Chammika Withanage returned to Sri Lanka after 12 years with a dream of opening a luxury boutique villa in Sri Lanka, and the journey began when he and his friend Amitha discovered a plot of land facing the Sigiriya Lion Rock and Pidurangala. Later, in 2018, Chammika and Amitha co-founded Roo Mansala Boutique Villas.
Chammika moved to Australia and completed a triple major degree in Accounting, Finance, and Financial Planning with first-class honors from the Deakin University of Melbourne. He is also a Certified Practicing Accountant. While completing his studies, Chammika worked in the finance department for British Petroleum Australia for eight years.
Coming from a finance background, Chammika found it challenging to enter the Hospitality industry, where he had to learn from the ground up – from land acquisition to operation.
“We would like to express our gratitude to our families and friends, as well as the Architect, Sakunthala Gunasekara, and the Interior Designer, Chathuri Kannangara. Also, BOC Sigiriya branch and their Kandy regional office deserve a lot of credit for the financial assistance provided whenever needed.”
With mesmerizing views of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress (dubbed the eighth wonder of the world) and the Pidurangala Rock, Roo Mansala offers peaceful seclusion of the lush, fertile plains where ancient kings dwelt, dueled, and sought refuge. The unique architecture of the hotel, reminiscent of the ancient architecture of the Rock Fortress, blends the marvels of Sigiriya, with modern boutique living. Roo Mansala is a refuge for all seasonal travelers offering a unique, personalized, hospitality experience in an eco-friendly setting.
Furthermore, Roo Mansala is a heaven for all seasonal travelers, providing a one-of-a-kind, personalized hospitality experience in an environmentally friendly setting.
“At Roo Mansala, we are dedicated to environmental conservation. We use eco-friendly materials and are concerned with energy and water conservation, also planted over 400 plants within the one acre,” Chammika added.
Speaking about the current situation of the Hospitality industry and what strategies he would employ to stay ahead, Chammika stated, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is safe to say that tourism does not exist at the moment. Prior to COVID-19, a few large hotel chains dominated the industry. However, with the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic the hospitality industry now heavily relies on the local market and many people are concerned about health guidelines and social distancing hence they prefer to stay in small boutique hotels. That being said, the outcome will be different if Hoteliers do not pay attention to the environment and ethical practices. Roo Mansala has always been committed to environmental conservation and will continue to invest in this area.”
The Hotelier further stated that post-COVID-19, there will be a huge surge in the hospitality industry but people look beyond comfort and relaxation, there will be greater demand for ‘isolation holidays’ private villas, boutique hotels, camping & glamping will be scoring high. Also, travelers will tend to stay longer in their holidays compared to the prior vacations.
He continued: “At Roo Mansala, we always support the local community. Our staff members are from nearby villages, and we purchase organic vegetables and fruits from the local community.”
Chammika affirmed that the effects of the Easter Sunday attacks followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of infrastructure and financial support, and complicated procedures and processes are the other major challenges faced by the Hospitality industry.
Easter Sunday Attacks & COVID-19 Pandemic
The Easter attacks had a significant impact on the industry, and just as it was beginning to recover, the COVID-19 pandemic presented the Hospitality industry with an unprecedented challenge. Strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve, such as community lockdowns, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and travel and mobility restrictions, have resulted in the temporary closure of many hospitality businesses and a significant decrease in demand for businesses that were permitted to continue operating.
Lack of Infrastructure & Financial Support
We must improve the country’s infrastructure if we are to attract more foreigners. For example, foreign visitors pay USD 30 for admission to Sigiriya, but we have failed to provide better restroom facilities. In addition, there are no designated cycling lanes in Sigiriya, and there are very few in the country.
The government’s financial assistance to small and medium-sized Hoteliers is insufficient. More support is needed if the industry is to grow.
Procedures & Processes
This should be reconsidered because much of it is overly complicated, and government employees should be kept up to date and educated on the changes. Furthermore, when seeking approval from government agencies, there should be a proper timeline for when the work will be completed.
Despite the numerous challenges, Chammika confidently concluded by stating that Roo Mansala’s short-term goal is to become one of the top 3 top boutique villas in the country.
“To that end, we are working on a few value additions during this difficult period in order to stay ahead of the game. The Travellers will continue to appreciate effortless personalized service in sustainable luxury, hence we are heavily investing in it right now.”