We've just come back from an eight-night stay at The Fortress (followed by a week at the Taj Exotica in the Maldives - review to come).
All I can say is that if anyone has been contemplating this hotel for their holiday in Sri Lanka, then don't hesitate in making a booking. I am glad to finally have been so I can share some information that might help people in deciding.
First of all, this hotel offers incredible value for money. The minimum rate at the time we booked was $510 per night, but this was brought down to $210 not long before we left. On the hotel's website they offer free nights also, and we took advantage of four free nights when we paid for four. B&B or HB rates can be negotiated with the hotel, and if you take the cheapest room, you will likely be upgraded.
We started our stay in an Ocan Room, which was fantastic. After two nights we were kindly upgraded to an Ocean Loft, but to be honest, I kind of preferred the Ocean Room. The loft is on two floors with a small pool downstairs and massive plasma TV, but we were mainly just in the upstairs bedroom part, and with the loft you miss out on the fab jacuzzi and twin sinks in the bathroom that the Ocean Room has. Fortress and Beach rooms are identical to the Ocean Room - only change is the view and the floor.
The rooms are top notch. Big plasma TVs (although slightly disappointing range of TV channels), Nespresso coffee machine with free cartridges, selection of teas, wonderful bathroom amenities, super surround sounnd system with an iPod in each room containing any music you can think of, massive bed, brilliant pod bathtub jacuzzi with changing coloured lights. All the lighting is state of the art. Basically, the hotel offers you excellent quality rooms at a very decent price.
The website doesn't capture the size of the pool. It's huge, and the loungers are great. Poolside service great, with fruit kebabs, cold towels, ice cream being handed out during the day.
There is nothing to do at the hotel apart from lounge around by the pool listening to the sound of the ocean. But don't think that you'll be totally isolated. Unawatuna (a popular place for surfers etc. I believe) is only a ten minute tuk-tuk ride away ($3 return we paid a guy) and Galle, with some lovely hotels to go to for dinner is not far away either. You can take a day trip safari to Yala national park, visit the Fort at Galle, and do some other small trips from the hotel. Watersports not available at the hotel, but closeby at Unawatuna. DVD and book library providing free lending in the hotel. The bar area is nice in the evening for a cocktail.
We had a massage at the spa, which was great. I would say, however, that the spa is not on par with some of the hotels we have stayed in previously with similar spec. It was really nice, and the treatments great... just not totally taken with the surroundings - felt it could have had more of a wow factor. No slippers provided, or pre or post treatment beverage.
The menu was greatly imporved the last day of our stay. Good selection to suit all tastes, with some very reasonably priced options. Beers are 300 Rp, which is about $3, so cheap enough. A dinner without wine will probably set you back about $50 for a couple, with a starter and main and some beers. Breakfast was great, although buffet not on every day (you can order whatever you want that was in the buffet).
We had a truly magical stay at The Fortress. It was very quiet during our stay so we got a lot of attention, but the staff are really really great, and we found this to be lacking during our stay in the Maldives straight after Sri Lanka. The Maldives is a lot more about getting you to spend as much money as possible during our stay, whereas at The Fortress we found the guys great for a chat and a laugh, but equally discreet when you want privacy. The guys at reception were genuinele happy to offer us the room upgrade, and helped us out with loads of little things during our stay.
If you want action or loads of things to do, perhaps a long stay like ours isn't for you. If you are travelling around Sri Lanka and are passing by Galle, try to stay one or two nights and enjoy the hotel, the pool, and the lovely ocean view (you can't swim in the Ocean right by the hotel - the current is too strong). If, like us, you are looking for a relaxing luxury holiday, The Fortress is a winner. If you can afford it, take the seaplane from Colombo rather than a road transfer, as it took us the bones of five hours to get there after our 11-hour flight, which wasn't ideal.
You will love The Fortress. We did.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A luxury 53 room boutique resort located on the Southern shores of Sri Lanka. The Fortress has been styled after Galle’s powerful ancient Dutch Fort, blending the country’s Dutch and Portuguese influences with Sri Lankan motifs and indigenous furnishings to echo the historic days of Old Ceylon. This has been artfully and sensitively fused with innovative architecture, high design features, state-of-the-art technology, sensual living spaces with naturally modern design, and incredible gastronomic experiences, to stunning effect. The Fortress will offer unprecedented levels of service, extraordinary innovation, attention to detail and a unique blend of Old Ceylon with Modern Asia. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- The Fortress Hotel Koggala
- Fortress Hotel Galle
- Fortress Galle
- Fortress Sri Lanka
- The Fortress Sri Lanka/Koggala