Bawa-designed Cinnamon Bentota Beach in Sri Lanka re-opens

ECONOMYNEXT – Cinnamon Bentota Beach, a historically important 1967 hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa who helped inspire an architectural style known as tropical modernism, has re-opened after restoration, the hotel group said.

“Bawa was able to create an experience that was completely rooted in place and time using the art skills and crafts available to deliver an experience that was unique to Sri Lanka,” Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts said.

“Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts decided to restore and conserve the building because of its importance in the architectural history of the world.”

Bawa himself designed and contributed to the spread buildings in the style of tropical modernism around South and South East Asia.

Originally Bentota Beach, the hotel is now branded Cinnamon Bentota Beach, under the brand of the John Keells group, which runs a network of 15 hotels in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“We started this project eighteen months ago, and set ourselves a tight timeline to complete it,” Krishan Balendra, Chairman John Keells Group said.

“I’m happy to say that what we have today is a hotel restored to the original feel of Geoffrey Bawa’s creation.

“Bentota Beach Hotel as it was known then, has been an icon in Sri Lanka as we all know, and we are eager to share with our guests the history and heritage value of this hotel.”

The hotel features creations by local artists as well as works by Bawa’s associates.

Paintings by Ismeth Raheem (artist, architect and author) decorate the walls of the lounge, while sixteen suites containing art and creations by local artists correspond to the name of each suite.

Eight artists were commissioned to depict a theme and record what they felt the name of the suite meant to them resulting in each suite telling a story of the local people and local languages.

The restoration involved reinstating a ceiling by Ena de Silva at the entrance, the handloom fabric design of Barbara Sansoni and Barefoot, the recreation of the ceiling of the lounge and bar with the aid of designer Marie Gnanaraj.

A gilded and painted panel by Ismeth Raheem on the south wall of the lounge that records memories of the hotel and its 50 year history was also restored.

The hotel is on a 11-acre property facing the Indian Ocean and Bentara River. It is a 159-room hotel with 16-suites and 144-suite sized rooms. (Colombo/Jan20/2020)