Le Grand Vision | Daily News

Le Grand Vision

Galle Fort from the Le Grand Hotel pool
Galle Fort from the Le Grand Hotel pool

Le Grand hotel overlooks the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort, which you can enjoy at all times of the day doing laps in their fabulous shimmering azure waters of their open air pool. Whether it is cocktails at sunset while enjoying a special evening event at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival like world famous war photographer Sir Donald McCullin talking about landscape photography or a night out at their sensational restaurant BLUE. A world class venue you can enjoy specialty seafood while watching the sprawling vistas of the Indian Ocean and imagine the golden age of merchant life in the 18th and 19th century as sizzling dishes are brought to your table.

 

The hotel has fifty luxury rooms and seven lavish grand suites with plunge pools, along with two exquisite restaurants that serve world class meals, which are prepared using local include local ingredients such as fish delivered daily by fishermen whose boats sit at the foot of the old city outside the Dutch VOC old gate. Every dining experience is magical as the main restaurant BLUE on the second floor is designed around the boulders that make the area such an exciting geological treat overlooking the ancient battlements that vanish into the darkness as the sun set, only to reappear again at dawn.

The hotel itself located in Galle town, on the south coast of Sri Lanka is easy to get to with the highway and a wonderful team of highly experienced chauffeur guides who work with the property. The journey from the Bandaranaike International Airport takes approximately 130 minutes along the Expressway; exit from the Pinnaduwa interchange on the Expressway. From the exit, you will need to travel a further 10km to reach Le Grand Hotel Galle, Just behind the Hindu temple another wonderful feature of the area.

Stunning view

Every room has a stunning view and the hotel prides itself on its superb service and amazing outlook over the imposing ramparts historic walls. Enter the old fortress see firsthand the breathing corals as the black tunnel gate opens up into a gash of bellowing air, with distended creepers riding pillion on giant Banyan trees hobnobbing with an ancient merchant caste. A strange choreography can always be detected here, with the musical call to prayer emanating from the mosque or the temple’s sound system merging with the toots of ice cream vendors’ bicycle horns and other hot and spicy snacks and pickle vendors plying the sonorities of their trade as the Indian Ocean thunders and whooshes by, barfing on the black rocks its named after.

Its history as a series of huge spice storehouses, a secure vantage point of military importance, is buoyed by its lofty, grandiose colonial architecture and precariously narrow streets filled at night with artisans hand making lace, jewellery and hand carving furniture.

The Dutch Reformed church, Galle Fort being the star attraction, along with the stunning old warehouse, all of which awakens within one that which is primal in man, the desire to explore the many faces of its dungeons and crypts, lairs and corridors, before delving into the dark placenta of black magic replete with chicken blood and cow heads buried in back gardens from sacrifices made for one’s first born, and protecting ones house from the evil spirit by killing a cockral.

Reinventing itself over the centuries, even decades and sometimes even daily seems to be second nature to Galle Fort and the joie de vivre of the inhabitants, the young and the old, the natives and the foreigners, who pick Le Grand as a unique and extremely special place to stay, because in short it provides the best view of the whole fort and also a break from the buzz of old city.

Legendary city

People will tell you proudly about the various theories of Galle’s true origins, stories that you can enjoy hotly debating over sweet cups of fresh ginger or mint tea. Fazal on Leyn Baan Street at the Royal Dutch Café with a little encouragement will show you his historical collection of china plates and his album of photographs showing what happened on the day the tsunami hit the Fort and Galle New Town. Fazal loves to share information handed down over seven generations through his family and each time you go to his café you will find out a little bit more about this fascinating spot. Wherever you wander someone will have a tale to tell about the area - the Fort as the legendary city of Tarshish of biblical times and the place where King Solomon was the first foreigner to arrive in Sri Lanka, where he obtained chests full of gems and spices to woo the Queen of Sheba with. Some of the Muslims will debate this point saying that the Moors have been trading spices for thousands of years in these waters, and then there are those who say the Portuguese were the first foreigners to come to Galle and build this enigmatic Fort of war known in colonial times as the ‘Black Fort’ in order to protect this ancient trading port in the middle of the world. Parts of these walls can still be seen in Law Court Square by the Maritime Museum.

In the National Museum by the Amangalla Hotel on Church Street you will discover the official line on the matter, which describes how the first recorded ship arrived accidentally under Captain Lourenco de Almedia in 1505, when his boat was driven off course from the Maldives and had to take shelter in Galle’s harbour. Legend has it that on arriving the Portuguese heard a cock crow from a rock (cock is galo in Portuguese) and as a result named this new port Galo. The truth lies somewhere between the official and the unofficial history. Merchants for centuries have come from all over the world to trade with Sri Lanka and many of them dazzled by the island’s magnificent beauty decided to settle in Galle. These gem, gold and silver traders came from Portugal, Morocco, Arabia, Malaysia, China and Southern India, each leaving their mark, which you can see both in the current mix of people living in the Fort, the food and through the artifacts on show in the National Museum on Church Street and in the historical archives in Colombo. So go on enjoy this amazing place in five star comforts at Le Grand, which like the ancient citadel is grand in every sense of the word from the high tech gym to the soothing SPA with movie star views of a city that is magic in every sense of the word.


 

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