“The new hotel will cater to the high end leisure travellers who seek a relaxing space in the busy Colombo town, business travellers and for travellers who come to our other properties but will stay one or two days in Colombo," Priyanjith Weerasooria, Managing Director of Uga Escapes told LBO.
"We are offering them the option of staying with us instead of staying in another hotel.”
“The tourism industry seems promising in Sri Lanka. It has been growing for the past few years and we are hopeful that this trend will grow further,”
He says there is a big shift towards hotels that do not belong to star categories but offer a luxury and relaxing hotel experience.
“There is a big move towards that,” Weerasooria said.
“People like to stay in boutique hotels which offer a very personalize experience and of course a high quality, luxury experience.”
Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals rose 24.5 percent to 141,878 in February 2014 from a year earlier, with India, Russia and China showing gains, the state tourism promotion data shows.
Visitors from Western Europe rose 15.7 percent to 52,635 while UK grew 5.2 percent to 14,316.
According to the industry figures Chinese and Indian tourist are taking over the Sri Lankan tourism market.
However, industrialist argue that these tourist are not big spenders like its western European counterparts.
“It’s part and partial of a country I guess. You need all these segments of the market,” Weerasooria said.
“The high end is a very small part of this but it is a very important part because they spend five to six times more than a regular tourist,”
“We have now seen more companies invest in boutique and luxury properties rather than hotels for critical masses which are easier products to market.”
He also says that even though in Sri Lanka the high end market is relatively smaller compared to the mass tourism sector which is dominated by the Indian and Chinese tourists, there is still business for high end leisure travelers.
“With the end of the war Sri Lanka has come into the radar of western European countries,” Weerasooria said.
“That’s our main market,”
“We as a hotel have seen year on year growth although it’s relatively small form a country prospective, we are quite confident that our segment will be growing.”
However he says the country needs to be promoted and branded as a high end tourist destination even though a private – public partnership.
The newest addition and the fourth property of the chain, “Residence”, is an all-suite boutique hotel in Colombo and was earlier known as Park Street hotel which was built in the nineteenth century.
Residence by Uga Escapes was once the family abode of Sheik Salehbhoy Moosajee, whose family has been prominent business and social personalities on the island since the 19th century.
His second wife, Begum Zarina Moosajee was a flamboyant artist, fashion and social icon of the time who added to the rich and colourful history of this magnificent bungalow. The mansion was designed to host his receptions and entertain guests on a grand scale with great halls, expansive gardens and stables for visitors’ carriage horses.
“We are on a very long term lease with the owner of the property. Out investment was to do the renovation of the property,” Weerasooria said.
“We totally revamped the hotel and added 10 suites with three different colours. We also added a restaurant which is even affordable to locals,”
"With a large garden, swimming pool, gym, bar and private dining rooms, the Residence offers plenty of spaces to meet, relax or celebrate.”
Weerasooria said, Uga is planning adding another 14 villa property to be opened in Yala by the end of the year with an investment more than 500 million rupees.
“We are planning to basically develop a brand to touch round trip destinations in Sri Lanka and touch most of the destinations on the round trip,” Weerasooria said.
“With that in mind the forth property in Colombo our fifth in Yala and after that we are hoping to have other properties around to add to the round trip,”
Uga Escapes is a fully owned subsidiary of the Finco Group. Incorporated in 1963, the group comprises several companies recording success in diverse fields.
The company owns boutique properties offering unique experiences across the island that include- the 20 luxury villa Ulagalla Walawwa in Anuradhapura, Jungle Beach Resort, Trincomalee, and UGA Bay, Passekudah and the latest addition is the Residence by Uga Escapes in the heart of Colombo.