When did you open Aarunya Nature Resort and what inspired you to do so?
We opened our doors in July 2018. Aarunya was a family project involving my parents and uncle, after we found an incredible piece of land and went about developing it as a luxury boutique resort, including its financing, design, construction, marketing, and operations. I was inspired by the ability to come back to Sri Lanka and create something. I was born in Sri Lanka however grew up in Australia and worked as an Architect in 8 different countries before coming back to Sri Lanka to focus on Aarunya and my own Architecture practice.
What do you love most about Aarunya Nature Resort?
The creative process, since I was involved from the ground up, including architecture, interiors and even designing restaurant menus, to marketing, operations, finance, and collaborating with incredibly talented travel influencers to create awesome content. I feel it's a real blessing to be part of something so well received.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Aarunya Nature Resort?
From day one we've been incredibly successful. The most rewarding aspect is to see so many positive guest reviews, receiving recognition through a number of international awards, and also the growing momentum, in terms of allowing us to grow and look at new experiences and offerings.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
The biggest challenge prior to Covid-19, was definitely the aftermath of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. We saw an immediate drop in new bookings and many cancellations, however I was astonished by the resilience, teamwork and resolve of the Sri Lankan people, including our staff, leading to a quick recovery. Within a month we were back in the black, which was a lot better than many of the other hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka. By the end of the year, we were almost back to performing at the level we were at before the bombings, and had even completed our new Sky Suites.
How has Tab helped Aarunya Nature Resort?
Tab has been incredibly useful from day 1 as it took a long time to set up systems with the banks, as we were a startup. Also the ability to take prepayments from anyone anywhere in the world is very convenient.
Why would you recommend Tab to another business?
I would definitely recommend Tab to startups of any size, it's pretty hassle free to setup and use.
Why is Sri Lanka a great place to visit?
The 13th-century Venetian traveller Marco Polo visited and described Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, as being “for its size, better circumstanced than any island in the world”. I think that quote aptly describes what awaits any visitor to its shores, dazzling them with its incredibly diverse cultural, natural, historical, and religious happenings, drawing from thousands of years of trade and civilization.
What would your advice be for anyone thinking about starting their own tourism business?
Follow your passion. Be prepared to learn and adapt to any challenge or task as at any moment things can change, it's a very dynamic and demanding business. Invest in the right talent and team.