TD Conversations: Malik Fernando, Managing Director, Resplendent Ceylon

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.

Malik fernando, a powerful advocate for sri lanka as a travel destination. Images: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Malik Fernando, a powerful advocate for Sri Lanka as a travel destination. Images: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.

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.  

A man of many hats and talents, malik fernando is working to take the sri lankan tourism industry forward along with his own brand, resplendent ceylon. Image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
A man of many hats and talents, Malik Fernando is working to take the Sri Lankan tourism industry forward along with his own brand, Resplendent Ceylon. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.

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.  

Suggested read: Charter a private jet from India to Sri Lanka’s tea country

Ceylon tea trails comprises five restored historic tea planter residences perched at an altitude of 1,250 metres in hatton, sri lanka’s panoramic ceylon tea region.  image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Ceylon Tea Trails comprises five restored historic tea planter residences perched at an altitude of 1,250 metres in Hatton, Sri Lanka’s panoramic Ceylon tea region. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.
Wild coast at yala is a spectacular luxury tented camp, between jungle and the indian ocean, with 28 cocoon pods in canvas and teak with copper detailing, some with plunge pools.  image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Wild Coast at Yala is a spectacular luxury tented camp, between jungle and the Indian Ocean, with 28 cocoon pods in canvas and teak with copper detailing, some with plunge pools. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.
Cape weligama is a gorgeous cliff-top resort that inhabits 12 tropical acres above the indian ocean on sri lanka’s southern coast, near galle, offering the most sumptuous rooms in sri lanka. Image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Cape Weligama is a gorgeous cliff-top resort that inhabits 12 tropical acres above the Indian Ocean on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, near Galle, offering the most sumptuous rooms in Sri Lanka. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.

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.

High tea served by your personal butler at ceylon tea trails. Image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
High tea served by your personal butler at Ceylon Tea Trails. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.
Guests love the seaside sundowners at wild coast. Image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Guests love the seaside sundowners at Wild Coast. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.
Serene spa experiences at cape weligama, which is designed to give the feel of a welcoming sri lankan village. Image: courtesy resplendent ceylon.
Serene spa experiences at Cape Weligama, which is designed to give the feel of a welcoming Sri Lankan village. Image: Courtesy Resplendent Ceylon.

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!’

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