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“Perfect in every way, didn't want to leave”
Review of The Fortress

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The Fortress
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Koggala
Certificate of Excellence
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
21 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Perfect in every way, didn't want to leave”
Reviewed 7 September 2010

Upon arrival after an exhaustive amount of travel; plane from London and the long transfer by bus from the airport, we arrived at the gates of The Fortress. Thinking that we were in Galle, we still were another 10 mins drive from there. After we were brought champagne on arrival, we were brought around on a quick look of the facilities which included a spa, gym, bar, restaurants, outdoor pizza oven, gift shop, computer room, dvd and book library and finally to our room where our bags were already brought. We were in heaven, a beautiful room with a huge bed, a spacious balcony overlooking the ocean and an open plan bathroom. I loved the shower which could easily fit 6 people, and my wife fell in love with the jacuzzi bathtub. I loved the nicely stocked fridge in the room, while my remote control hoarding wife loved the tv, dvd, ipod and lights at the push of a button.
The staff were all terribly polite and could not be faulted in any way, they all have basic english at least and they try their hardest to look after you.
We both ate breakfast and dinner there every day and lunch most days if we were not on an excursion. The food was very varied and absolutely gorgeous, we wanted to try everything we could from Sri Lanka and during our 9 day stay we managed most things on the menu; all exquisite and tantalizing including curry for breakfast if you like.
We sat by the pool for the beginning days to recover from our journey. It is windy for most of the time and the sea is too rough to swim in but the hotel pool is absolutely huge and be wary that the sun is still strong, about 27 -31 degrees in August.
We went by tuk-tuk into Galle and our driver ended up being our well informed guide for our stay. We used him for everywhere we went including an elephant safari. The tuk-tuk drivers will be down on the beach looking for customers. They are stationed outside the front doors of The Fortress and pay a commission for the privilege.
Our driver was called Kushan and he was kind enough to bring us to his home for lunch on our 1 week anniversary of our marriage.
The only fault with the hotel is the price of the spa treatments, if they were cheaper we would have used it much more and sometimes the piped music during meals was terrible, otherwise it was a fantastic place to unwind and it was the saddest we both ever were when we had to leave.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank markbaynes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Nottingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2010

After a long flight and seemingly endless drive we arrived at The Fortress, given lovely refrehing towels and iced tea and informed our room wasn't ready. It was raining and we were seriously thinking we had made a big mistake, was the journey really worth it?
The answer has to be "yes". We were expecting a fortress room but were given one with a sea view and what a view! We could have spent all day laying in that most wonderful of beds just gazing out to sea but then we would have missed out on the fabulous pool and all the other things the hotel had to offer. The room was excellent although we agree the lights can be very frustrating at times and I really enjoyed the breakfast, egg hoppers-yum!
However, like many previous reviewers we did feel the price of food and drink was taking the mickey somewhat. Also we felt that although the food appeared to be very nice we wanted to experience life outside the hotel.
We got in touch with a wonderful tuk tuk driver called Dillion (mobile no 094778227597)
and he picked us up every night, took us to a shop to buy very cheap supplies of lion beer, then into Unawatuna to a variety of resturants. He waited for us to finish then drove us back to the hotel.
He also took us to Galle and showed us the sights and arranged an amazing trip to Kandy taking in the Elephant Orphanage, a spice garden, the Botanic gardens, the Temple at Kandy. He arranged the over night stop in a hotel and then back via a tea plantation, 'Small England' and various waterfalls and fantastic views.
We had an air conditioned minibus, a driver and Dillion as a guide. To be reccomended. We felt completely at ease with him and knew we were being looked after at all times.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank tass0249
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
30 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2010

A new build hotel in 2006, about 10min by tuk-tuk from Thalpe away from Galle, this visually striking and physically large hotel was styled in the old fashion but built to house innumerable couples in up-to-the-minute luxurious fashion.

We had supper here and this definitely was the 20 yr old’s pick of the hotels from a food, sophistication and ambiance perspective. A little more pricey than the Amangalle (the tuk-tuk drivers commented on how expensive it was….) and had a designer wanabee clientele to match. Fabulous pool layout, this is a couple’s hotel: there were a few families with young children but I couldn’t see what the attraction was given the overall lack of intimacy exuded by the construction. I felt it was a little more welcoming than Terminal 5 at Heathrow (T5 is a fantastic, sophisticated building, but by definition, remote). Acres of wood and polished stone in the Fortress: could be anywhere. It happens to be in Sri Lanka.

Worth a visit if only to understand why, as a family, you would want to stay in a villa (if you can).

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank TFJ_301J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
110 reviews
100 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 September 2010

We stayed in a beach rooms- amazing rooms! The hotel is nicely located with a huge swiming pool.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ACandEdM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Malton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 August 2010

We have just returned from our trip to southern Sri Lanka where, after spending 5 nights at the Galle Fort hotel we spent 4 nights here at the Fortress. The car from the Fort took about 30 minutes to get to Koggala and on arrival, a big bell was rung to announce us to the staff. I’m always a fan of the big entrance and this is a touch I will never tire of!

Our bags were taken care of and we were seated and brought a drink and a refreshing towel. Then a very kind man informed us that we had been upgraded from the basic room to a Sea View – a good way to start! After a guided tour of the facility, we were left to enjoy the room.

And what a room.

Quite simply the most ridiculously big bed I’ve ever seen and oh my, it was comfortable. The bathroom had two vanity units, a beautiful free-standing bath, Buck Rogers toilet and huge shower. Whereas the Galle Fort was about colonial style, this was about unbridled luxury. A large, comfortable seating area adjacent to the balcony overlooking the Andaman Sea, complimented by a large flat screen TV and Bose sound system with an iPod dock. I removed the supplied iPod and simply inserted my own and it is so nice to be able to play your own music easily and through a quality system. The TV had a range of channels, not that you’ll be using it much. Happily, they had ESPN so I was able to watch in incredulity as Newcastle humped Villa 6-0; never a better venue to enjoy such a result! A well-stocked mini bar, fridge and tea-making facilities rounded off a stunning environment.

The staff were uniformly wonderful. Friendly and attentive and never, ever without a smile for you. The location is beautiful and no words can truly represent what being there is like. Having a swim in the lovely pool, looking out to the sea and seeing turtles popping to the surface every now and then is about as good as it gets. The pool, as you will see from photos, has lovely little lights on the floor and looks amazing at night. Even more so when we had dinner one night in the pool! Feet, table and chairs all under the lovely warm water – simply magical. Not sure what the complaints about 'danger' are; I noticed maybe half a dozen missing mosaic tiles and how people have managed to cut themselves is beyond me!

Buffet nights were 4250RUP per head (again, with the ++ of appx. 25%) and you could eat for less if so desired. Wines started at 3000RUP and beer from 400RUP. The food was excellent with some of the best tuna I have ever tasted and the Colonel (a lime sorbet with vodka) will live long in the memory. Room service was quick and almost identically priced. Breakfast (included) was a full spread and first rate – with the added bonus of the hotel’s crow and squirrel populations waging daily battle for the scraps!

We used the spa, which was serenity personified. They also have a steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi which appeared to be available to use free of charge. Opposite the enormous gate entrance is a highly reliable and good tuk-tuk/van/car service, which we used to visit a local turtle hatchery, spice garden, Lake Koggala and a tea plantation for 1500RUP (driver only). Our driver was lovely and really informative and we would definitely recommend them.

The Fortress is an idyllic location to relax in. If we are ever in that neck of the woods, we wouldn’t hesitate to return here. Oh, and having the hotel’s bag tag on our luggage may have been why we got upgraded to Business class at the airport!

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank toweliechaos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, England
Level Contributor
38 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2010

Is it a cool boutique hotel? Well why does it have karaoke-style pub singers in the evenings? Is it for families? Or for honeymooners? Or older couples? They were all there at the Fortress when we were there, probably wondering the same thing. Note: the beach is unswimmable during the European summer months, so don't expect it. The hotel is a good solid 20 minutes from Galle, a little bit out on a limb. Nice staff and great rooms and all that but given my time again I would stay in Galle.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank pippywee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sheffield
Level Contributor
56 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 August 2010

We are a family of four with two teenage children,and have just returned from a two week stay at The Fortress.We flew direct to Colombo,then transferred direct to the hotel.This transfer is arduous after a long flight from the UK,along a dangerous main road that skirts the Island,with seemingly no rules,and it takes a minimum of four hours!We would not reccommend that you do this on arrival,but stay in a hotel south of the capital on the first night.Similarly,a 5am start and the same trip back does not settle you well for the long flight home!
But what of the hotel? First impressions are excellent,a very welcome welcoming drink after that journey,and attentive staff who whisk you to your well-appointed rooms.The rooms are spacious and minimal in design,with Bose sound systems,complimentary I-pod shuffle to use during your stay,40 inch flat screen TV,and the largest shower I have ever seen! We too had problems with the over-engineered lighting system,but got the hang of it by day three! The large number of staff are attentive and courteous,and do not seem to be looking for tips all the time,which was refreshing to find.There does not appear to be a distinct main desk,but rather an attended station close to the dining area,and helpful staff in the hotel gift shop.The pool area is huge,with a large 50 m rectangular pool as the centre-piece,and two much smaller pools attached.Here,however, a major problem lies.The pool floor and sides are made of sheets of 1" square glass tiles,and large numbers of them are cracked,missing,or dislodged.On several days in our second week,children were cut by their jagged edges,and my own teenage daughter was badly cut on her hand,requiring emergency treatment by myself.The hotel first aid kit that arrived had nothing of use in at atall,and it was only due to the fortune of a guest having some steri-strips that I was able to fashion a decent dressing to the wound,which had I been anywhere else in the world,I would have had sutured.Whilst the attentive staff by the pool genuinely appeared concerned,less could be said of the day manager,who at times seemed aloof,and not once offered an apology for the state of the pool tiles,despite subsequently being pointed out by other guests also.
The food? Mostly buffet-syle fayre as presented by your average four star hotel.Breakfasts became boring and predictable, dinners very average and so-so after the first week-mostly "themed" nights-Sri-Lankan,Italian,Indian,etc, but very unimaginative and not memorable atall.
The small gym is well-equipped,though not attended all the time,but they provide plenty of water and towels,etc.There is a small selection of DVDs to borrow in the hotel library,and quite a wide selection of books too.
We availed ourselves of the excellent spa,and would recommend it highly!
The hotel is 17Km from Galle,and 40 mins by tuk-tuk from outside the hotel.There is an interesting museum that we visited directly across the road,along with the house that a famous Sri-Lankan author(Martin Wickramasinghe) once lived in.It is worth a visit for a couple of hours.There really isn't much else immediately outside the hotel, but the bank across the road gives the best rates for money exchange(not the hotel).The tuk-tuk drivers outside the hotel are an irritation,as you are hassled from the moment you set foot outside the large gates.You will pay 4-5 times more to get into Galle than the locals,but make sure you set the price before you set off! Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site-we visited it three times in two weeks,and searched for interesting things to see and do.There really isn't much there ,you get quite a bit of hassle from people trying to extort money from you,and the centre of the town in all honesty is a bit of a dump,once you've seen the Fort and walked the walls at sunset.
Other things to do? -we had a fantastic day trip to Yala Park to see leopards,elephants,monkeys,etc,and that was well worth the money paid(£250 for four,from the Hotel).The trip includes a visit to a huge Temple,and a blow-hole in the rocks on the coast(not really that impressive!).
There is also a tea plantation 15 mins away which produces white tea-a delicacy that costs around$1400 a kilo-so you end up buying a few grammes and contributing further to the local economy! But,the tour is good and you learn a lot about tea production.

All in all? It is supposed to be a member of the Small Leading Hotels of The World -having stayed in one or two-I think it is stretching it a bit for it to be a member just yet.
Full marks to most of the staff-thay genuinely seem to want you to enjoy your stay there and relax.
Would I go back again?-not until they get the promised main road built from Colombo to the east of the island ,which should cut the journey time in half ,and also once they get the issues with the pool sorted-it is dangerous!
Five star?-not quite.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank traveldoc40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Fortress

Property: The Fortress
Address: Route A2, Matara Road, Koggala 82104, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Region: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Koggala
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Koggala
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:5 star — The Fortress 5*
Number of rooms: 53
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 
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Also Known As:
The Fortress Hotel Koggala
Fortress Hotel Galle
Fortress Galle
Fortress Sri Lanka
The Fortress Sri Lanka/Koggala

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