Waraka Udawalawe by Thema Collection: Where Luxury Meets Sustainability

By Sara Pathirana

Thema Collection has unveiled its latest eco-luxury retreat, Waraka Udawalawe, adding a 13th property to their vibrant portfolio. Known for their innovative approach to travel and tourism in Sri Lanka, Thema Collection continues to set new standards with this unique and immersive experience.

Located in the heart of Udawalawe, Waraka Udawalawe offers a tranquil escape that seamlessly integrates with its natural surroundings. This retreat is designed to provide an eco-conscious and luxurious stay, reflecting the ethos of sustainable tourism that Thema Collection champions.

Your journey to Waraka Udawalawe begins with a drive to the Sabaragamuwa province, renowned for its rich wildlife, particularly elephants. A highlight of the launch event included a visit to the Elephant Transit Home, also known as Eth Athuru Sevana. This facility rehabilitates young elephants before their release back into the wild. Witnessing young calves being bottle-fed, including a special elephant named Amie, underscores Thema Collection’s commitment to wildlife conservation.

Upon arriving at Waraka Udawalawe, you’ll be greeted by a lush grove of jackfruit trees, from which the resort takes its name (“Waraka” means jackfruit in Sinhala). The resort features 10 deluxe rooms and two suites, all designed with eco-consciousness in mind. The decor blends natural hues and elements inspired by the jackfruit, creating a tropical ambiance that reflects the verdant environment outside. The resort’s use of upcycled materials, such as old electricity poles and concrete pillars, gives the space a rustic yet refined feel.

The heart of Waraka Udawalawe is its open-air restaurant, which overlooks a garden and the pool. Here, you can enjoy a delightful array of Sri Lankan and Western dishes, thoughtfully prepared by skilled chefs. The resort also emphasizes wellness with a variety of holistic experiences, ensuring guests feel rejuvenated by the end of their stay.

Waraka Udawalawe places a strong emphasis on local empowerment and community involvement. Nearly 50% of the staff are recruited from nearby areas, and local community members are engaged in the resort’s operations, from providing safari jeeps to operating tuk-tuks for nearby travel. This approach enhances the guest experience while supporting the local economy and fostering a symbiotic relationship between the resort and the community.

Sustainability is deeply ingrained in the ethos of Waraka Udawalawe. The resort’s extensive in-house solar farm generates 80% of its energy requirements, significantly reducing its carbon footprint. The Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Resilience Initiative (BERI) fosters research and collaboration for sustainable coexistence between ecosystems and communities, further highlighting the resort’s dedication to preserving the natural environment and promoting sustainable tourism.

The launch event was a splendid affair, attended by media representatives and travel agents. The site where Waraka Hotel now stands was initially bare except for around 20 or 21 jackfruit trees. Embracing an eco-friendly approach, the developers decided to preserve these trees and incorporate them into the property’s theme. The event was marked by the planting of another jack tree sapling, bringing the total to 21 trees on the property. The event was graced by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka, Katsuki Kotaro.

Waraka Udawalawe aims to be the premier hotel in the Udawalawe region, targeting guests looking for high-quality amenities and facilities. Its location makes it an ideal transit spot for safari enthusiasts. Guests can enjoy various activities such as kayaking, bicycle rides, and a range of holistic experiences. Additionally, the hotel offers a naturalistic experience and education on the elephant-human conflict.

Reflecting on your stay at Waraka Udawalawe, you will realize the profound impact that thoughtful and sustainable tourism can have. The resort not only offers a luxurious escape but also promotes environmental conservation and supports local communities. Waraka Udawalawe is more than just a destination; it exemplifies the power of sustainable tourism and the beauty of Sri Lanka’s natural landscapes. For a unique and meaningful escape, this eco-luxury retreat is a must-visit.

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