(LBO) – Sri Lanka’s army has opened its third resort hotel and also created a brand as part of efforts to add more rooms to cater to an influx of tourists and promote soldier welfare.
Army chief Jagath Jayasuriya said the army, which opened its first resort to provide rest and recuperation to soldiers fighting an insurgency, was looking to expand and diversity its hotel assets.
“Our vision is to make the ‘Laya’ brand one of the most sought-after resort hotels in Sri Lanka,” he told a news conference.
“We’re not going to challenge the private sector but trying to help meet the room requirement for the anticipated tourist arrivals and maintain the best standards.”
Jayasuriya said the island has emerged as one of the hottest tourists destinations following the end of its 30-year ethnic war in 2009.
It aims to draw two million tourists by 2016.
“This depends on the rapid build up of room capacity,” Jayasuriya said. “The government has set a target room capacity of 30,000 by 2015.”
The army acquired its first resort in 1989, a 35-room hotel at Wadduwa on the south-west coast now rebranded as the ‘Laya Beach’.
Laya is a Sanskrit word that means state of mental quietude, rest and repose.
The army’s second hotel was the Kukule Ganga holiday resort, the former residential quarters of foreign contractors who built a hydro-power dam in the area in a valley in the central hills, which has been turned into 25 villas.
The latest resort, built with money from the army welfare fund, is close to the Yala wild life sanctuary on the southern coast, with 20 luxury cabanas that overlook and sea and jungle.
All the resorts are professionally managed with some of the staff either serving or ex-army personnel and the children of soldiers killed in combat, said the group general manager in charge of the brand, Sumeda Yasaratne.
Some of the resorts offer camping, safari’s, walking and cycling trails and sports activities like archery, air rifle shooting, tennis and scuba diving.
Jayasuriya said the army aims to add more holiday bungalows islandwide in the near future.