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 one of 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.[8] 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.

Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

History[edit]

A view of the entrance to the Galle Face Hotel after refurbishment (2015).
A view of the entrance to the Galle Face Hotel before refurbishment (2008).

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 South wing, and the property has remained largely unchanged until the present day, though with many extensive restorations.[9]

Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners regularly entertained guests at the Coconut Grove, the night club attached to the hotel.[10][11] 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.[12] 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.[13][14]

The hotel also employed 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 continued to serve until his death on 18 November 2014.[15][16][17][18]

In April 2013, the north wing of the hotel began its refurbishment. In November 2014, It was announced by its new General Manager, Antony G. Paton, that it would formally reopen on 1 March 2015.[19] The hotel reopened on 26 October 2015, being formally declared open by the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena.[20]

Celebrity guests[edit]

Celebrity guests include Mahatma Gandhi; the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin; John D. Rockefeller; former British Prime minister Edward Heath; Princess Alexandra of Denmark; Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh; First Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru; Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India; journalist Eric Ellis and photographer Palani Mohan; future British RAF officer and MI6 agent F. W. Winterbotham;[21] Prince Sadruddhin Aga Khan; then-Prince Hirohito of Japan; Roger Moore; Carrie Fisher; Richard Nixon, US President; Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma; Noël Coward, English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer; Josip Broz Tito, Marshal of Yugoslavia.[22]

Facilities[edit]

Restaurants[edit]

The Galle Face Hotel has three restaurants, two bars and a pub. They are the Seaspray seafood restaurant, The 1864 fine dining restaurant and wine cellar, a buffet restaurant known as the Verandah, Travellers' Bar, the Pool Bar with a spectacular view of the sunset, and an English pub called In.. On the Green.[23] The open Verandah restaurant is the venue for the Afternoon Tea on the terrace.

Museum[edit]

The museum and art gallery at the Galle Face Hotel

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 swimming pool at the Galle Face Hotel

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.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harris, Paul (2006). Delightfully Imperfect: A Year in Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Hotel. Kennedy & Boyd. 
  2. ^ "CHC: Home". Ceylon Hotels Corporation. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka". Selecthotels.com. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Great Grand and Famous Hotels, Great Grand & Famous, 2008
  5. ^ Schultz, Patricia (2002). 1000 Places to See Before You Die. Workman Publishing. 
  6. ^ http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/index.php/business/127-local/13512.html[dead link]
  7. ^ "Galle Face Hotel wins Best Heritage Hotel". Daily News. 10 June 2011. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Face Group wins Best Heritage Hotel 2011 award". Sunday Observer. 9 September 2012. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Marshall, Peter (17 January 2010). "Luxury meets Heritage: History of the Galle Face Hotel". The Nation. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Karunaratne, Ilika (14 June 2003). "Personality of the Week: Mignonne Fernando". Daily News. Retrieved 23 December 2015 – via Rootsweb. 
  11. ^ Rodrigo, Savithri (2005). "High-Flyer in Music's Jet Set". Lanka Monthly Digest. Archived from the original on 16 July 2009. 
  12. ^ Woo, Michelle (1 April 2010). "10 of Asia's can't-miss colonial hotels". CNN Travel. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "Arthur C. Clarke's Final Odyssey". Gluckman.com. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  14. ^ Clarke, A. C. (1998). "Preface". 3001: The Final Odyssey. Del Ray. 
  15. ^ "Sri Lanka's legendary doorman turns 90". ABC News. 14 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Sri Lankas legendary doorman turns 90". France 24. 14 February 2010. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Kuttan marks 90th birthday". Daily News. 13 February 2010. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  18. ^ "'Kuttan' of Galle Face Hotel Turns 91". The Sunday Leader. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "New GM Paton to turn Galle Face Hotel into "best hotel in Colombo"". Daily FT. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "Newly refurbished Galle Face Hotel opened for business". The Times of Sri Lanka. 27 October 2015. 
  21. ^ Winterbotham, F.W. (1989). The Ultra Spy. London: Macmillan. p. 49. ISBN 0-333-51425-4. 
  22. ^ List of Guests engraved on a plaque in the Grand lobby of the hotel.
  23. ^ "Wining and Dining". Galle Face Hotel. Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. 
  24. ^ Kastrone, Inga (3 November 2009). "8 Old Colonial Hotels You Can Still Stay In". BootsnAll. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 

Literature[edit]

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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 6°55′12″N 79°50′46″E / 6.9200°N 79.8462°E / 6.9200; 79.8462