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“A perfect wedding destination”

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Vivanta by Taj - Bentota
Ranked #3 of 23 Hotels in Bentota
Certificate of Excellence
yorkshire
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A perfect wedding destination”
Reviewed 3 April 2010

We decided on the Taj Exotica because we wanted to get married in Sri Lanka and this looked like the best hotel on the island to us. We were certainly right with our choice in our opinion.

We arrived at the airport and were picked up and driven to the hotel. The hotel is actually only about 40 miles from the hotel but due to the amount of traffic on the roads the journey was about 2 ½ hours. Be prepared for some ‘mad’ driving, cars weave in and out without a care in the world, and the air con is definitely welcome. However on our way back to the airport it only took about an hour because it was 4.30am.

When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by very friendly staff, some lovely orchid necklaces and a cool face towel as it was about 35 degrees. Due to our room not being ready we were asked to wait in the bar area for 10 minutes where we were given a complimentary glass of ice tea. On arrival in our room (superior sea view room 412) we were very pleased. Yes the bathrooms could do with an update and I suppose the walls could do with a new lick of paint but they are very clean. The bed was massive and very comfortable and we had a decent sized balcony. My parents booked the same level room but were on level 5, their room was about half the size of ours but still clean.

We were sent a complimentary bottle of wine and fruit one afternoon and complimentary fruit on another. The food in the restaurant was lovely, and there was plenty of choice. They had a mixture of different food inside and had a fresh cooked section outside (the waffles for breakfast were fantastic!). However, I don’t mean to stereotype but the Germans and Russians at dinner were so rude! Myself and my husband would often play the game of ‘hold the door open for them and see how many acknowledge your generosity’, it was often zero, very rarely even looked at! But we enjoyed playing the game anyway just to have our beliefs reinforced!

There were plenty of sunbeds around the pool and the garden. It looked pretty busy towards the end of our stay though so I am not sure what it would be like when the hotel is at its busiest. The pool boys will do anything they can though to move a bed into your desired location if possible. The swim up bar is fantastic. Just make sure you get up early for the sunbeds, if you haven’t got a bed by 10am there’s a chance you might be in a bad place sheltered under the trees, away from the sun.

We ate out of the hotel a couple of times. We went to the Golden Grill which I highly recommend as the food was cheap but delicious (we had steak, was great!), a short Tuk-tuk drive away. We went and had a lunch time pizza from the hotel next door along the beach and we also had a fish meal from the Wunderbar (go and see their baby turtles), however the Wunderbar was very expensive. We originally chose steak only to be told it was not in stock when we arrived (despite choosing our food 3 days earlier), we ended up with very expensive fish, although, tasty, it came complete with head still attached! Not something were used to. The milkshakes were great though.

Chandrika is the wedding co-ordinator at the Taj and she is fantastic. She went out of her way to help up on the run up to our wedding, on the day (catering to out last minute changes, awkward pair that we were!) and even carried out various requests we made once we had returned to the UK. We did want the wedding on the actual beach and I was devastated when we were advised once there not to do this. We were having a DVD of the wedding made and due to the sound of the waves you would not have heard a thing, also the flower stand would not be that stable with the wind coming off the sea!! We had the wedding on the verge of the gardens and the beach. It was a gorgeous setting and I absolutely agree with Chandrika, having heard extracts of video recordings from the beach that we made with our video camera, you couldn’t hear anything. The DVD and pictures are just as good as I thought they would be. The laundry service in the hotel was excellent and made a great job with my wedding dress and the grooms outfit. A simple phone call to reception arranged this and the cost was very low.

We were given a free room upgrade the night after our wedding to what we were told by the bell boy was the hotels 2nd best room and it was only because their best was still occupied! It was more like a house than a hotel room so I would have loved to see their top room!

We went on the Kandy trip to see the gardens, elephants, tea plant etc. Although our Thomas Cook rep had this trip on his list at our initial induction we managed to get it approx 35% cheaper from a man called Nuwan, one of the many people who operate just outside the hotel on the beach. It was a great trip because of the elephants and my absolute love of them but it is all very commercialised and everyone wants tips for the slightest thing. My biggest tip for you is to take lots of 100 rupee notes with you otherwise they will just take the 1000! When at the elephant orphanage don’t fall into the trap we did of having the photos taken by the first guy and him then saying ‘1000 please’. We thought it was the rate so handed it over, only later to find if we had given him 100 or 200 he would have taken it!

As well as being a great trip it was also our most frustrating as Nuwan took us on a number of detours on the way, such as looking at rubber tress, where a random lady appeared asking for money. We handed over a 100. Next to pineapple tasting, again more money spent. Then we arrived at the orphanage where the second we got out of the car a man appeared, shoved bananas in our hands, then demanded 400 rupees. We then went to the Millenium orphanage, paid our entry, but then was harassed for the next 20 mins into giving over yet MORE money. I know Sri Lankans are poor but this was becoming too much. Finally Nuwan asked if we wanted to look at some Sri Lankan spices, we agreed, but what followed was a 50 minute sale pitch, culminating in a man trying to make us spend almost £150 (!) on spices we didn’t need or want, and then struggling to take ‘NO’ for an answer when I explained all our money had been spent on other people who had also spent the day asking us for money.

So the biggest advice here is if/when you take any trips make sure you get money changed at reception (theres always someone there, also to change travellers cheques) into 50’s or 100’s, otherwise you will find yourself handing over 1000 rupee notes (approx £6) for even the smallest thing.

All in all, in our opinion, if you have chosen to go to this hotel you have made a fab choice. If you possibly need anymore info or would like some pictures please message me and I will be happy to help.

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank ellefon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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stamford
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 April 2010

upon arrival at the taj exotica we waited over 1 hour to be checked in to our room. The front desk staff are not so helpful.

We stayed B&B as we prefer to eat out and experience culture. We were SOoooo happy we made this choice as we would prefer to give our monies to locals who seek tourism rather than the over priced repetitive hotel buffet.

You must contact NANDANA restaurant owner of Dias SISLIA tuk tuk drivers will know this restaurant. He has 5 tables in the most serene setting and it is on a lake. He also has a catermaran and you go out to watch the sunset sat on a table on the catamaran. He has the most beutiful family and the food he makes is outstanding michelin starred. You call him and tell him what you would like to eat. Nandana made our holiday even providing our own music on our last evening. He also showed us around the surrounding villages and took us to see elephants. Use Suji as your tuk tuk driver. The hotel is nice pool v good just be prepared for a culture change. Very glad we went. I used [--] for our airport transfer less than half the price of tour operater's prices.

The only downside to the hotel are the front line staff who do not want you to spend money outside the hotel grounds.

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank karachick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Norwich
Level Contributor
152 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 173 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2010

We stayed here for 6 nights after a Kuoni tour. We had an Orchid room which was really nice but we ended up at the end nearest the railway - however, I wear earplugs so it didn't really bother me.
The rooms seem to be cleaned twice a day or something as there was always people on our corridor. We had a complimentary bottle of really nice wine and fruit, plus canapes were brought some evenings too. Also they give you 4 complimentary bottles of water and if you take them in the morning, they will be replensihed at turn-down.
The bathroom was disappointing as it really was on it's last legs - although very clean, it really needed stripping out and redoing (the bath started to de-laminate one day!)
The bed was strange as well - although a king-size, the mattress acted like a water-bed - every movement my husband made left me bouncing up and down. It affected how much sleep we both got.
Service was generally really good. It was only in the bar it was really slow (especially when there was hardly anyone there) However, we found similar service all over Sri Lanka so it wasn't unique to the Taj.
We used the laundry service 3 times - excellent and reasonable
The buffet breakfast was probably the best we had in all the hotels we stayed and the waiters there were really friendly and helpful.
The pool and sunbeds were excellent - we had a fantastic view along the coast. We went down to the beach a few times - bit choppy but lovely.
The location of the hotel is also good - at the end of the road. There was a Carnival on halfway down the road which must have affected the Serendib next door and the Bentota Beach nearby. It seemed to go on quite late at night (seemed really only locals went to it)
The bit that was missing was nightlife - not only in the Taj but anywhere in Bentota.
We ate in Susanthas (3 other tables full) and the Golden Grill 4 times - really good food (ranged from about 4 tables to 10 tables full). Looked at Aida (one couple in) and ate in the Taj's chinese - excellent by the way (2 other couples).
We were last in the Taj's bar one night at 11.30 and generally there was half a dozen couples in there after 10.30 - and the hotel was full.
It seemed similar in the other hotels - we just don't know where people went at night, or if they just went to bed early.
This took the edge off the holiday as we like to socialise.
By the way - change your money in the Taj as had better rates than the banks

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank LockyNorwich
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Zealand
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 March 2010

My wife and I had a lovely stay at the Taj. We stayed in a seaview room, and it was beautiful. The room was kinda tired, but good enough for what we wanted. We had a lovely massage at the spa, and the staff were excellent in making us feel comfortable. Almost every staff member we walked past said hello, which made the stay nicer. We took a train to Galle for a total of 200 rupees return, which was a nicer way to see a bit more of Sri Lanka. The train station is only a few hundred metres from the hotel. The beach was the highlight of our stay - lovely warm waters, good waves... I loved it. The only problem we had with the hotel was that they said in their book in the hotel room that they accepted Diners Club card, so when we went to pay with it (after a spa treatment each, room service and food put onto our bill) the rude man told us we couldn't pay with it, and had to find another way to pay. Quite difficult situation which wasnt helped by the poor attitude of the last guy we would've been in contact with at the hotel. Otherwise, we enjoyed the stay, the location, and the beach. Would love to go back again - with a different credit card I might add!

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank bobinthebottle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 March 2010

After a long flight to Colombo, we embarked on a next long journey from the airport to the hotel (3.5hrs). When we reached the hotel, it was very beautiful and very refreshing. We had booked for a Orchid room, which included a lot of ameneties, special service desk etc.. But when we got there, we got the normal check-in. The room was small for a Premium room and the Balcony had a view of the beach and the next door neighbours.
The restaurants were ok, but more places to eat just outside the hotel and reasonable price. The hotel ameneties were nothing major, basic and good. The Palms restaurant does buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with indoor and outdoor sitting. Pretty decent choice of selection.
The travel desk is really good and they have a notice board in the lift lobby with the tours, packages and prices. The tour from the hotel is cheaper and the drivers have a good knowlede about the places. The hotel has a adjacent beach with private enterance to the hotel, nice and clean. But take a car and go some other place... to avoid unnecessary local interferance. The hotel boasts JIVA spa, but the prices are very expensive. Try out other spas in the vicinity. There is a Ayurvedic spa located adjacent to the hotel compund. Worth checking it out.
The best part of the hotel was the sunrise and sunset view from the rooms.
The hotel could do better with their bathrooms, I guess its a normal thing with TAJ. We have stayed with 3 other Taj properties, and found less space and very ordinary toileteries and ameneties. The Bathroom can fit one, keeping in mind that it was a Orchid Room. We had to have constant attendance from the house keeping to keep the damp smell out of the bathroom. Later on discovered that since most of the furniture and flooring is made up of wood, the tropical weather affects it and makes it let out a damp smell.
For the price you are paying and the distance, it would be helpful to check out other hotels in Galle area eg. Galle fort hotel. The drive time from Galle to Bentota is only 45mins. If you do have to stay in this hotel property, I would suggest you go for a Standard Room and spend the rest on something else.
ALL IN ALL IT'S NOT WORTH SPENDING YOUR MONEY ON.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank adviseguru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
uk
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 February 2010

Spent 2 weeks here and despite some negative comments on this site we had an excellent holiday. The staff were efficient and welcoming and the hotel location was superb. We used only 2 of the 3 restaurants and these were of a high standard - we did not use the buffet style restaurant as it's not our style. Our room was delightful with 2 balconies overlooking the beach. Others have commented about the noisy swimming pool, all I can say is that it was quiet when we were there in February, and we were able to get sunbeds on the grassy area as late as 09.30.
The beaches were large clean and mainly empty, but beware of the tides when swimming. I was told by the Manager that these tides claimed an average of 2 people per month along the 2 mile beach, usually people who ignored the signs and flags or thought they were strong swimmers. The Taj seems to be the only hotel on the beach that employs permanent life guards.
I would confirm the finding of other people on this site that the Golden Grill is a good alternative to the hotel restaurants. They will also sell you a decent Chilean wine (if you ask quietly) for ca.£10, whereas the local wine shop will charge you double this. Unfortunately It takes ca. 3 hours to travel from the airport to the Taj, unless you travel late at night or early morning. There is a new Colombo by-pass being built and should be ready for late 2011

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank johnvb1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JORDAN
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 February 2010

first of all hi guys its nice to be amember here, when we got to the hotel they asked us to wait for 10 mins coz our room was not ready but we stayed for maybe 30 -45 mins me and my husband were really tiered and upset we just got to srilanka and we didnt know wt to expect coz when u see the ppl in the streets and there simple lives u dont think ur gonna find a good hotel there, but i liked the hotel it was nice and clean the room was cleaned on daily base the staff was very nice the food was ok they didnt hv that much veraity but it was good maybe its coz im a vegetarian i didnt find much to eat.
the view was owsome from our suite i loved it we had a jacuzzi our suite was big and with a huge balconi we could see the whole beach from it and the trees ohhhhhhh it was amazing . we were surprised coz we thought that its gonna be hot but the weather was great and it even rained while we were swimming i loved the feeling of it . in srilanka where ever u go its green and i advice u to go on the river trip in the boat it was amazing we loved it we saw all kinds of animales and birds .we went also to a place there were elephents and i tuched them they were in a river but its not in bentota it was in kandy . and we went to cultural festival we also liked it and we went to bothas castle i dont know wt to call it but it was nice u can feel the power of believing or u can say respect to smthn or someone there all ppl are praying it was humbuling i know im not a bothiest but i praied over there from all my heart it was avery nice peacfull feeling . and would i go back to sri lanka and do all this again yup ill do it i would love to . but be carful from the ants there me and my husband we were taking a pic and we were close to asmall wall and then we got attaced by the ants and we got bitten by them it hurts and i was going crazy loool when i look at it now its funny hhhhhhhhhh and u got to keep on giving the staff there tips alot of tips they will be happy to help u more.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank ABBMASS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Vivanta by Taj - Bentota

Property: Vivanta by Taj - Bentota
Address: National Holiday Resort, Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Region: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Bentota
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Bentota
#2 Luxury Hotel in Bentota
#3 Spa Hotel in Bentota
#3 Romantic Hotel in Bentota
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Bentota
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Vivanta by Taj - Bentota 5*
Number of rooms: 160
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sri Lanka is referred to as a ‘small miracle,’ for despite the island’s relatively small size, its natural wonders and beauty are in abundance. Vivanta by Taj – Bentota is located on the south west coast of Sri Lanka. The hotel lies over a lush hill that overlooks the Indian Ocean. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Vivanta By Taj - Bentota Hotel Bentota
Taj Exotica Hotel Bentota
Bentota Taj Exotica Hotel
Taj Exotica Sri Lanka
Taj Exotica Srilanka
Taj Exotica Bentota

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