Experience a Euphoric Stay at a Restored Colonial Manor
Located on a 28 acre coconut estate in Wellawa, Kurunegala, stumbling upon this amazing gem of a location was indeed blissful in every sense of the word. First of all, yes, there are quite a number of boutique villas that are slowly gathering momentum in Sri Lanka as we read on and, no, this place is like no other boutique villa out there in the country.
For myself, the entire experience from start to finish was unfortunately short but well-spent. I was invited to visit and experience Bungalow Berrycove, which once used to be an ancestral home that was then passed down by its original owner to his granddaughter. The place is now owned and managed by her, Rashani Meegama who is a Lawyer by profession and is the Managing Director of the property.
From run-down to classic luxury
After the property was passed down to Rashani by her grandfather, she decided to breathe life to the estate and embarked on the restoration project with the hope of turning it into a boutique villa where local and foreign guests can visit the property and experience a place that once used to be a Walawwa or Manor as it is called. The entire bungalow, following its recent renovation now carries a well-thought out theme of jungle green and white for the most part, in keeping with the lush environs of the surrounding area.
The manor was in a dilapidated state and took about one year to be restored with the help of Rashani’s husband Dhanushka Fernando. The manor went through a complete overhaul along with the addition of a very inviting 4 foot deep swimming pool. The white rafter ceilings and the cool cement tiled floors of the entire bungalow adds a sense of class and luxury in an earthy way.
The rooms are well laid out and have been decorated with a classy blend of jungle green and crisp white linen and adorned with minimalistic décor. The washrooms are also spacious, modern and neat. Comprising of two interconnected rooms and another two individual rooms, the boutique villa is capable of occupying 8 guests. The family rooms are spacious and consist of extra single beds that can be arranged on request, to accommodate even 10 pax.
Speaking of boutique villas, one might agree that the purpose of spending some time at such a location would entail the factor of being served with local cuisine and being treated as if you’re in your own home. There is no doubt about the same being done here as well. A main feature of spending time here is that you find yourself in sync with nature, surrounded by acres of lush green and tall coconut trees in all their splendour.
With Rashani living in Colombo most of the time, the place is being run by the willing hands of Kumara and his wife Butti, who are a delightful couple and eager to please at every instance. Starting off the day, you can get your bed tea brought to your room or decide to have it out in the garden by the pool.
By sunset, you can get ready for a cool and calm evening by the pool or rest on a hammock surrounded by the warmth of fire torches underneath starry nights alone in the dark wilderness with a BBQ dinner if opted for. The estate in itself is inviting and ideal for anyone who enjoys going for long walks or simply likes to explore the surrounding area.
On one edge of the estate, there is a paddy field and opposite the field you will also notice a manmade lake sprinkled with water lilies and nelum kola. The path leading towards the lake makes for an enjoyable trek where guests can go off the beaten track and appreciate Mother Nature in all her glory.
Activities at Bungalow Berrycove
Another addition to the activities portfolio at the property is the inclusion of an air rifle experience for those adventurous guests. Don’t worry; you won’t need special training for this as it’s pretty straightforward and interesting as well as addictive for those ambitious ones who give it a try. Guests will also be able to access a biking trail around the expanse of the property and cycle towards the paddy field and the lovely water reservoir opposite the field.
Bungalow Berrycove is ideal for travellers who are sightseers and enjoy exploring historical sites and cities as Kurunegala, which aeons ago, was known as a kingdom. The area is close to some of Sri Lanka’s ancient landmarks and locations. Guests who need to access places such as Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Kandy and Sigiriya can easily use Bericove Estate as a passage stopover with a stay.
Bungalow Berrycove is also ideal for guests who are researchers and prefer staying long periods of time in quiet properties and conduct studies. Some good examples are coconut researchers, historians or even individuals who seek to research medicinal herbs. The property can also be booked for corporate trips, outbound adventure trips and as a yoga/meditation retreat.
The entire property can also be rented by families for that much needed holiday-getaway in close proximity to rural locations. Honeymooners especially would enjoy this bungalow as well, as the entire property gives off a serene and romantic feel for whoever spends time here. There is almost pin drop silence except for the infrequent vehicle or bicycle that makes its way on the lane past the estate.
Across the lane in front of the estate gate, one can easily reach Deduru Oya where river bathing sessions can be arranged for guests. For the curious minds, nearby attractions include locations such as the Ridi Viharaya, Maraluwawa Raja Maha Viharaya, the Ethagala Elephant Rock and a forest monastery called the Na Uyana Aranya for those who would like to check out meditative sessions at this tranquil location among others in the area.
The bungalow has an interesting array of menus to select from with a good range of village style Sri Lankan dishes to a few western varieties as well. The estate does not provide the options of meat but do offer fish and chicken. However, guests are welcome to bring their own preferred meat to barbeque themselves or get Kumar to do this for them. Corkage is free and guests can also bring their own alcohol.
How to get to Bungalow Berrycove
Travelling from the town of Kurunegala towards Wellawa which is about 12 km away, it is very easy to find Bungalow Berrycove. If you plan to get there by car then turn left on to Ganewatta Road and keep going straight up until you reach Panagamuwa Road on to the right. The drive would take about 15 minutes or even less coming from Kurunegala town.
After turning down that lane, keep going for about 400 metres until you reach the estate gates on the right hand side. If you plan to get the train then board the train towards Kurunegala and get off at Wellawa Train Station, which is only 1.5 km away from the estate. Bungalow Berrycove is the perfect getaway and will no doubt be a cosy retreat to the discerning traveller who is pining for that much needed break from the chaos of city life.
Text by Sara Pathirana
Photography By: Praveen Luther