How I came to discover Theva Residency, a heavenly haven, nestled high up in the hills above Kandy, is really the perfect example of how serendipity has been at work in my life ever since I decided to move to Sri Lanka (and perhaps even before I knew it myself!). And it really is the perfect example of how the universe answers your prayers at the very moment you need them answered the most.
I'll be honest. I was frustrated. Pacing up and down in a little bungalow we had rented in Kandy, lamenting the lack of hot water, electricity and the right ingredients and motivation to make myself a decent green smoothie. What is your problem, girl? I kept asking myself. You've got jungle on every side of you! It's a balmy 30 degrees and there's fruit everywhere. In the end, I decided it was the lack of windows. There was just no view, man!
If there's one thing I crave more than anything it is wide open spaces. I love to watch the sun rise and set over oceans and valleys. I like to go for long drives on winding roads (in fact, it is how my mum used to calm me down whenever I was distressed as a little girl). I like to swim or go for a run where there's nothing but me and the horizon.
I think there's something magical about seeing yourself "in context". That is, absolutely miniature in comparison to the earth, the sky, the universe and beyond! When I can really see everything out there, my tiny problems disappear and I'm comforted by the vastness of it all. I can just slip back into eternity for a while. Call it mindfulness meditation. Call it 'perspective'. Call it what you will... but I need open spaces. Otherwise I start behaving like a trapped animal.
That's when the universe brought me a new friend in Kandy – Dheeshana Ameresekere, who just happens to be the visionary behind Theva Residency and Theva Cuisine. "Come on up and stay in the hills", she said. And there you have it – my prayers were answered! And so, a few days later, with bloodshot eyes and greasy hair, I emerged worn and weary from a tuk-tuk and stepped into the foyer of Theva Residency. And hallelujah friends! I felt instantly soothed.
The first thing that struck me was the quiet and the cool breeze as it drifted over the hills of Hantana, high above the heat and (delightfully fun!) chaos of Kandy town. Then there was the view. It feels like you could reach out and touch the clouds as you're looking down the valley from heavenly heights. At last, I was in my element.
We enjoyed an incredible lunch at the hotel's restaurant, Theva Cuisine, sampling 17 Sri Lankan dishes and an Award-winning Arrack cocktail which you simply must try. The best part? 15 of those dishes were vegan – yes! This is why I love Sri Lankan curries! Now, it's rare to find a kitchen that does authentic Sri Lankan food and international cuisine so beautifully, but the chefs at Theva really deserve a special mention for their skills! Everything is made from scratch and presented in truly artistic fashion from the chocolates to the ice cream to the breakfast preserves (think Strawberry Watermelon, Pineapple Raisin and the best Orange Marmalade I think I've ever tasted – sorry Dad!).
I could go on forever describing the food, but there were also some other little touches that made me so incredible happy. Luscious Spa Ceylon products, for example – especially nice when you haven't had a hot shower in over a week! Another pleasant surprise was the unique tea selection. Theva Residency was the only place I've stayed so far that provided complimentary herbal teas in the room. In a country famous for it's rich black tea, it is rare to come across my favourite infusions like chamomile or peppermint without a hefty dose of Ceylon tea to kick you in the butt. In addition to those, the hotel also offers a selection of Wellness Teas from Sri Lanka's tea-growing heart. Pretty happy about that! So it was with great pleasure that my darling and I enjoyed a stormy sunset over herbal teas and handmade chocolates.
I was revived! But, it wasn't only the little luxuries that lifted my spirits at Theva Residency. It was also the serendipitous meeting with it's intriguing and charismatic owner and the chance to chat, albeit briefly, with her about the things we both find enchanting – books, hatha yoga, spiritual counselling, parallel universes, wolves, religion, mythology and the meaning of life! You know... the usual.
There's nothing like a rambling conversation in the clouds with a kindred spirit to get the mind and soul out of a rut. And a blissful night's sleep, of course!
Take me there...
Theva Residency & Theva Cuisine
Off Upper Tank Road, off Circular Road 2
Hantana, Kandy, Sri Lanka