Mandara Resort in Mirissa.

Last week on a hotel inspection trip down south we visited the Mandara Resort, a newly opened 20-room beach hotel by the same owners of Rosen Rennaisance in Kataragama. The arrival of the hotel fills a much-needed gap in the market for a quality mid-market hotel on the Galle to Matara stretch of coastline. We were highly impressed and feel it has the chance to be very successful. The location is perfect for a small hotel with a delightful beach front and also an estuary on one side. Note that while the property claims to be in Mirissa it is not on the famous crescent-shaped Mirissa bay, it is located between Weligama and Mirissa.

Nevertheless, the beach is great and this is a fine option all year round (unlike west coast beaches where sea is choppy and brown-coloured between June-October. The rooms have stylish modern finishes with some having private plunge pools. All the mod cons are available – flat-screen TV’s, DVD’s, home theatre system, wireless Internet. The area offers plenty to do other than sun-bathing. A variety of watersports are available at Mirissa Water Sports, including sailing, fishing, river trips, sea-kayaking and snorkeling. The south is also considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting Blue Whales and Spinner Dolphins – best to see them from Jan to April. Prices are very reasonable this year as it is their first season and it is a bargain for the 2009 winter.