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Indulging in the luxuries of Sri Lanka’s deluxe villas

Nayantara Fonseka in conversation with Lashani Ramanayake

Nayantara ‘Taru’ Fonseka has a flair for creativity with a track record that ranges from antique furniture restoration to event management, interior designing and much more. As the founder and Managing Director of Taru Villas, her design mantra entails familiarising herself with a space and then visualising the outcome. It is then that she begins drawing.

Q: How is designing for villas different to doing so for client homes?

A: While having complete creative freedom under the aegis of a brand, the expectation of guests is always considered when designing spaces. Aside from the functional element of large staff and service areas, designing for private residences differs in that they are based on a client’s living requirements.

Q: How do you view luxury and affordability in the travel trade?

A: Some concepts may not appeal to the budget conscious market. But for the right visitor, style, authenticity of service and setting, and exclusivity, make certain villas the perfect holiday getaway.

Smaller facilities benefit travellers who are reverting to personal recommendations for their holiday accommodation due to growing scepticism about the flood of online review sites.

Q: What challenges do you face when building along the coastline?

A: In addition to following coast conservation regulations, the weather and climate are challenges impossible to ignore along the coast. Any structure within a few hundred metres of the shoreline is affected by the salty air and higher humidity, and this affects the finishes as well as building materials used. Also impacted is the design of the garden as well as choice of plants.

A key challenge is to ensure that the maintenance of these structures is manageable and cost-effective.

Q: Given the widening market for luxury villas, what should clients look for in their choice of accommodation?

A: It’s important that guests know what they’re looking for since we all have different ideas of what luxury means. For me, luxury is not a high-tech environment with robotic service or modern bells and whistles.

For many, luxury is found in the intimacy of beautiful and restful rooms, as well  as peaceful spaces that are clean, comfortable and inspiring. Also, it’s important to provide good food and interesting menus. These aspects are at the heart of how guests are served.

Moreover, visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the surrounding natural environment free from their electronics. There’s no better treat than to enjoy genuine hospitality. Sensitive travellers will value their contribution to an ethically managed business that uplifts its employees and the local community.

Q: How can green living be incorporated further in villa life?

A: We must continuously enhance green living – climate change and human destruction of our environment are realities that we can no longer ignore. It’s vital to stop utilising single-use plastics despite the greater effort of managing recyclables.

In our case, a wastewater plant services three properties while solar-powered water heating is available in many villas. We also source most of our ingredients from local markets and reduce the dependency on imports.

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