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“Not suitable for honeymoon!”

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AVANI Kalutara Resort
Ranked #4 of 11 Hotels in Kalutara
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 29 July 2010

Kani Lanka Resort and Spa

First impressions of this hotel were aesthetically very pleasing but our illusions over the duration of our stay were soon shattered. We booked a multi centre trip with Kuoni visiting the Maldives before it. We stayed in Biyadhoo, classed as a 3 star and far superior in every respect than the Kani Lanka which is given a 4 star rating. This 4 star rating is a joke - 2 star more like, 3 star would be generous. We based our decision to stay in both hotels from the reviews on Trip Advisor. We were bitterly disappointed with our stay in Kani Lanka and consider ourselves blessed we did not chose this hotel for 2 weeks as we would have requested an early flight home.


Rooms:
We booked a superior room, which is basically just a standard room with more floor space and no further special treatment. Suites were like gold dust and even if you book and pay for one you are not guaranteed to get one. The safe should be bolted to the concrete floor but is instead bolted to wood in the wardrobe which can be easily removed. If you go on a trip, your empty room is highlighted by all the tape the accommodation staff put on the door.

Damp Problems
The room was consistently damp and smelt of damp/ammonia, so did the sheets. We had to put our clean handtowels on the pillows at night! The towels were threadbare, off colour with marks still on them after washing. Clothes could not be hung in the wardrobe because of damp problems and were constantly kept under lock and key in our luggage. The bathroom was unfinished and very poorly lit. The shower and sink area were not tiled or properly sealed. Water leaked everywhere. There was no ventilation (natural or artificial) in the bathroom which contributed to the problem of damp. In addition the doors to the terrace did not interlock with each other sufficiently; there was a 1cm gap which allowed outside weather conditions, mosquitoes and other bugs into the room. As a result we kept the curtains shut. The stone floor was also wet because of damp issues. During our stay the ceiling in the corridor where the rooms commence with "2" collapsed.

Air Conditioning
We were warned on arrival to leave it consistently on "cool". However it is not adequate in dealing with the damp problem in the room caused by the room not being properly secured from outside elements and bathroom conditions. A tip shared from fellow hotel guests) was to change the setting to "dry". If you go on overnight trips the staff will turn it off which totally defeats the purpose and exacerbates the problem on your return.

Pool Area
There are allegedly two pools, but one is only a paddling pool for small children. The pool is not big enough for the hotel. As the hotel is branded a "resort and spa", I was surprised to find boisterous games of water polo and volley ball played in the pool. Forget having some peace, quiet and relaxation there, it is far too noisy and you will get splashed, have your drink toppled or any snacks spoiled. As for the sun loungers/ sun beds, there is not enough, these are very badly maintained and some are broken or will collapse under you (and no I am not obese or even close). It is only a matter of time before someone injures themselves on one. The towels supplied are badly worn and also threadbare and in desperate need of replacement and the mats supplied don't offer much in terms of comfort or support.

Beach Area
You cannot swim in the sea in Kalutara for most of the year and you will be sadly disappointed if you come here to do so. The red flag was constantly present. The rep recommended going no further than waist deep but even if you are up to your ankles you are likely to be knocked over by the strong waves and undercurrent or knocked out by items carried in the surf. A guest died here at early this year so be very careful. The beach is filthy and uncared for. It is littered with weeds, bottles, glass and has other waste and debris washed ashore; do not walk in your bare feet. It is not a place you would want to spend much time on anyway as this is where the "beach boys" hang out and the minute you step out there you are prey for their peddling of trips. Do not attempt to go for a moonlight stroll as it is far too dangerous.

Beach Boys
These are simply nothing more than a nuisance. They watch your every move from the fence which separates the hotel grounds from the beach. Some staff are in collusion with them and will highlight the new guests for them so they can pester you with promises of dream excursions and trips. They constantly shout at you from over the fence and try to catch your attention. Do not take their business card as this is "deemed ownership" of you on their part for you to book your trips through. Keep away from Jambo Lanka chief con artist and bully boy (we were forewarned before our arrival and saw him in action so were spared)! In short they are not your friends and are more interested in your wallet!!!

We booked all our excursions through Kuoni. It may be slightly more expensive, but the more people that go, the less expensive it becomes as the main outlay are the transportation costs. It is well worth it for piece of mind and insurance purposes and you actually get what you pay for. The beach boys are not adequately insured versus the likes of a big reputable company such as Kuoni/Neckermann etc. If something happens you have no comeback with beach boys. Think very carefully before putting your precious wallet, life, enjoyment, time and trip in jeopardy.

Food
We took the all inclusive option. We thought the food was mediocre, buffet style (salads, hot dishes, bread, dessert) and some stomach upset was suffered. A lot of the hot dishes are the same but have different ingredients, i.e. chicken/ lentils/ beef / fish curry type dishes and this is repeated day after day with vegetables and rice. Most of the chicken dishes were poor cuts and served with bones - what is the purpose in serving bones to guests????? Fruit was always over-ripe. If all inclusive, only one brand of beer is allowed and the wine is appalling. Cocktails are limited and you are not allowed "diet" drinks. You have to pay extra if you wish to eat "a-la-carte" or enjoy a fish supper or even a good bottle of wine (the latter two were really pushed by staff). £50 in my estimation was a bit steep so we avoided. Avoid rushing up to dinner when the restaurant opens in the evening as there is a stampede and it is not one bit civilised. I would advise guests considering staying here on HB, FB to go for the all inclusive option as it will work out cheaper in the long run and there is no alternative within the vicinity of the hotel (with the exception of the Red Lobster which we did not frequent).

Staff
This hotel is badly managed and it is quite evident in most of the staff and their attitudes. If you have a complaint with anything in these premises it falls on deaf ears, lack of assistance with anything was frustrating. This was quite evident with the rep and you could see how little influence he even had with management with room change requests. You should take a look at the staff training manual in the tour operator area (if it is still there) where names have been attributed to guests "Screaming Sue, Freebie Fiona" etc - solution = empathise but do nothing - as you can see you don't have a hope. If all inclusive you are made wear a band. There is no incentive for the staff to be nice or give proper service because if you are all inclusive you don't tend to carry your wallet around with you, hence no tips. Many times we were left waiting in favour of other guests.

Sri Lanka experience in general;
The Kani Lanka was the first ambassador to us of the country we were not impressed. The country is promoting 2011 as their year for tourism and it has a lot to do to entice tourists to return, we for one have had our day and will never come back. It is an extremely poor country and the government is very corrupt, evidence of which is that the devastation of the tsunami is highly prevalent, nearly 6 years on and nothing has been done. Aid given to the country has been blatantly squandered. Building projects completed by charitable donations from abroad to support communities after the tsunami are now closed and left derelict. The transportation system and infrastructure is like something from the start of the 19th century. Driving methods are lethal. Most of the Sri Lankan people are warm, friendly and smiling, the children are simply beautiful. However you are merely viewed as a $ sign and not a fellow human being. These people really have nothing. The rich are getting richer and the poor are remaining poor. We too gave a considerable amount of money away. It was really shocking. Wake up Sri Lankan government, your people need you.

Places worth visiting and costs:

Tuk tuk to Kalutara = 600 rps (warning if you go into the temple you will be charged 3,000 rps)
Tuk tuk to Kalutara train station = 500 rps (each way)
Train to Galle = 175 rps (each way)
Tuk tuk hire in Galle 90 rps per km
Taxi to Galle 6,000 rps (this continues with you throughout your sightseeing efforts and may work out better in the long run)
Overnight trip to Kandy to see Temple of Tooth and dancers/ Sirigira / Pinnawela (elephant orphanage) £130
Half day trip - River Excursion, cinnamon / carpet weaving & rope making from Coconut/Turtle Hatchery £25

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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6  Thank Resident1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 July 2010

Where do I start on Kani Lanka firstly as a hotel & secondly on Sri Lanka’s west coast as a holiday destination?

The Hotel
I want to try to be balanced in my review. Sri Lanka is a disadvantaged & poor country so it is hard to compare it with other Asian destinations I’ve been to, however my expectation when a major European travel brand says 4* is that it means 4* (Very Good), not 5* (Excellent) & not 3*(Average). The Kani Lanka is 3* at best but probably in some areas 2*(Basic). Small rooms, aircon not working in all rooms (we had to move twice), mini-bar in one room icy cold, in another, not working. The problem is a total lack of consistency. Our first room (101) right next to the lobby where nightly from 7.30pm – 11.30pm local bands massacre everything from Obla-de-obla-da to Winds of Change. DO NOT ACCEPT 101 – 106 if you intend sleeping before 11.30pm. It is like having the band in your room, at the foot of your bed.... nightmare! Second room (223) quiet but as damp as a damp thing! Aircon blowing out tepid/humid air adding to the humidity, we moved because our clothes were actually wet! Day after we did, the ceiling outside our room collapsed. Finally room 425, quiet, aircon worked a treat, shame about the mini bar (room temperature drinks). I can assure you I have no desire to move rooms twice when on holiday, it is a major hassle, but I came on holiday for some R&R, that in my book occasionally involves sleep.

The food was average buffet style (I cannot believe anyone that says it is good/excellent). The brochure claims 2 restaurants but only 1 (Palms) was ever open. We took all inclusive due to remote location. I would advise to do so, because half-boarders got the same fare but would have had to pay for lunch and drinks on top. For the extra cost it is a no brainer.

The Pool
Not bad as it goes, except...
Sunbeds falling to pieces, wheels drop off & the back supports are often broken so you are either flat on your back or sat upright rather than in a relaxed book reading position. Pads are wafer thin so you really feel the slats beneath you, towels are threadbare & many of the umbrellas are torn & worn through (is this sounding 4* to you?). Lots of fun & games though! If you want to play water polo & volleyball, then this is indeed the place for you. If you want peace, relaxation & not being splashed, hit by the ball & having your drink knocked over by loud Germans & guys with Bulldog tattoo’s on their calf’s then maybe it’s not.

Other
Beach boys are not as “fantastic” as some claim (they are in fact an annoying bunch of con-men). But I guess it takes all sorts, so if you like to be shown round meaningless locations where the object is for the beach boys to extract a commission & to end up with them trying to book you into a doss-house instead of the lovely hotel they show you in their pre-prepared picture, go ahead. Otherwise, I advise organising your own sightseeing having read a reputable travel guide, it will save you £££’s & give you back hours of your life otherwise wasted, I know having made the aforementioned mistake (don’t believe all you read, including this I guess if you apply logic).

Kalutara is noisy, dirty & smelly. The people are nice when not begging from you (I mean this, even though it sounds sarcastic). The people around here have nothing, I mean nothing! The corruption in Government means the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami is still painfully evident. My heart went out to them, but I have to be really honest, I don’t come on holiday to be a charity, I just want sun, food, drink & relaxation. We ended up giving away money, buying books, crayons, sweets etc as we felt so sorry for the genuinely beautiful, smiling, happy & very grateful children of the local village. Just be aware of what you are heading into...

Galle worth a visit, elephants at MEF and Orphanage good

Summary
Each to their own, but I can assure you, this is never a 4* resort. We took it on a deal (however we thought we were getting a “holiday that was cheap” not “a cheap holiday”). The facts in my opinion are....
(1) Good location
(2) Disappointing rooms
(3) Average food
(4) Noisy / touristy / laddish pool
(5) Uninterested management
(6) Dirty local town
(7) Warm friendly people

In the hotel I would do...
(a) Boat trip for at least 1hr on lagoon and Black River
(b) Spa (it’s not great as a spa, but the Balinese girls are very good especially back and neck massage)

Before giving this review the thumbs down (always someone that has already booked and is unhappy at the thought of negatives) read my other reviews, I am usually lucky in my holidays. This was just average.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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5  Thank FergusPatterson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2010

Visited this hotel just for a spend a day as I was on my way back home after a 2 day stay in a different hotel. Customer service should be improved a bit more. Rooms were very clean & well maintained. Had a basic swimming pool.Beach was very rough, so no sea baths :-( Food was also good & had a good vareity of sea food. Could not visit the Spa due to lack of time. Will deffineately visit again for a longer stay.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Crishan1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2010

We had a great time at the Kani Lanka. I could not believe some of the reviews when I had read them before we travelled, I was really worried at one point but after we had arrived my mind was put at ease. It was fab!
The staff were excellent, the food you just couldnt complain about and the Tours expecially Kandy and the Elephants were the real higlight of the trip and just being able to see the Yala Safari park, stick fishermen and so much more was a treat! All arranged by Jambo our little shining star!
If you need any help then check him out on face book 'Jambo Lanka' it was the best thing my partner and I did. No hassle from any of the other beach boys once they new we had our tours sorted in fact they were nothing but friendly.... I think the reviewers moaning about the beach boys etc... forget they are in a Third World Country and at the end of the day its just people trying to make a living.
I cant wait to go back to Sri Lanka, the people were great and we loved the hotel, staff and even though the location was quiet and the weather was not great we met some great people who made it one of the best holidays we have had! Rock on Buddy Love, One of the maddest people I have ever met & the lovely Sarah, Colin & Linsey

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank Cunnykat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 July 2010

We stayed at the kani Lanka from the 3rd to the 17th of July 2010. We had a wonderful holiday. We stayed in a Junior suite room 428 and i would say it was well worth the little extra we paid ,we had two balconies one over looked the lagoon the other the sea, what more could you ask for. The food was to an high standard and a good choice for everyone. The pool is lovely and clean and the pool boys are really friendly. Tipping is required in these countries so we tipped at the beginning of the holiday and then again at the end. We never felt pressured to tip we did it for good service and thats what we got. Most staff are really friendly and helpful.The weather was mixed we had a alot of cloud most days but still got sun tanned so make sure you wear sun cream when its cloudy. We had a lot of rain during the nights and some evenings. We had a few days were we had short sharp down pours during the day. I would recommend this hotels for couples not really for families because not a lot to do. The evening entertainment was mixed some nights poor other nights really good. Friday nights band is excellent for british guests with an array of music from various artist.
We were a party of six people but met some lovely people in the hotel because the hotel only has 109 rooms its quit a friendly hotel. I would like to say hello to Buddy and Sarah, Brian and Ann, Jackie and Pete and Terry and Glenis all couples we met while on holiday here.I agree with the previous review that you dont go to Sri Lanka and expect the same holiday you get in Europe. Its more of a cultural holiday seeing how they live,their beliefs and respecting them and their country like they respect you. People that constantly moan about everything should stay in a 5 star hotel in BRITAIN and pay 5 star british prices. Before you book research the country the traditions and customs and lower your expectations that way you will be really over the moon with your holiday.We went on a three day tour with JAMBO we contacted him through facebook before we went. Our tour was fantastic we had a driver called Harmantha ( Hairman for short) and a guide called Guiyan they were both excellent. They tailored our trip to suit us. Their knowledge of the country was excellent please ask for these when you book your trip with Jambo you wont be disappointed. We did all the attractions and more and to be honest our tour made our whole holiday. I cant express enough how good these boys are we paid for our trip and gave a good tip because we felt we had excellent value for money.We went to Jambos father inlaws restaurant called Jacksons for evening meal with drinks music and fireworks and had the best sea food we had ever had. Fantastic experience that gave you a taste of real Sri Lanka. Simply the best sums it up for us.When you go on these trips take a couple of thousand rupees in 100 rupee notes for tips. 100 rupees is about 85p and they are very appreciative of that amount if you feel you want to tip good service. Remember Sri Lanka is a very poor country with no state help so no work means no food for many Sri Lankan people, so a small tip goes a long way. Some Highlight of our tour for me were the Elephant ride , feeding the elephants, bathing the elephants actually having a go at stick fishing seeing the tsunami monument and the a Turtles. I really cant express enough how fab our trip was with Jambo, how hard Jambo,Guiyan and Harmantha worked to make our trip perfect. Please dont listen to negative reviews go to this country with an open mind and i promise you will come back with memories you will never forget.This hotel has a turn down service every night with flowers put on your bed for that extra special touch. Remember Jambo is the man to contact for a great tour of Sri Lanka with that exta special personnel touch. We found that the beach boys were not a problem at all. When they approached us we just said we had our trips sorted with Jambo and we were not asked again. We just spoke to them pleasently when they spoke to us and that was it. Dont be put off by the negative reviews because before we went we were really worried about what we had read only to find we had nothing to worrie about.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank wharmby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about AVANI Kalutara Resort

Address: St. Sebastian's Road | Katukurunda, Kalutara 0001, Sri Lanka
Region: Sri Lanka > Western Province > Kalutara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Kalutara
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Kalutara
#2 Family Hotel in Kalutara
#3 Spa Hotel in Kalutara
#3 Luxury Hotel in Kalutara
Price Range: RM432 - RM1,418 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — AVANI Kalutara Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 105
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Breathe in that fresh sea air and feel the warmth of the sun against your skin. Before you, lies the ocean; behind you, the Kalu Ganga river, twisting almost 100 miles back to Sri Pada, the sacred mountain believed to be the footprint of the Buddha. Where the river meets the ocean, you'll find AVANI Kalutara Resort, and discover a place where your dreams of an island paradise come true.. This hotel was formely known as Kani Lanka Resort & Spa. Skim the white waves of the Indian Ocean on board a traditional fishing boat, or watch the sunlight glitter on the water as you kayak along the riverside... it's almost like you're paddling through diamonds. Later, draw close to the warmth of the beach-side fire and share stories of another incredible day. Savour every bite of that juicy fresh seafood and enjoy a sunset that's beautiful beyond belief... ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
AVANI Kalutara Resort Sri Lanka

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