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COMING SOON This seven-bedroom boutique hotel on Sri Lanka is the place for a low-key eco-luxury beach break

Eco


Overall eco rating


PREVIEW: review coming soon, but here's what we know based on preliminary research. Ratings are provisional.

The design and construction of Reef Villa and Spa was always mindful of green issues.  Reef opened a couple of years ago - long enough to know that the water and energy saving features are working as intended.  There is still lots to be done though and Reef are making progress in a number of areas prompted by a keen desire to do the right thing.

  • The hotel uses solar thermal panels for the vast majority of the hot water requirement
  • Energy efficient lighting is 99% LED or CFL
  • Apart from owners, all staff are local
  • Have donated container plants to town including to beautify local police station after security measures were removed at the end of the civil war in 2009
  • Ecological pest control includes guppy fish to control mosquitoes and guinea fowl to scare off snakes
  • Tropical gardens, ponds and botanical planting attract a wide variety of butterflies, frogs, birds and other animals
  • Ducks are kept to help maintain the ecosystem of the ponds and hopefully to supply eggs
  • No red meat is served as this is almost all frozen imported meat

  • Only a small number of staff are female although this is a cultural barrier in Sri Lanka
  • No formal verification of green policies – but awaiting verification of eco-credentials from a Travelife audit – an ABTA/EU funded project

People

Although owned by UK Expats, staff at Reef are all local and well looked after with a few perks such as English language lessons and massages to keep staff turnover low.  Links to the community are demonstrated by a growing network of small local suppliers and contributions to town life such as beach cleaning and providing pot plants for public areas.

  • Apart from owners, all staff are local
  • One of the owners has gained TEFL qualification to provide language lessons to staff
  • Staff are well paid and all staff (temporary and full time) have contracts and benefits
  • Have donated container plants to town including to beautify local police station after security measures were removed at the end of the civil war in 2009
  • Work with local suppliers often individuals

  • Only a small number of staff are female although this is a cultural barrier in Sri Lanka

Animals & nature

For a small site on the edge of a town, Reef Villa and Spa has a mini-menagerie meandering around their landscaped grounds.  The animals all contribute to making the property a little greener - guppy fish and guinea fowl make for the best sort of biological pest control and ducks will provide eggs with proven provenence.

Beyond this, Reef attempts to do the right thing in their purchasing but this can be challenging due to the limited range of produce and lack of simple labelling to prove environmental credentials.  Sticking to local suppliers where possible is probably the best bet and this is what Reef do.

PETA assessment of cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries to come.

  • Ecological pest control includes guppy fish to control mosquitoes and guinea fowl to scare off snakes
  • Tropical gardens, ponds and botanical planting attract a wide variety of butterflies, frogs, birds and other animals
  • Ducks are kept to help maintain the ecosystem of the ponds and hopefully to supply eggs
  • No red meat is served as this is almost all frozen imported meat
  • Seek greener seafood and buy some items from a local diver but not always able to know where food items come from
  • Happy to provide off menu dishes which ensures a good variety of vegetarian options

  • Current egg supplier follows good farming practices but hens are not free range – less of an issue if ducks start laying productively
  • Difficult to trace origins of food and limited choice of supply

Environment & buildings

For a small hotel, Reef contribute a good amount of time and resources to green issues.  This is clearly evident in the design and construction of the property with beautiful local craftsmanship using natural, sustainable materials.  The inclusion of solar panels and efforts in the design to minimise air conditioning energy use also demonstrate a well thought out approach to being green.  The links to Greening Sri Lanka and Travelife will provide additional support and help Reef understand further ways to reduce their impacts.

  • The hotel uses solar thermal panels for the vast majority of the hot water requirement
  • Energy efficient lighting is 99% LED or CFL
  • Launder on site and air dry where possible
  • Tall ceilings, ambient cooling from surrounding ponds and careful shading to minimise solar gain all help reduce the air conditioning energy consumption
  • A keycard system also reduces power consumption (including aircon) when guests are not in their rooms
  • Drainage system collects rainwater from roofs, attenuates monsoon flow and reduces run-off and supplies water for ponds
  • Two wells provide water – one is treated and used inside, the other is untreated and used for irrigation
  • The team cleans the beach adjacent to the hotel daily
  • The hotel composts and works with suppliers to take back packaging
  • Seasonal produce is sourced from local suppliers where possible
  • Large amount of reclaimed/renovated items used in construction and fit-out of hotel
  • Build made use of durable, low maintenance, natural Indian/Sri Lankan materials and local craftsmen
  • A member of Greening Sri Lanka which is supporting hotels to reduce energy and water use

  • No formal verification of green policies – but awaiting verification of eco-credentials from a Travelife audit – an ABTA/EU funded project

Reviewed by

Tim Starley-Grainger


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


COMING SOON

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Reef Villa & Spa

78 Samanthara Road, Wadduwa

Sri Lanka
+94 38 228 4442

Standard room rates from US$440

Eco

Luxury*

"The hotel is set back from the beach by a beautifully manicured coconut grove, through which you can stroll to get a glimpse of the fishermen hauling in their catch" Conde Nast Traveller

"The owners scoured India and Sri Lanka for amazing antiques, including 19th-century campaign beds, and each of the seven villas has a fabulous outdoor shower and bath" Newsweek