Underneath the Mango Tree – not your usual resort

One must be very careful in using the term “resort” to describe Underneath the Mango Tree (UTMT). This boutique luxury hotel located in the tiny town of Dikwella (180 km from Colombo) is anything but your typical resort

You realize this from the moment you enter the main lobby when you see the little shop and the tailor’s desk on the right. Besides purchasing the ready items, you can also get custom outfits made in 24 hours by the local seamstress.

Check-in:

The not-your-usual experience continues with the welcome drink. Now, this was only the second hotel we stayed at in Sri Lanka but we were a bit amazed to be served a large coconut with two test tubes sticking out of it! While we were busy examining the curious apparatus, out of the resort walked the lovely Tina Pezzarelli; one half of the dynamic duo (Alex being the other half) that manages UTMT. Tina is basically just a bubble of energy. Despite being tired after our long journey from Ambalangoda, her enthusiasm was hard to resist and she got us excited about exploring this new place.

Visually, UTMT’s main reception area (and indeed the rest of the resort) is decorated with bright colours but not in an overpowering way. Old world yellow lamps hanging from the ceiling give a warm & cozy feel. As you are escorted to your room, it is impossible to not notice the game room & the children’s play pen in the centre of the lobby but the real attraction is the cinema theatre; that’s right…Underneath the Mango Tree has a full fledged cinema hall complete with a popcorn machine within its premises! Three movies are screened every day; make sure you check the blackboard for the show listings. The posters at the entrance are a cool mix of Hollywood and Bollywood classics.

Living arrangements:

We stayed in one of the hotel’s Double Rooms. Our names were written on the blackboard next to the door which was a very nice personal touch. Guests are encouraged to use the blackboard to provide instructions to the hotel staff (clean the room, do not disturb etc.) which we thought was quite neat. Also, the room key is an actual key, not a key card that most modern hotels use.

From the moment we walked in, we were impressed by the eclectic décor of the room. The teakwood panels, wall-mounted telephones and locally stitched lampshades are decidedly old-world. At the same time, the room is equipped with modern amenities including Wi-Fi and an iPhone dock with Internet radio. UTMT also allows guests to borrow iPads during their stay for their own use.

With 375 sq. feet of living space, there is lots of room devoted to storage. During our conversations with Tina and Alex we found out that most guests typically spend a week or more at UTMT. Consequently, the rooms are designed to feel more like a home than a hotel.

underneath the mango tree room

The bedroom opens out onto a wooden balcony which overlooks the ocean. It’s small but cozy enough to sit and curl up with a book or sip a cup of tea. One of the more unusual things about the room was the open air shower. It was quite an odd experience to have a hot bath with a cool breeze blowing from the sea. The room also comes with a tub and luxurious toiletries including bath salts and body lotion. We appreciated UTMT’s commitment to eco-friendliness by using recycled milk bottles instead of plastic for the toiletries.

Activities:

There are so many things to do at UTMT that we barely felt like stepping out of the resort. Between the tea tasting, the 1,500 book library and the infinity pool (open 24/7), there is something for everyone. You can also book a cooking class, a bartending class or yoga lessons to pass the time.

We participated in the afternoon tea tasting which happens every day between 4 and 5 PM. The hotel serves a new cake daily. We were lucky enough to sample their delicious orange cake along with lemongrass and yogi tea.

In the evenings, the beautifully decorated club/lounge area (complete with a grand piano) is a perfect place to have a drink or two (or five). We were also the lucky winners (actually, we were the only entrants) of the daily UTMT quiz (how many kilos of seafood are served each month at UTMT?) and were awarded free cocktails for our answer.

Missing your loved ones? Send them a postcard right from within the resort or give them a surprise call from the retro telephone booth which allows guests to dial internationally at no charge (see what we mean by not needing to step out?).

Fortunately, UTMT’s weather coconut was steady during our entire stay and we experienced nothing but gorgeous weather.

Beach:

UTMT’s private beach is just a short walk downhill from the resort. You can rent body boards, play boules, sit at the bar or if you’re not feeling adventurous simply lie in a hammock and watch the waves. The beach is extremely clean and well-maintained.

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Food:

The UTMT food was one of our favorite things; especially the breakfast. Having fried eggs, fresh fruits and coffee with the strong ocean breeze blowing was a delightful experience. On our first day, we enjoyed talking to Alex who joined us at breakfast. Both Tina and Alex really go out of their way to interact with their guests to make them feel more at home.

One of the best dishes we had during our entire Sri Lanka trip was the prawn salad with raw mango. We definitely recommend it to any seafood lover!

Don’t miss out on a chance to try the local fruits (depending on the season) which are offered to guests every evening in the courtyard. We tried freshly cut rambutans (a relative of the lychee), pomelo (similar to grapefruit) and pineapples.

The lawn in front of the main restaurant is a great place to enjoy the sunset and drinks into the late evening. Tina and Alex were kind enough to join us for drinks and spoke to us about their life in Sri Lanka which was the perfect end to the day.

Fitness at UTMT:

On our final day at Underneath the Mango Tree, we got a chance to participate in a workout session with fitness and health coach Aaron Wickramasekara (@aaron_wik). Before getting to the workouts themselves, Aaron sat us down for an hour and gave us an overview of health basics like eating right, the correct ways to gain/lose weight and why crash diets are harmful.

He’s extremely passionate about fitness and recommends the following tips to people who want to stay fit while traveling:

  1. Do some research on caloric intake/expenditure. The idea is that if you want to maintain your body weight your daily calorie intake should equal the amount your body burns. There are many mobile apps available which can help you calculate and track this.
  2. Try to eat as healthy as you can during your travel.
  3. Stay as physically active as possible. You can go for power walks, do yoga or hit the resort’s gym for an hour.
  4. Finally, and most importantly, don’t let fear of going out of shape ruin your holiday. You are on holiday after all!

With the objective of allowing guests to stay healthy during their visit, UTMT offers Activity Boot Camp; a 7-day retreat to improve fitness and performance and increasing your energy. Under Aaron’s expert eye, you can shed extra pounds with fitness sessions, yoga, individualized diets and relaxing massages.

A word of caution; Aaron is extremely demanding when it comes to his students. The 20-exercise routine he put us through was challenging and left our muscles quite sore. Thankfully, we had a foot massage scheduled an hour later which helped. But this got us ready for another adventure a week later when we climbed the 1,200 steps to Sigiriya fortress. We like to believe that the workout got us into better shape than we would have been otherwise (thanks Aaron!).

If you’re looking for more than just a foot massage, UTMT offers the full range of ayurveda services including the shirodhara and panchakarma. The staff at the spa were extremely sweet and helpful.

Overall, we absolutely loved our stay at Underneath the Mango Tree. By the last day of our stay, it felt like a home away from home and we really did not want to leave. We recommend at least a week’s stay to experience all the activities in the resort.

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We were guests of Underneath the Mango Tree but our opinion as always is our own.

32 Comment

  1. What an atmospheric place!
    Antonina recently posted…8 reasons why my mother-in-law is my favorite travel companionMy Profile

  2. looks wonderful!
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…My English memories: Bath & StonehengeMy Profile

  3. This is place looks so cozy and inviting, as you said it doesn’t look like a resort!

  4. A lovely name “underneath a mango tree” for this boutique luxury hotel and it’s very beautiful, too.
    Marcelle recently posted…Traveling Norway Without Breaking The BankMy Profile

  5. Lolo says: Reply

    Custom made outfits in 24 hours at your hotel? Sign me up! That sounds awesome! #feetdotravel

  6. Jenn | By Land and Sea says: Reply

    I seriously want to go here! What an awesome place – love everything about it!! Saving this for later, and sharing too!

  7. This really does look like a unique place to stay. I wish I’d known about this when I was in Sri Lanka last year. Loved the prawn and mango salads too!
    Dannielle recently posted…9 Places To Experience Local Culture In BaliMy Profile

  8. This resort looks beautiful and we love the slightly quirky edge. Sri Lanka has been on our wish list for a couple of years, we must try and get there soon.
    Marcus and Mel recently posted…FlyBe Flight Review – Cardiff To London City AirportMy Profile

  9. That’s unusual all right! Especially the hall where you get through a tailor’s shop! Yet I was surprised to read about the international calls at no charge, very convenient and nice of them!
    Travelling Dany recently posted…Guide to Giethoorn: a Magical village in the Netherlands without roadsMy Profile

  10. I wish I had read this before I went to Sri Lanka! It truly seems like an amazing place to relax and wind down. I mean they have a cinema!! WOW! And I love that the fitness instructor actually sat you down to tell you more about healthy lifestyle-you don’t see that too often. The room looks fab! I really like the shower!

  11. Ooh! I love the idea of a pool that is open 24/7! I usually miss out on the pool because I tend to go out and come back to my hotel only after dinner, by which time the pool is already closed for the day! So a 24/7 pool, an infinity one at that, sounds really cool! Also like the idea of a blackboard next to room door but I’m not sure if I’d like to have my name written on it for everyone else to see too, so I’d probably wipe it clean as soon as I get to the room, haha!
    RaW | Ramble and Wander recently posted…Malaysia: Top Things to Do and See in Tawau, SabahMy Profile

  12. Shona says: Reply

    What a unique place to stay. Tina and Alex obviously love what they do to put that much effort into making their guests feel so welcome. I believe you when you say you didn’t want to leave. I love the weather station, the pool, the rooms look very comfortable and love an outdoor shower. Cocktails with a sunset view and delicious and healthy meals, Underneath the Mango Tree ticks a lot of boxes. Thanks for sharing.
    Shona recently posted…Cambodia: A Tour of Raffles Hotel Le Royal!My Profile

  13. Barry says: Reply

    Underneath the Mango Tree looks like a nice place to spend a few nights – I could certainly imagine taking my girlfriend to a place like this. Love the book case filled to the brim of books!
    Barry recently posted…Visiting the Italian City of TurinMy Profile

  14. Amelie says: Reply

    I’m heading to Sri Lanka in February, so I’m super excited to read your review! This place looks absolutely incredible!

  15. Wow, this really looks like a cool place to stay. Really like the lobby and the small shop looks so cozy. When I will travel to Sri Lanka, I will definitely look for this place. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Nathan says: Reply

    This place looks amazing! I would love to go for a visit. I love how it’s situated so near the beach. It looks like you had a great time.
    Nathan recently posted…Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna) Ljubljana, SloveniaMy Profile

  17. Elena says: Reply

    Indeed, an unusual experience. These days, places like this are rare finds. Tina and Alex definitely thought through this concept down to the tiniest detail.
    Elena recently posted…Stockholm Lunch for 100KrMy Profile

  18. Elisa says: Reply

    This hotel looks very cool! I was sold with the infinity pool and the piano in the corner but of course there is much more to do “under the mango tree”. Now I understand why guests usually stay more than a week in the hotel, I could stay all my life!

  19. I too loved this resort – underneath mango retreat. The place is perfect, cozy and vibrant. I liked the personal touches used everywhere and the coconut weather is best. Would love to stay here someday for sure.
    Suruchi recently posted…6 must visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappearMy Profile

  20. That’s such a lovely resort. I’m in love with the bath robes.. tee hee.. and everything else, including the interiors. I could just lie by the hammock all day. Cheers!!

  21. Baia says: Reply

    OMG I love the name! I think its one of the most creative names of a resort I have heard! What can I say, the hotel looks absolutely awesome, loved the industrial, vintage and minimalistic design mixture. If I ever go to Colombo I will check them out for sure! Thanks for sharing this

  22. The resort looks phenomenal. I can see myself just relaxing and enjoying the moment. Oh, and the he prawn salad with raw mango is to die for.

  23. Megan Jerrard says: Reply

    I can definitely see how you didn’t want to leave the resort, and how the word resort doesn’t really even start to cover what Underneath the Mango Tree is! Sounds like an incredible escape – I love how the rooms have a blackboard next to them with your names, I’m very big into that personal touch. And their commitment to eco-friendliness is also a big props.

    So much to do! I would be torn between wantting to spend all my time at the beach, and exploring the grounds for other activities. BTW, prawn salad with raw mango sounds AMAZING. What an awesome trip!

  24. This sounds like a amazing retreat. The resort is beautiful and unique. If I stayed there, I would be tempted not to leave the resort too. It looks so relaxing.
    Carla Durham recently posted…View from The Kennedy Center rooftop terraceMy Profile

  25. Anna Schlaht says: Reply

    Wow. I love everything about Underneath the Mango Tree. What a great, thorough review that made me fall for this boutique hotel … and I haven’t even been there. I love the personalized blackboards, what a sweet touch, and the charming decor, tea tasting, and huge library are all bonuses too! Would definitely love to make it here someday and spend my time lounging at the beach and soaking all the small details.

  26. What a really neat hotel! So interesting and different! I love the name too. You looked like you really enjoyed it!

  27. I have to agree. Its just not the typical resort types! In-house tailor? I’d like that! Bedroom opens to a wooden balcony that oversees the sea? Has private beach? Whoa, that’s paradise, that’s heaven! I’m planning to visit Srilanka in 2018. Let’s see!!!
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  28. Blair villanueva says: Reply

    Indeed this is not the usual hotel. They have personal touch and the place is very homey. It is also relaxing and facilities are impressive!

  29. Wow! This resort seems outstanding! Love your suggestion!

  30. Such a great resort – love the character of the place, the amazing showers, the beach and even fitness classes! You guys are finding some incredible spots!
    Travel Lexx recently posted…9 Beautiful Lakes in the USA You Must VisitMy Profile

  31. I just love this resort, from the way you have described it here. The entire looks is so different than the usual hotels and thats quite amazing. Definitely a must stay for people looking for a different experience

  32. You nailed it in the title! This place is definitely unsual. This is definitely a resort that we would love to experience. Your pictures are terrific and made us want to stay there too one day! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us. Keep up the great work
    Travel4lifeblog recently posted…EXPERIENCING CARNIVAL IN RIO DE JANEIRO/LE CARNAVAL DE RIO DE JANEIROMy Profile

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