of Yala Game Reserve, but advantageously with far less tourist footfall).
Udekki is charming, stylish rusticity at its’ finest. If you want five star grandeur and glamour with sleek, massive flat-screen HDTVs, flawless unimaginatively uniform décor and a private Jacuzzi that could accommodate a cricket team, then Udekki probably isn’t for you. But if you want seven-star, unbeatable service in simply but beautifully and vibrantly furnished surroundings then you will surely find it in this wonderful slice of Serendipity. Udekki is something of an enigma as none of the stock descriptions such as “resort” or “guest house” or “boutique hotel” really fit; it is something of everything and in that spirit of inclusivity you will find your heart beating peacefully to Udekki’s gentle but irresistible rhythm.
I should mention that being an airline pilot, my husband truly values “quality time” without any stress; indeed he is emphatic that nowhere else has ever made him more relaxed and as such he would especially recommend that holidaymakers travelling to or from Sri Lanka make Udekki top of their agenda for a few days, either before or especially after a long flight, in order to fully appreciate all that the island has to offer in a refreshed and rested state of mind. The fact that he arrived after piloting a particularly tiring flight himself and now invariably seeks out Udekki as destination of choice, speaks volumes!
In Welsh, the word “hiraeth” encapsulates that aching longing, that yearning to return to a place you feel truly at home; for our part we cannot wait to return and are already eagerly planning our next visit which we intend to be one of many more in the years to come. We cannot recommend Udekki and the lovely team of people there, highly enough; and hope that you, too, will take the plunge and discover your dream Tropical Paradise on Udekki’s palm-fringed shores.