Galle Face Hotel

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Logo of Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.

The Galle Face Hotel, founded in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1864, is the oldest hotel east of Suez.[1] It is located at 2, Galle Road, Colombo 03. The Ceylon Hotels Corporation is now part of the Galle Face Hotel Group.[2] The hotel is a member of Select Hotels and Resorts International.[3] The current chairman of the hotel is Sanjeev Gardiner, since the demise of his father Cyril Gardiner in 1997.[4] It is listed as one of the "1000 Places to See Before You Die" in the book of the same name.[5] It received the "Best Heritage Hotel" title three years running at the Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism (of Sri Lanka), held in June 2010,[6] June 2011[7] and September 2012.[8] In addition it won the first-ever PATA award for Best International Heritage Hotel, in 2012.[9] In September 2012, it became the first hotel in Sri Lanka to be featured on a postage stamp, along with three other iconic buildings in Colombo.[10][11]

History[edit]

The entrance
Another view of the entrance

The hotel was originally built by four British entrepreneurs in 1864. Its name derives from the stretch of lawn which it faces, known as the Galle Face Green. It began as a Dutch villa called Galle Face House. Land for the hotel's expansion was purchased between 1870 and 1894. In 1894, architect Thomas Skinner completed its current classic wing, its facade being largely intact until the present day, though with many refurbishments.[12]

Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners regularly entertained guests at the Coconut Grove, the night club attached to the hotel.[13][14] The venue was even popularised in a song. Radio Ceylon recorded music programmes from the Coconut Grove as well as the Galle Face Hotel itself, presented by some of the popular Radio Ceylon announcers in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Livy Wijemanne and Vernon Corea.[15] Thousands listened to the broadcasts, particularly 'New Year's Eve' dances from the Galle Face Hotel.

D.G. William (known as 'Galle Face William'), the Lanka Sama Samaja Party trade union leader, first worked and organised workers here. The Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke wrote the final chapters of 3001 - The Final Odyssey in the hotel.[16][17]

The Regency, located in the restored southern wing of the hotel was completed in early 2006. It is marketed as the luxury wing of the hotel.[18]

The hotel also employs the world's oldest hospitality industry veteran and doorman, Kottarapattu Chattu ("K.C.") Kuttan. Joining the hotel as a bell boy cum waiter in 1942, he continues to serve.[19][20][21][22]

In April 2013, the Classic wing of the hotel, began its refurbishment which is expected to take around 24 months.[23]

Celebrity Guests[edit]

Celebrity clients include the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, John D. Rockefeller, former British Prime minister Edward Heath, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Prince Phillip, the journalist Eric Ellis and photographer Palani Mohan, future British RAF officer and MI6 agent F. W. Winterbotham,[24] Prince Sadruddhin Aga Khan, then-Prince Hirohito of Japan, Roger Moore, Carrie Fisher, Richard Nixon, Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Marshal Josip Broz Tito.[25]

Facilities[edit]

Restaurants[edit]

The Galle Face Hotel has four restaurants. They are the Sea Spray seafood restaurant, which has a daily dinner buffet, The 1864 Fine Dining Restaurant and wine cellar, an English pub called In.. On the Green, and a buffet restaurant known as the Verandah.[26] The open Verandah is the venue for the Daily High Tea on the terrace.

Museum[edit]

The hotel features a museum and art gallery in its Regency Wing, which houses the first car that Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh owned, and several pieces of memorabilia from the hotel's history.

Pool[edit]

The hotel has a small pool with sea water, that is situated very close to the Indian Ocean.

Chequerboard[edit]

There is a black and white square known as the Chequerboard, close to the Sea Spray Restaurant. This is often used by guests to watch the evening sunset.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ P Harris, Delightfully Imperfect: A Year in Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Hotel, Kennedy & Boyd, 2006
  2. ^ http://www.ceylonhotels.lk
  3. ^ http://www.selecthotels.com/other/galle_face_hotel/
  4. ^ Great Grand and Famous Hotels, Great Grand & Famous, 2008
  5. ^ Patricia Schultz, 1000 Places to See Before You Die,Workman Publishing, 2002
  6. ^ http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/index.php/business/127-local/13512.html
  7. ^ http://www.dailynews.lk/2011/06/10/fea36.asp
  8. ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2012/09/09/fin34.asp
  9. ^ http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2012/09/09/fin34.asp
  10. ^ http://www.lankapuvath.lk/index.php/latest-news/general2/25788-four-stamps-on-heritage-buildings
  11. ^ http://www.asianmirror.lk/english/index.php/main-news/10181-prideful-colonial-buildings-in-colombo-depicted-in-sri-lankan-stamps-
  12. ^ http://www.nation.lk/2010/01/17/eyefea5.htm
  13. ^ http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lkawgw/mignonne.htm
  14. ^ http://www.lmd.lk/2005/November/public.htm
  15. ^ http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/none/10-cantmiss-restored-colonial-hotels-799594
  16. ^ http://www.gluckman.com/ArthurCClarke.html
  17. ^ Preface to A.C. Clarke, 3001 - The Final Odyssey, Del Ray, 1998
  18. ^ http://www.gallefacehotel.com/html_regency/home_regency.htm
  19. ^ <http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/14/2819097.htm>
  20. ^ http://www.france24.com/en/20100213-sri-lankas-legendary-doorman-turns-90
  21. ^ http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/02/13/fea26.asp
  22. ^ http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/02/27/%e2%80%98kuttan%e2%80%99-of-galle-face-hotel-turns-91/
  23. ^ http://www.sundaytimes.lk/130224/business-times/gardiner-group-gearing-to-refurbish-its-heritage-properties-33764.html
  24. ^ F.W. Winterbotham, "The Ultra Spy", pg. 49
  25. ^ List of Guests engraved on a plaque in the Grand lobby of the hotel
  26. ^ http://www.gallefacehotel.com/html_regency/dining.htm
  27. ^ http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/09-11/8-old-colonial-hotels-you-can-still-stay-in.html

Literature[edit]

  • Paul Harris (2007). Delightfully Imperfect: A Year in Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Hotel. Glasgow: Kennedy & Boyd. ISBN 978-1-904999-38-6. 
  • William Warren, Jill Gocher (2007). Asia's legendary hotels: the romance of travel. Singapore: Periplus Editions. ISBN 978-0-7946-0174-4. 

External links[edit]