In Sri Lanka’s deep south, the rustic farming villages round Tissamaharama are divided from the teeming animal and bird life of Yala – Sri Lanka’s oldest and second-largest natural reserve – by a belt of semi-protected jungle running down to the sea. For centuries, people here have farmed small clearings in the jungle called chena, sleeping beside their crops in modest huts to protect them from hungry elephants.
Here today, nestled among dunes and trees at the ocean’s edge, you will find Chena Huts, a Yala Hotel, which is the latest addition to Uga Escapes’ portfolio of luxury boutique hotels. Overlooking a beach where sea-turtles come to lay eggs by moonlight and elephants wander down from the nearby jungle to play in the surf, Chena Huts is fringed on one landward side by the tropical jungle and on the other by a saline lake where ibises, painted storks and even flamingos may be seen, wading in the shallows.
For guests at Chena Huts, easy access to these natural wonders involves no compromise with comfort or good taste. At this small, select property, the ‘huts’ are in fact luxurious detached, private pavilions offering fine views of the surrounding wilderness and seascape. Guests enjoy fine dining at the Basses restaurant and sip cocktails at the Bar -. A swimming pool and other amenities for recreation are available. Yet one need to take only a short walk in any direction to find oneself surrounded by unspoilt nature, and only a short journey to the national park.