Villa on View.
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
How did Sri Lanka’s tea industry begin? It started with one Camellia Sinensis plant brought from China in 1824 by the British, who had colonised the island, then known as Ceylon, in 1801.
It has since become a $1.5 billion export industry for this exotic teardrop shaped island in the Indian Ocean.
Alongside a booming tea production industry, tea tourism is also becoming increasingly popular. Take a look at our pick of the best tea experiences in Sri Lanka.
It is here that you can find the prized rare white tea leaves, grown near sea level and never touched by human hands. Founded by Malinga Herman Gunaratne, the estate – also known as the Virgin White Tea Factory or Herman Teas – is located only 35 minutes drive from Galle Fort.
The well-equipped tea factory, with machinery over 140 years old is a living and working museum. Herman or one of his knowledgeable staff will personally give you a tour around the estate, where you will learn how one of the most expensive teas in the world (priced at over $1,500 per kilo) is plucked.
Handunugoda Tea Estate
+94 7771 3999
Perched 1,250 metres above sea level among the lush hills of the Bogawantalawa Valley, you are invited to embark on a journey through the scenic Ceylon tea gardens. A Resident Tea Planter is available to guide you through surrounding tea estates and trekking trails which roam tea-blanketed hills.
You can lose yourself in tea – literally.
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton
+94 11230 3888
Just like wine tasting, Dilmah’s headquarters outside Colombo arrange sip-and-spit sessions where tea enthusiasts learn to distinguish between different types of locally grown teas. Not only will you learn how to appreciate the unique flavour of each variety of tea, you might pick up a tip or two for making an amazing cup of tea as well. These exclusive tea tastings are available by appointment only.
Dilmah Private Tea Tastings
111 Negombo Road, Peliyagoda
+94 11 482 2000
Plan a trip! Elite Havens’ luxury villas make the perfect base for any of these tea experiences.
Every chef in Elite Havens villas has his or her own ‘special’ dishes – the ones that guests ask for again and again. Well, why wouldn’t they? Many of our skilled chefs have trained in internationally acclaimed restaurants. The outstanding chef at Villa Levi shared two of his favourite dishes with us.
Levi Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 100 gr chicken breast
- 1 lemon grass
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 50 gr Shitake mushroom
- 1 ginger
- 1 galangal
- A bunch of coriander leaves
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 2 tbs lime juice
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 small coconut (cut into half)
- Heat the chicken stock and add lemongrass, sliced ginger, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, sliced galangal and bring to boil
- Slice the chicken breast and add sliced mushrooms. Bring to a simmer (5-8 minutes).
- Turn the fire down, add coconut milk and stir constantly.
- Add the lime juice.
- Serve the soup in the coconut bowl.
Prawn and Avocado Salad À La Levi
- 6 prawns, boiled
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- Some green lettuce
- 3 tbs Mayonaise
- 2 tbs Tomato ketchup
- 1 tsp Chilli sauce
- 1 tsp Rum/brandy
- Parsley, chopped red peppers, chopped olive, spring onion for garnish (optional)
- Dice 3 prawns and keep the rest aside
- Dice half avocado and slice the other half
- Cut cucumber to long thin slices
- Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, chilli sauce, rum and mix with diced prawns and avocado.
- Arrange green lettuce on the centre of the plate
- Shape the sliced cucumber to a ring and put it on top of the lettuce
- Scoop prawn and avocado mixture into the cucumber ring
- Place the remaining 3 prawns outside the cucumber ring (tail down)
- Place avocado slices in between the prawns
- Garnish with parsley,
With its dreamy sailing waters including the karst island-studded Phang Nga Bay and the Similan islands, Phuket has long been a leisure-yachting haven. But for sailors seeking a more challenging day out, Thailand’s largest island offers plenty of racing action as well.
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, held every year in early December, is one of Asia’s best known and biggest sailing events. This prestigious race was first held in 1987 in honour of His Majesty the King of Thailand. Every year since the first celebration, it has attracted a mix of sailors with a competitive spirit, from royals to the Royal Thai Navy to expat yachtsmen who join races worldwide.
Now part of the Asian Yachting Circuit, the King’s Cup includes several competition classes and brings in hundreds of yacht owners and crew from around the world. But more than just a sailing race, the King’s Cup is also one of Phuket’s most-anticipated social events, with glittering parties held each evening and a chance for local and international sailors to mingle and explore the island beyond the regatta circuit. Those not joining the race are encouraged to at least make a sunset visit to Kata Beach during King’s Cup, where most of the regatta’s yachts are moored after a day of racing. It’s a picture-perfect sight!
Phuket Raceweek is a newer regatta, held every July in what are considered more challenging conditions than those of the calmer, fair-weather month of December. Sponsored by the Cape Panwa Hotel, races are held off Phuket’s picturesque east coast over four days, with gala events each night at the resort’s gorgeous beachfront location.
Local yacht design skills are on full display at Raceweek, with one of the most popular divisions being the single-design Firefly 850 Sports Class – a fleet of sleek racing catamarans designed and built in Phuket. Another one-design class making a comeback in 2016 is the Platu class, a monohull design that’s popular among the Pattaya and Phuket sailing crowd. Championship titles in the IRC 1, 2 and Cruising, Multihull and Bareboat Charter classes are all up for grabs, with yacht charters available for those without their own boats on Phuket looking to join in the action.
Chinese New Year brings another week of sail races, with the Phang Nga Bay Regatta taking place each year around the Lunar New Year month.
Elite Havens MAGAZINE brings you three of the best restaurants in Canggu, Bali for a day of decadence.
Finns Beach Club, Berawa Beach
Finns moved to its new custom-built home in Canggu in 2016. Peaked alang-alang pavilions supported by bare bamboo create an impressive open floorplan. The design genius of architect Richard Manser, it’s a striking contemporary Indonesian design like no other.
The absolute beachfront club overlooks the surf break at Berawa Beach with a dining “room”, multiple bars and luxurious day-beds flanking a 30-metre infinity pool. The seriously accommodating jellybean-shaped swimming pool is outfitted with a swim-up bar and underwater speakers. Single and double daybeds are first come first served and come with a plush teal towel – yours “free” for the day with a Finns membership or minimum spend on food and bev.
Finns offers two menus, one poolside menu with light bites and food to share (but it’s OK if you want a whole spicy prawn pizza to yourself) and one for the dining areas – a sophisticated fusion menu with local and international cuisine. There’s also a gelato ice cream counter below a nifty map of Indonesia to show off the origins of the local ingredients used, like coffee from West Java and cacao from Bali.
Finns is fabulous for an afternoon of swimming followed by sunset drinks and dinner. Surfers will get amped by the epic flood lighting aimed directly at the break for a cool evening backdoor. It’s family-friendly while also giving off a sassy party vibe with pop remixes from the overhead speakers. And now Finns After Dark keeps the party going with events until 3AM on select dates. Sadly, no breakfast menu here.
Salumeria Tanah Barak, Batu Bolong
Star Melbourne chef, Geoff Lindsay has opened a gorgeous little aperitivo destination in Batu Bolong. Serving spuntini – which is Italian for tapas – this gorgeous haunt is chic and stylish. Hanging dried salami and prosciutto and insanely good cheeses grace an entire glass wall and YIPPPEEE, Campari is the sponsor for cocktails.
In tandem with Farine bakery in Berawa, this gem serves delicious grilled panini, salads, fresh juices and a range of antipasto including anchovies, olives and roasted veggies. Destined for greatness and huge popularity, check in fast with friends for a leisurely grazing plate of luscious delicacies that are rare in Bali,
The otherworldly powers of Bali’s traditional healers are well documented and are part of daily life for locals and expats.
On top of ordinary health issues, spirits both good and bad abound on this Island of the Gods and they can wreak havoc on the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Everything from a broken bone to a broken heart will invoke a visit to one of more than 8,000 healers practising in Bali.
Traditional Balinese healing shot to fame with the 2010 movie Eat, Pray, Love – which shone a light on the late Ubud Balian and priest, Pak Ketut Liyer. He became an instant rock star of the alternative medicine scene and his home was a major tourist destination.
Healers reject being called a Balian as too conceited for their spiritual calling, which is delivered through illness or an ancient family line. Balians specialise in specific areas such as heart problems, migraine headache, sports injuries or the removal of a spell.
The Four Types of Balian
The first is a Ketakson, who is usually a female and will channel between the client and God and call on the spirit of a dead person for guidance and pass on the information.
The second is a Pica – a medium and not a formal student of traditional medicine, massage or magic. There are stories of physical objects – such as the Balinese dagger called a kris – appearing out of thin air during a session with a Pica.
The third is a Usada who receives divine knowledge during a severe illness that leads them to study the Lontars – ancient, sacred texts written on bamboo. They are a masters’ apprentice while studying anatomy, ethics, traditional herbs, massage, magic, meditation, yoga, and tantra among many subjects. Black and white magic are widely practised in Bali.
The fourth kind of Balian combines all of the above and during a session, the healer may appear mildly psychotic, hearing voices and having visions while the wisdom enters their body.
How To Visit a Balian
Travellers can visit a Balian or even study for a few days with an expert. Etiquette must be observed so dress modestly and be patient since locals with real illnesses will be also waiting. Bring an offering of money but never pass cash directly to the healer.