Travel Notebook

A Resplendent Journey into the World of Tea

Tea lovers will flock to Sri Lanka throughout 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the planting of the first tea bush in the country. I am an ardent tea fan and am so looking forward to joining our friends at Resplendent Ceylon and Sri Lanka’s first luxury tea bungalow resort, Tea Trails, as they mark this special occasion.

We were fortunate enough to get an advance peek at what your clients’ tea-infused vacation will entail … and it’s incredible. The family behind Dilmah Tea – Sri Lanka’s only entirely home-grown and managed tea brand – is welcoming guests who have a curiosity about the tea industry, its origins, how it’s grown and the lives of the Ceylon tea planters.

Resplendent Ceylon has curated an exclusive tea connoisseur’s getaway, wherein guests will follow the entire process from leaf to cup. The stay begins at the lake-view Dunkeld Estate, where guests will stay in the private Taylor Owner’s Cottage in the midst of a tea field, enjoying a gourmet dinner with a local tea historian, savor a private tea experience with the resident tea planter and take a memorable nighttime stroll through the grounds – perhaps even glimpsing sleeping lizards, wild boar and jungle cats!

Then, for tea and sea, it’s time to move on to Tea Trails’ sister resort, Cape Weligama, just south of Galle Fort. Perhaps what I’m looking forward to the most here is the tea-based spa treatments at their brand-new spa facility. And, of course, there’s a plethora of tea-centric activities, including a visit to a low-country tea estate. There’s a fantastic chance that your clients will catch a glimpse of whales in the beautiful bay of Weligama during their stay.

In Colombo, your clients will meet the founder of Dilmah Tea, the amazing Merrill J. Fernando, and enjoy a private tea tasting with the master, then take part in a customized “tea mixology” class. Fernando’s story is so remarkable: He launched Sri Lanka’s first producer-owned tea company in 1988, driven by his love of tea and a desire to offer authenticity. Until that point, there was no other company that offered single-origin, home-grown tea, cultivated and packed at the source.

As with many of our clients, and Rebecca Recommends itself, philanthropy and a strong sense of community is at the core of our travel mission, and Fernando is no exception. His business continues to support the surrounding community in Sri Lanka, and the MJF Charitable Foundation is one of the country’s most important philanthropic organizations. His employees receive healthcare and their children receive school books and scholarships – and the foundation has provided livelihood assistance to 1,008 families. Conservation projects and those that empower women and more than 150 differently abled children are also supported by his organization. And to top it all off, Fernando was selected as an Oslo Business for Peace Honoree by the Award Committee of Nobel Laureates in Peace and Economics.

From the Relais & Châteaux Tea Trails – with its five colonial-era tea planters’ bungalows connected by walking trails, to Cape Weligama – with its 270-degree panoramic ocean views – this is a most luxurious entrée into the world of Sri Lankan tea and a must for those with a refined taste for both tea and travel.