— Please tell us a bit about the history of Maya Tangalle and its restoration.
When I discovered it in 2004, it was a dilapidated old Colonial bungalow dating from the late 19th to early 20th century. It features an architecture very typical of that era, with Dutch and British influences and was originally owned by a very high ranking family that had presided over the village. In a way, it’s quite grand to the village.
I wanted holiday guests to experience staying in a lovingly restored heritage property. You can go to so many places and stay in nice, modern villas, but there is something unique and special about staying in a building that is 120 years old, yet doesn’t lack any of the modern creature comforts.”
— Maya Tangalle pool
— What was your inspiration to buy a property in Sri Lanka?
And even now, when you first look at it through the gate, it really is quite amazing to have that open expanse. There is an immediate impact. Although we’ve tidied up the garden, we’ve pretty much left it as it was. It’s really unspoiled and it leads onto these paddy fields which go as far as the eye can see. There’s no fence or obstruction around Maya, it’s just miles and miles of green expanse. It’s quite stunning.”
— Maya bathroom
— Together with a Sri Lankan architect you restored Maya. What was your approach to the design?
The other key thing was breaking the mold and putting more than just old, lovely Colonial pieces in it, which was a bit boring to me. I turned the tables and decided to make the old house very contemporary. There’s so much warmth there because it’s mixed up just a bit with some lovely old pieces scattered around here and there, which stops the house from being too modern. A lot of our holiday guests have found it very refreshing because it’s an unexpected surprise.”
— Please tell us a bit about the rooms and facilities at Maya.
The bedrooms and bathrooms in the new wing are bigger and the bathrooms also open onto the courtyard. You can feel as though you’re showering with nature. However all of the rooms open to a private courtyard so you get the feeling that the room and the courtyard are one.
There’s a large open pavilion adjacent to the swimming pool, a dining table that seats 12, lounging sofas and a music system. There is another dining room in the old house, which opens to a veranda with its own music system, DVDs, and board games.
We have 11 staff, which includes two security guards, three gardeners and six house staff. The guests always comment about what a good staff we have. They leave happy because the staff has taken great care of them during their. I’m very lucky to have such a great team.”
— Exterior seating area
— What are some of the typical dishes you serve and how would you describe the cuisine?
He also makes very good Thai food like deep fried squid with spring onions, chili chicken salad with orange sauce, Thai grilled chicken with rice and beans, fish baked in banana leaf, pan fried yellow fin tuna or beefsteak medallions with red wine sauce and mustard mash.
For dessert we offer things like chili cinnamon chocolate pudding or home made ice cream.”
— Maya bedroom