The First Rays of the Sun – Nath Rankothge, Co-Founder/Director of Aarunya Nature Resort & Spa and Nath Rankothge & Associates

Born in Colombo to parents from Kandy, Nath Rankothge has built his career as an International Consultant Architect involved in over 20 notable international projects under construction or completed in eight countries including Sri Lanka, UK, USA, China, and Australia. He is also a Founder, Director of the global award winning Aarunya Nature Resort & Spa, and international Architecture practice – Nath Rankothge & Associates.

NRA primarily operates in the Architectural Design Consulting, Integrated Project Delivery, Property Development, and related Asset Management spaces. It aims to bring a fusion of international and local expertise, experience, and capabilities to Sri Lanka, with a social and environmental agenda. “There is space for Sri Lankan design and development to mature, inspire, and participate on an international stage, by drawing on its rich cultural heritage and environmental experiences – through experimentation and collaborations, enabled by visionary clients and designers with innovative approaches. We are confident of and proud to make a positive contribution to the future development of Sri Lanka!” averred Nath.

Moreover, he strives to participate in international projects, demonstrating pragmatic, strategic, and visionary design excellence, with social and environmental concern. He is committed to expanding his portfolio of iconic, high profile projects while adding value to his clients businesses through good design and business acumen.

One of Nath’s finest creations in Sri Lanka is Aarunya Nature Resort and Spa. Aarunya meaning ‘the first rays of the sun’ in the ancient language of Sanskrit, is an award-winning international collection of luxury private villas, set high on a mountain-top, surrounded by spice and tea gardens, overlooking the UNESCO Natural World Heritage-listed Knuckles Mountain Range. The vision set forth by Nath is to create a world-class nature resort and spa experience rooted in legendary Sri Lankan hospitality. The estate is bountiful and pristine with spectacular views, setting the mood to relax the body, mind, and spirit. It is a place where you can experience memorable sunrises, truly spectacular dining experiences, and exotic therapeutic rituals. For those looking to unplug from daily life rituals, there are wellness and rejuvenation programs with yoga, curated meal plans and meditation. It taps into the growing high-end market for boutique, private villas with resort amenities, bespoke service, and wellness offerings inspired by the uniqueness of Sri Lankan hospitality and natural environments.

Aarunya has to date received seven major international awards, including Asia’s Leading Boutique Resort 2020, and Sri Lanka’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2020 in the 27th Annual World Travel Awards, Luxury Mountain Hotel Global Winner in the 2019 World Luxury Hotel Awards, and 2020 Mountain Resort Global Winner by Galatian Signature Hotels.

Despite the setbacks of the Easter 2019 bombings, and the Pandemic, Aarunya has managed to forge ahead with its development agenda, whilst capturing a strong position in the local market, enabling the property to sustain operations and grow without furloughing any staff, thanks to its dedicated development, management, operations, and marketing team efforts and strategies.

Aarunya is now also ready to welcome back foreign tourists as a certified ‘Safe and Secure’ Level 1 hotel by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority with an independent audit conducted by KPMG.

Speaking about how the resort is supporting a green economy, Nath affirmed that Aarunya is built on green principles including:

Design Philosophy

Design inspiration was drawn from the natural beauty of the surrounding environment which prompted a minimalist approach with private villas that ‘touch the earth lightly’, respecting the environment and embodying a down to earth luxury lifestyle, whilst drawing on the rich architectural heritage of traditional Kandyan Pavilions and the Sri Lankan ‘Ambalama’ meaning ‘rest pavilion providing shelter for travelers’ in Sinhala.

Local Employment

Local labour was engaged for construction, maintenance and also the design process, with inputs, support, and training provided by NRA’s Sri Lankan & international professionals and consultants.

Usage of Natural, Renewable Construction Materials

Natural, renewable construction materials such as treated wood, mud, bamboo, durable eco-fabrics, and thatch have been used where possible, in particular for the new Aarogya Wellness Centre Ayurveda buildings, and even the highest category Sky Tended Villas which are the most popular with guests.

Organic Food & Reduction of Food Miles

Organic food and reducing food miles. Fruits, vegetables are sourced from the property or local farmers. Aarunya has a Greenhouse to cultivate shoots, and have also recently acquired a paddy field adjacent to the resort for food production and sourcing water.

Health & Wellness

In line with a growing international demand for alternative health and wellness, the new Aarogya Wellness Centre will focus on innovations combining both international and Ayurveda techniques, treatments and wellness programs.

Aarunya’s vision is to become an innovative world-class nature resort brand rooted in legendary Sri Lankan hospitality, while expanding with unique properties on the island and internationally. Nath plans to further explore the nature resort concept in differing contexts and landscapes around the world, springing from the founding principles developed at Aarunya Kandy.

As an Architect Developer, Nath is also open to discussing with investors interested in developing boutique hotels and resorts, and also international mixed-use real estate projects of which he has gained vast career experience.

The industry expert is currently seeing renewed interest in fresh approaches to development and investment focused on contemporary green concepts. Leading Sri Lankan and international companies and developers are working with NRA on projects aimed at building compelling contemporary concepts with social and environmental agendas.

“The post-pandemic era will bring renewed energy for different ways of living, working, and recreation, especially in Sri Lanka due to its great weather, natural beauty, development potential, and strategic geo-political location. We are excited about shaping this future positively.”

He further explained that he sees opportunities for foreign investment and development in Sri Lanka focused on ‘green’ investments, in line with global capital trends such as Private Equity models which are already well established in other Asian countries.

On a final note, Nath stated that he plans to launch a Design Research Lab within the NRA Colombo Office, to test concepts, materials, and technologies, whilst collaborating, mentoring, and learning together with the next generation of designers, engineers, artists, planners, builders, and entrepreneurs.

The Design Lab aims to create a collaborative platform to ignite ideas, perspectives and solutions where interdisciplinary specialists in diverse fields can experiment, prototype, blend local materials and techniques with international expertise and panache. As a first for the industry, NRA will also allocate revenue from its projects for CSR development projects in Sri Lanka, to be carried out through its Design Research Lab, including designing and building innovative structures and infrastructure for disadvantaged under-served communities.

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