An expression of ‘luxurious living’ under the comfort of a home – The Theva Residency – Nihal Sri Ameresekere and Dheeshana Amerasekere

Being hospitable is the first stride to hospitality. So the saying, ‘a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality’, only a handful recognize their responsibility in the field. Thriving amongst the hearts of their customers, The Theva Residency has pioneered through the line of excellent hoteliers and continues to dazzle. 

The Theva Residency was founded by Nihal Sri Ameresekere, a former student of S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia. Nihal has been an outstanding pupil, holding astonishing positions like Leader of the English and Sinhala Debating Teams, President of the English and Sinhala Literary Societies, College Prefect at a very fledgling age. Although being eligible to read a Degree in Mathematics & Economics from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, Nihal decided on pursuing his professional studies in Accountancy via Ernst & Young (then Turquand Youngs) Chartered Accountants, with the hope to train in auditing and taxation, giving a wider focus on management consultancy and forensic accounting. Later he trained in Bombay, India in the areas of construction and manufacturing organizations, data processing, and computerization in 1969. 

Nihal accomplished the Best Performance Award and a Certificate of Merit from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. Later appointed as a Member of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants of the UK and a Council Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, by 1975. Nihal excelled as a Lecturer in Management in various institutions before being involved with the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Australia. Furthermore, he was an engaged member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners of the US, and an Associate of the American Bar Association from 2011 where he was associated as a Member of the Global Anti-Corruption Task Force. 

Commencing his professional career, Nihal initially served as a business consultant back in 1974 in Comindtax Management Service Ltd.; now called Consultants 21 Ltd., handling a wide range of clientele from local to international, among private and public sectors. Putting his vast experience into practice, he assigned his audited tax practice to KPMG Ford, Rhodes, Thornton & Co., in 1982 prioritizing business, management consultancy and commercial litigation support services. Nihal has been involved as a Consultant in promoting the development of Tourist Hotels across Sri Lanka from 1970 and has been a Consultant to Oberoi Hotels of India exploring opportunities in the Maldives for them. 

Nihal also accumulated multiple governmental recognitions at various points in life. From being a member at the Board of Directors of Ceylon Pharmaceutical Corporation in 1977 to being Director  governing finance of the all-island Sri Lanka Transport Boards, he worked under the authority of the former President of Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayawardene. Nihal further served as a Council Member of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, before holding the capacity of Promoter, Subscriber, Director, and Shareholder in 1983 of Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC., owning Company of Hilton Colombo. Nihal was selected under the Top Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award during 1983-84, for his brilliant dedication to Business Management. 

Functioning as the Senior Advisor and Consultant to the Ministry of Finance & Planning, the Ministry of Policy Planning & Implementation, and the Ministry of Transport under President R. Premadasa and President D.B. Wijetunga’s government from 1989-1994 and as Senior Consultant on a World Bank funded all island Bus Transport Sector restructuring project and Senior Consultant on an USAID funded Project for the promotion of public-private partnership during this period, Nihal continued to serve as Advisor, Ministry of Finance & Planning in 1994 and the Chairman of the Public Enterprises Reform Commission and Chairman Hotel Developers (Lanka) Ltd., in 2004, appointed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. 

Nihal has operated in various other high standard collaborations like the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management in the US from 1989 and Board Member thereof in 2014-2015, and the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) since 2006. He was also appointed to an Experts Panel of IAACA, maintaining associations with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Nihal has authored and published in the US over 2 dozen professional Books to the global market, acclaimed by specialists in several fields. Nihal established himself as a public interest activist and litigator.

An individual of such a heightened caliber, holding dignified positions all over his professional life, has his soft spots too. Originally from Kandy, Nihal shares a deeper bond with this place, paving opportunities to cherish his time there. Bringing his dream to reality, he purchased his ‘Holiday Home’ to spend leisurely vacations, until his triad of children suggested the development of a Boutique Hotel.

This decision was deep-rooted back in 2006, starting the initial development alongside his sons and his wife, which was later taken over by his daughter Dheeshana Amerasekere, an individual advanced in International Marketing and Hotel Management. Taking care of the management and the operations of the property, the hotel was functioning for soft operations under Dheeshana’s supervision. Initiating its mainstream operations for tourists back in 2009, The Theva Residency continues to maintain its presence as a shimmering pioneer in the industry. 

Abiding by the title ‘residency’, which reflects a homely sensation, “The Theva residency retains that homely comfort while adding luxuries that pamper, spoil and indulge the guest”, Nihal shares when emphasizing the uniqueness of the property. From greeting guests with a warm ‘Ayubowan’ to their departure, Theva Residency enriches them with an unforgettable experience of true excellence, providing them an unquestionable vacation. 

Nihal states that “The Theva Residency promises serenity, romance, and rejuvenation, with awe-inspiring views, edgy design, and sublime dining options”. Located amongst the mighty Hantana mountain range, Theva guests are ensured with breathtaking and lasting views that leave them swathed with memories for life. Neighboring Kandy town by 2 kilometers, the residency flourishes with an enchantment of a variety of flora and fauna, preserving its lustrous land surrounded by views of mountain terrain. He further states “Theva is a short distance from the lush Hantana Rainforest, with its rivulets, streams, and abundance of animal and plant life – an ideal destination for bird-watchers and those interested in trekking.”

Dheeshana Ameresekere, the daughter in the Ameresekere family comments on the future of the residency “we have been pushed to reflect on understanding and re-interpreting ‘luxury’ during the pandemic”. She further believed that Theva Residency has paved paths to build a synchronic relationship with Mother Nature while redefining their philosophy to maintain consistency amidst a pandemic.

Deeming the significance of balancing the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of their guests, Dheeshana shares Theva’s future initiative to provide a refreshing and holistic experience to the three vital elements of a human; mind-body, and soul. Theva lingers for an emotional connection with their guests that can be cherished for years to come. She also emphasizes the sublime dining options, “Our Resident Chef and his team will focus on more nutritional and immune-boosting food using our local indigenous herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits using traditional local forms of preparation” while discussing their forthcoming plans to expand their green lands to cultivate their organic produce and herbs to enrich the meals of their wonderful guests.

Dheeshana shares her pride in having her father as her business partner; “There are many lessons I have learned from my father along my life journey. Some of the key lessons I have learned have always helped me throughout various phases making me the person I am today”. Dheeshana gives an enormous value to education and hard work, following in her father’s footsteps. Being a community worker from a very young age, she heightens the importance of humanity and empathy; “Treating people who work with you like family and taking care of all who take care of you is a priority”. 

Amidst an uncertain period in life, the entities of The Theva Residency maintain faith in the good, looking forward to the future fearlessly. Following her father’s mantra, ‘there is always room at the top’, Dheeshana strives further courageously, standing up to her philosophies, taking Theva to the next level of fineness. She ends her statement with a dear message she treasured from her father “He taught me that the power of never giving up and always taking that one extra step or thinking out of the box to find another way, is the path to success”. 

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