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.
- 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