Here’s a direct ‘experience to pen’ retelling of events at Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala – that completely spoiled and changed my expectation of hotels, while also unintentionally ruining every other hotel experience in the days to come.
Hello Wild Coast,
We were greeted with cold towels, ice lollies and tea-infused beverages. After a quick round of safety and security measures, we were given a tour of the resort while waiting for our room to be prepared.
Our all-inclusive package meant that there were already cocktails at the bar with our names on it. But lo and behold, you didn’t need any sort of alcohol to get or stay intoxicated while at Wild Coast Tented Lodge. The infinity view of pool merging to the sea was so effortless. We didn’t realise how much we missed the shades of blue until we walked through the Dining Pavilion, and it was the first thing we saw. The bamboo clad domes built to mirror the jagged bouldered coast was obvious and just beautiful. Obvious in the way, that it belonged there, any other way would have been too frivolous.
While waiting for our room and our welcome cocktail, we wandered into the library; and my oh my, I felt like the Belle of Wild Coast seeing the beast’s library for the first time. Needless to say, I was smitten. Thankfully, because of this wonderful distraction and the refreshing cocktail that arrived shortly after, we didn’t even realise that our room wasn’t prepared yet, but no complains here. I got lost reading The Secret Language of Animals in the cosy confines of this jungle library.
The library, domed and walled with books from different genres – about travels in Sri Lanka, understanding animal behaviours & patterns, tea stories, biographies and so much more. All neatly arranged between skulls of former beasts!
I wasn’t joking about being intoxicated with the sheer rugged beauty of the resort. The dome-shaped ‘Cocoons’ are quite obviously the poster child for glamping. Writing this itself takes me back to that glorious moment of seeing her for the first time.
Our Cocoon was spacious – too spacious for a tent in the middle of a jungle, with a large, soft bed that didn’t belong in the jungle, a copper bathtub which didn’t belong in the jungle and creature comforts which didn’t belong in the jungle.
Quite obviously, Relais and Chateaux standards have stolen my heart and I’m afraid I shall walk the earth, restless and afraid until I step foot in another property with the brand.
Jungle Afternoon Tea
Lounging in the pool accompanied with a few more cocktails to help us beat the heat was the perfect way to welcome the Afternoon Tea experience, with the stunning view of the coast and the ocean.
Fun Fact – Wild Coast is located in the Buffer Zone of Yala National Park, which means it’s the basically the closest you get to staying next to the protected national park.
Another Fun Fact – wild elephants and other animals are often seen wandering around the coast and within the property itself. Guests are obviously warned not to walk around the resort after sunset. You’re meant to call someone to escort you after sunset and before sunrise. No joke. They were pretty stern when we said we can manage to find our way to the safari jeep at 5am the next morning.
Scones and other cute bite-sized snacks were served on a tiered tray, accompanied with two pots of tea. I generally am not fond of Dilmah Tea – mainly because the products available at local supermarkets are not the greatest. So, I wasn’t hoping for much, but I opted for the Green Tea with Moroccan Mint.
Oh. My. Word. Where has this tea been all my life?! The mint was so good and refreshing that I basically drank the whole pot before I realised, I had a tea full of belly! (Disclaimer: After we got back, I bought Dilmah Moroccan Mint green tea from the local supermarket; I was disappointed. Apparently there are two ranges – so look for the Silver Jubilee Range and not the Single Origin.)
This was a cute addition to our evening. Cocktails on the rocky outcrop under the moonlight (while secretly hoping to spot a wild elephant in the distant) was exciting and romantic. The staff had set up a cocktail stand with punch and about 5 liquors to choose from. I wasn’t a huge fan of the mix, so I switched to red wine. My stomach was already in a cocktail though after guzzling down a pot of tea just an hour before.
Cuisine at Wild Coast
The food at the resort was simple and delicious. There was nothing complicated or frivolous about the experience. We had a BBQ at dinner, a lovely breakfast with fresh croissants and eggs benny, and a chicken tandoori with rice for lunch that kept our stomach content. The homemade cinnamon and salted caramel ice cream were deee-licious.
After an amazing safari experience at Leopard Trails, the bar for Wild Coast Tented Lodge was definitely higher. I’ve read quite a bit on their safari experiences and couldn’t wait to see just how much they could one-up Leopard Trails.
Our ranger escorted us from our Cocoon at 5:15am to the Dining Pavilion for coffee and biscuits. By 5:30 am we were on our way to Yala National Park. We spoke to the ranger a bit, but he didn’t seem too chatty or conversational, so we left it at that. As we entered the park, all the jeeps raced towards one tree – a leopard was climbing down, clearly bothered by the roaring engines. We just got a glimpse of her through the cluster of jeeps infront of us. The ranger whizzed us off to the spot where she usually appears to – a watering hole. We stayed there for about 15 minutes, just sitting in anticipated silence which quickly turned to impatient silence. The ranger drove up and down another trail hoping to catch a glimpse of her, but she stayed well hidden and didn’t make any appearance.
We drove around for a while after our insistence – now bored of sitting in silence while anticipating a wild leopard to stick to its routine. I got a glimpse of an elephant’s butt as he had breakfast. And a glimpse of a sloth bear waddling back to the thicket after quenching his thirst at a watering hole.
The ranger pointed out that he was right that this watering hole was the best place to stay if we wanted to spot an animal. I was content having spotted the Big Three, but definitely missed Krishan from Leopard Trails. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the animals – I focused on simply being present. We had tea sandwiches, cake and popcorn on the safari too! The popcorn should definitely be an addition on every safari experience!
Disclaimer – We were later informed by Management that due to the current situation, they had to rely on part-time rangers for their safari, and this was probably the reason for a less than enriching experience at Wild Coast.
We sped through the straight reddish road through the jungle and headed back to the hotel for breakfast. We spent the rest of the morning relaxing before making our way to the next stop – Jetwing Yala.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala exceeded our expectations in more ways than one and was definitely one for the books. Owned by Resplendent Ceylon; they’re the first and only Relais and Chateaux property in Sri Lanka, with two other resorts; Ceylon Tea Trails and Cape Weligama.
Have you been to Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala yet? Comment below if its next on your travel list!