How do Boutique Hotels set Themselves Apart?


When you think ‘getaway’, what springs to mind? Do you envision comfort, good food, breathtaking scenery or anything that will allow you to rest and recharge? Mosvold Boutique Hotels offers all of this and more. From Mosvold Villa in Ahangama with its stylish living spaces, excellent food and spectacular landscapes, to Sundara by Mosvold with its iconic colonial architecture on the pristine Balapitiya beach, to Escape Weligama with its luxurious take on the country’s first luxury boutique hotel cum surf school, and more. But, Nilanka Martinus, Managing Director, Mosvold Boutique Hotels, explains they got into the industry quite by accident.

It all began with building a house on the beach pre-Southern Expressway. Since travel time was longer at the time, Martinus realized they wouldn’t use the space often.

“So we converted it into a six-bedroom boutique hotel, which grew to eight that grew to 12. That was our first property!” he explains. When the war ended, tourism began to boom and Mosvold expanded, spreading its wings across different sections of hospitality. After the Easter Sunday bombings last year, they decided to take a step back to determine how they can become experts at what they do. “One way of doing that was splitting the brands,” says Martinus. “So we moved into small high-end boutique hotels, which handles private experiences, catered towards the traveller looking for individual moments on holiday.”

Centered around their vision of what you want, Mosvold Hotels created a sub-brand called Escape Hotels, aimed at people looking for a lifestyle escape.

“It’s a lifestyle brand focused around a certain aspirational aspect of your lifestyle,” he says.

In addition to their core businesses, Mosvold also gives back to the communities through the Mosvold-Martinus Foundation.

“We’re involved in everything from child protection to children’s education, supporting university education for youths, supporting and encouraging women’s empowerment programs, and skill development training combined with entrepreneurship mentoring. We also make an effort to get our staff involved in these projects as this helps them understand our long-term vision,” Martinus reveals.

The year leading up to the Easter Sunday bombings was great for the company. This helped put them in a good place post-bombing. However, after COVID-19 and the lockdown, they had to relook at many things.

“We managed to retain the people that mattered and who understood our vision, which is to always to move forward,” shares Martinus. “It was very important for us to come back to our roots and change how we interact with our guests.”

Compelled to adapt, Mosvold embraced the process of change. “All our colleagues got on the same platform, so everyone is up-to-date with everything, we have streamlined our teams and processes, and we have looked at a restructure that will allow everyone to come out of this healthier,” enthuses Martinus. “We know we can survive this. My goal is to give our colleagues a sense of security. Whatever we do, it is they who will give everything back to us in terms of how our guests experience our brands. Everything we’re doing to build resilience into our business is because we want to retain and attract good people who understand that we value the contributions they make in getting us to our goals.”