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Reviewed December 15, 2015

Vivanta by Taj ticked many boxes for us as a luxury holiday. The hotel is understated luxury. Staff go out of their way to make your stay memorable. They understand completely how to maintain a professional distance, yet at the same time make you feel that each guest is special and your every wish is their command. Even the chef came to greet us on arrival. I had emailed the hotel earlier to enquire about the perfect dining experience to celebrate my husband's 40th. They made it clear they would do anything that we required but to be perfectly honest, they didn't need to do anything special because the food was already amazing. We are 'foodies' and love to try foods that represent the country we are staying in. This was more than met, even in the buffet restaurant. I'm not a big dessert person but Sri Lankan desserts are wonderful and I think we sampled the lot. The waiters were able to explain the different health benefits to choosing some of the desserts - particularly the warm traditional desserts. We didn't have the same meal twice and each one was delicious. We even looked forward to breakfast. It's hard to be excited about porridge and omelette, but somehow even these tasted better than anywhere else we've ever been. Coconut porridge and buffalo 'yoghurt' I still crave. The omelette chef cooked to perfection and would bring my omelette to me to save me waiting. Any little thing they can do to make your day perfect they will.

Everywhere is spotless. Our room was beautifully decorated with balloons, flowers, cards and cake for my husband's birthday. I wouldn't say the rooms are overly luxurious. We stayed in a deluxe sea-view room. The rooms are tastefully designed, with a perfect sea side feel, relaxing and spacious enough for a two week stay. We were a little disappointed by the bathroom. After talking with other guests, it would appear that our room had yet to be fully renovated as our bathroom was very different to theirs. At the end of the day it was perfectly adequate but it was in need of an update, to bring it inline with the rest of the room and the hotel. I'm quite sure, if we had complained the hotel would have moved us, but it was not enough for us to complain about. Actually, we also grew to love the sound of the early morning train(s) that run along the back of the hotel. It would sound like they were coming through our room at about 5:30 in the morning. We really like the position of the hotel to the train track and found that this added to the romantic atmosphere of the place. We got some beautiful photos of the train coming around the bend in this stunning jungle setting. Whilst on the subject, you must visit the fish restaurant that is just along the track - fantastic atmosphere, sitting there by candlelight in a simple but beautifully designed 'homely' restaurant with the best fresh tuna imaginable.

I would say the balconies are a little on the small side. Hotels we have stayed in, similar star and price have had balconies that have sunbeds on rather than just enough room for two chairs and a table. However, not really a problem as there was plenty of room by the pool and beach for us to stay there all day. We don't like to be crowded and often use our balcony space but this wasn't necessary as there is enough space between sunbeds around the pool. There is a lovely quiet area, overlooking the beach, which was our preferred place to stay for the day. We liked the fact that we could go and lie out at 7:00 in the morning - beautiful time of the day to see the birds and other wildlife and then take a late breakfast. We rarely then needed to eat again until evening dinner. Around lunch waiters come round with fruit kebabs and are always nearby to call over for drinks throughout the day. There is a lovely selection of fresh fruit juices to choose from.

The beach we absolutely loved - this hotel truly has the best position on the beach, we walked twice a day along the beach and in both directions you can walk for miles. When walking along the beach there are a couple of places you can call into - there is a turtle sanctuary and other resorts to call into for a drink or a bite to eat. We loved the early evening, when the locals would come down to the beach, particularly on a Sunday. Sri Lankan life is played out in front of you, with the locals inviting you to join in their game of beach cricket. There are some beach traders, but a gentle no thank you is all that is needed. The sea is very strong but if you turn right along the beach and less than half a mile along, you can walk out to sea a long way and sit down on the sand bank. There is a variety of wildlife to see, lizards and once or twice we saw a 'snake charmer' with his basket of snakes taking a rest in the jungle background.

We found the bar, again very tastefully designed and with a great choice of drinks a little lacking in atmosphere. I don't know if everyone had gone to bed, but it was very quiet in the evenings. Again, we don't mind but if you are looking for lively, I don't think you would find this here - romantic and relaxing yes. We also loved the seafood outdoor restaurant. The staff couldn't be more helpful in helping you decide what you want. It is hard to make a choice, but you can frankly choose to put a bit of everything on your plate. Amazing fish and cooked to perfection. It is best to book in here, as there are not many tables. We booked and were given a lovely table, right on the edge - perfect end to a perfect day.

I would love to return but there was one disappointment for us. We stayed last Christmas period. We were there, when overnight they transform the hotel with again very understated but luxurious decorations, making stunning use of the plants and bamboo particularly by the bar and shop corridor. We did explore a little bit, but feel we could have made better use of our time. You don't get anywhere fast in Sri Lanka. We wish we had done a safari trip and visited Kandy. Other guests we met used the services of the hotel, that were excellent at arranging drivers. We did go to Columbo and the elephant sanctuary and a day in Galle. We used the train system. We went first class to Columbo - a curtain over the seated area and with air conditioning but be prepared for the toilets. We then travelled to Galle with everyone else. I sort of loved the experience. I shared a seat with two Sri Lankan ladies and their children. Everyone is an entertainer, singing happened there and back. You get to see real life Sri Lanka, with sellers selling their goods through the windows of the train. On the way home, we also 'hung' out of the 'doorway' to catch the breeze and to get an even closer look at the scenery - jungle to coast - stunning and an experience that will stay with me. Sri Lanka is more than just a holiday resort and I wish we had made better use of the drivers that the hotel can organise. I did feel a little uncomfortable at the train station at the next town to Bentota where we caught the train to Columbo. We also felt that Bentota is not really a resort. Apart from the beach there is no where else you can walk to and this is our reason for feeing a little bit restricted. The tuk tuk drivers are great and this adds to the atmosphere of travelling around Sri Lanka.

The hotel Is a perfect luxury break. I would recommend making your holiday even more special and truly explore this beautiful island outside of Bentota - make use of the recommended hotel drivers and fully embrace this wonderful island. If we do return we would most definitely return to this hotel and make it our base. One thing I would say is a must, is to go in the evening to the turtle sanctuary at Induruwa. It is about 20 minutes by Tuk Tuk from the hotel. We were able to stand on the beach in moonlight and release five turtles into the sea - magical.

Room Tip: 4th floor rooms have the unique sound experience at 5:00 am of sounding as if the train is coming through the room.
  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank LincsVic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ranjit S, General Manager at Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 16, 2015

"Ayubowan" and Warm Greetings from the Vivanta by Taj Bentota!

We thank you immensely for your delightful review and for taking so much of your time to give us this fantastic feedback. It is very much appreciated. We hope to see you again on your future trips and thank you for having chosen to stay at our Resort. Wish you a wonderful year ahead!

Warm Regards

Ranjit Shankar
General Manager
Vivanta by Taj Bentota
ranjit.shankar@tajhotels.com

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 14, 2015

On arrival we found the valet/concierge to be quite poor consequently we handled our own luggage. However, the check in was good, swift and friendly.
The resort is very nice with a lovely pool and gardens and attentive staff.
There is also a lovely beach with opportunities to do a few water sports.
The beach itself is under used which means it is great for a long stroll as the sand was easy to walk on. In view of this we walked along to the turtle sanctuary located at a lovely restaurant called Wunderbar! We were shown the turtles that had been hurt in fishermen's nets as well as the hatchery, all this was for free.
Breakfast in the hotel was excellent with plenty of choice & of good quality.
The restaurants were quite good as well as the bar but our favourite was the Shack, this has a limited number of tables so be sure to book. It is a seafood restaurant and the food served was very good.
We visited Underbar further along the beach from the hotel and their seafood was also excellent but less than half the price of the hotel!
Tease bar is quite good with live entertainment, good bar food & an excellent super friendly barman.
The free wifi throughout the hotel was very poor so we paid for a better upgraded wifi which was not much better.
Housekeeping services were very friendly but we found the bed hard & uncomfortable.
The balcony seemed smaller than they pictures on the website.
We were a little frustrated on check out as it was very slow so allow at least 20 minutes.
If you book online and the price is in dollars get the price in rupees as there is potential conflict with the dollar exchange on check out.
All in all a very pleasant experience.

  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Eddy657
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ranjit S, General Manager at Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 16, 2015

Greetings from the Vivanta by Taj Bentota!

Thank you for taking the time to give us a review of your stay experience at the hotel. We have noted all your inputs and will certainly work on those areas which needs to be improved. We look forward to welcoming you back and wish you a fantastic year ahead!

Warm Regards

Ranjit Shankar
General Manager
Vivanta by Taj, Bentota, Sri Lanka

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 14, 2015

We stayed in a Deluxe Sea View Room on full board and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

The hotel has a lovely position on the beach which can be accessed easily via the hotel gounds, and offers beautiful views of the sunset. The pool area is lovely with ample sunbeds and a quiet area if you prefer to sunbathe away from the hustle and bustle.

The accommodation was lovely and provided everything we needed and included a little balcony overlooking the pool area.

We mainly ate in the buffet restaurant and always found there to be a good varied choice of dishes prepared to a high standard. We loved the Sri Lankan night and found the curries to be delicious. The waiting staff were also helpful and friendly and a special mention has to go to Roshan who was fabulous and looked after us brilliantly.

The hotel had a good choice of restaurants and a lovely bar area which was ideal for a relaxing drink in the evening, offering a fabulous choice of cocktails.

Some of the hotel areas are looking a little dated; there was ongoing maintainance work happening so it was apparent that the hotel is trying to improve these areas.

Unfortunately I was taken ill on my final evening at the hotel but the reception staff were fantastic helping my husband to find a pharmacy that was open, and transporting him there despite the late hour. All involved went out of their way to help and it was greatly appreciated, thank you.

I would happily recommend this hotel to anybody and we would not hesitate to return. Thank you for a wonderful holiday :o)

  • Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Bratbys
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ranjit S, General Manager at Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 14, 2015

Greetings from the Vivanta by Taj Bentota!

Thank you for your wonderful review and for giving us this feedback. It is very much appreciated. It will be our pleasure to welcome you back again and wish you a fantastic year ahead!

Warm Regards

Ranjit Shankar
General Manager
Vivanta by Taj Bentota
ranjit.shankar@tajhotels.com

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 13, 2015

The hotel is excellent ! From check in till check out were 9 days of pleasure, delightful food and friendly and relaxing atmosphere.
The room and all spaces are perfect clean , the pool , the garden ,the lobby , the restaurants are spotless.
I'm very happy to have choose that hotel and if a next time I'll choose it again !

Stayed: June 2015
Thank Lucy G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ranjit S, General Manager at Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 14, 2015

Greetings from the Vivanta by Taj Bentota!

Thank you so very much for your wonderful review and for taking the time out to give us this feedback. It is truly appreciated. We look forward to welcoming you back and wish you a fantastic year ahead!

Warm Regards

Ranjit Shankar
General Manager
Vivanta by Taj Bentota
ranjit.shankar@tajhotels.com

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 12, 2015

Stayed here for 7 nights after a tour. Beautiful hotel, staff wonderful, spotlessly clean and well equiped. Did not eat there other than breakfast as there are many good options within walking distance or a £2-3 tuk tuk ride but the food looked reasonably priced for a 5* hotel.
It is by the rail track but this does not detract from the charm of the place.

  • Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Susan E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ranjit S, General Manager at Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 14, 2015

Greetings from the Vivanta by Taj Bentota!

We thank you for your wonderful review and for taking the time out to give us this feedback. It is very much appreciated. We look forward to welcoming you back and wish you a fantastic year ahead.

Warm Regards

Ranjit Shankar
General Manager
Vivanta by Taj Bentota
ranjit.shankar@tajhotels.com

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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