As a leading hotelier, second-generation tea mogul, director of SriLankan Airlines, and one of the founders of the Sri Lankan Tourism Alliance, he is in the perfect position to tell you just why his country should be your next must-visit destination.
Malik Fernando, the man behind the magic of Resplendent Ceylon, a clutch of top-of-the-line boutique resorts in Sri Lanka, wears many hats. This stems from his many life experiences.
From growing up on the Dilmah Tea estates that his father Merrill J Fernando developed, to repurposing colonial bungalows as boutique stays that celebrated the soul of Ceylon. From being associated with Relais & Chateaux and winning hearts of world travellers with his world-class hospitality to rethinking what luxury really means to a tourist. From being a director on the country’s national air carrier to bringing together the tourism community in an alliance that pushes the envelope for rebranding Sri Lanka as a desirable destination.
When asked how Sri Lanka is differentiated from India in terms of offerings, he explains that SL is a continent worth of delights in a very contained space, with a lot of different experiences, cultures, climates, beaches, highland resorts, etc but easily accessible in a shorter time.
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Despite the recent forex crisis beleaguering the country, Fernando is confident that it’s only a matter of time for the small economy to flip and grow. Meanwhile, Fernando and other Sri Lankan hoteliers, who believe that Sri Lanka has been undersold as a cheap destination hitherto, are trying to change this perception among international travellers. He believes that the new luxury-seeking tourist isn’t looking for a 600-room hotel with caviar, but distinctive and charming experiences.
Fernando speaks passionately about his new properties that will soon be ready to welcome visitors, each one unique like the others from the Resplendent Ceylon stable, be it a private island resort or a treetop getaway 20 metres above the ground in a lush forest. And, as he puts it, the country is so accessible to Indian travellers, that you could ‘plan to go to Sri Lanka at Friday lunch and by dinner you can be there!’