We visited the luxury wellness Sri Lankan resort championing the oldest medicinal system in the world.
Every stay starts with a one-on-one consultation with the in-house Ayurvedic specialist. The session aims to assess your appetite, sleeping patterns, blood pressure and respiration - and pretty much every aspect of what constitutes your health and wellbeing. At this point, you’ll come face to face with the consequences of your Western diet and lifestyle, so prepare yourself for some a bit of an epiphany.
The team at Barberyn Beach Weligama recommend that guests stay a week minimum, in order to fully relax and reset. As a reviewer, I only managed to visit the resort for 48 hours, to get an overview rather than an in-depth experience. But by the end of my express cure, I came to the same conclusion as them: to fully reap the benefits of Ayurveda - which translates as "knowledge of life" - and see real change occur, it’s ideal to book between seven to twenty-one consecutive days.
A complete health reboot
Coffee, wifi, alcohol,...forget about it, they are all stimulants. You won’t find them here, or if you do, the amounts will be so pitiful that they’ll leave you frustrated anyway. So just decide to embrace the detox experience and take an all-encompassing approach. Located on the shore of the Indian Ocean on the South East coast of Sri Lanka, Barberyn Beach Weligama is a place to discover what detoxification, whether digital, emotional or nutritional, truly means.
After reviewing some basic information with you, the Ayurvedic doctor will kindly explain that you suffer from an imbalance of your Doshas. If you’re not familiar with this concept, the Doshas are the names given to different constitutions defined by Ayurveda. There are three types, Vatha, Pitha and Kapha, based on the five elements: Apo (water), Thejo (fire), Vayo (air), Pruthuvi (earth) and Akasha (space/ether).
Rest assured, you won’t have to remember the jargon. The team is here to tailor a very specific diet just for you and a set of treatments and wellness activities designed to repair your particular imbalances. It’s all extremely precise, and has been tried and tested for the past 5000 years, given that Ayurveda is the oldest known natural medicinal system in the world. All you need to do is put your faith in the doctor’s recommendations.
The spa doubles as a medical clinic, research and development unit. Led by the Institute of Ayurveda and alternative medicine in collaboration with a local university, the spa is currently developing a database of knowledge by compiling information about 1373 medicinal plants. Research will be carried out into their usage and benefits, and experts will also use the opportunity to create their own herbal medicines. Wandering through the resort is a sensory experience where you discover and smell all these varieties of plants first hand. Simply ask the reception for “herbal trail” map.
A Sri Lankan way of life: inner balance and energy
As with the other hotels of the same group, the design and landscape of the eco-resort came straight from the imagination of local legend Laki. Artistic ruins, soothing waterworks and dramatic lighting are all part of his signature style and give the place a real Sri Lankan vibe you won’t find anywhere else. The artist also takes advantage of the lobby to create a room surrounded by water, with retractable awning walls and a majestic steel artwork hanging from the ceiling which is particularly scenic at night.
Each of the 45 rooms is extra spacious and comes with a private balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean. Inside, the decor is rustic and traditional, think Rattan chairs and wood furniture - with all the amenities you need but without any useless embellishments. And of course, you guessed it, it’s also Wi-Fi-free. A stones throw away is the salt water swimming pool and hidden below… a pocket-sized beach that feels very private. The resort also offers a yoga pavilion and a rooftop fitness space for outdoor gentle exercise like Tai Chi, and meditation.
A fully sustainable and organic Ayurvedic vegetarian buffet
The clinic also supervises the kitchen; therefore the food is made according to the health centre recommendations. As I sat down for my first meal of the trip, the team gave me a card with the specific ingredients the restaurant should provide me with. My breakfast would need to start with gotu kola (a type of plant known for improving longevity) soup, lunch was to be eaten with Hibiscus water on the side and dinner diluted with fennel tea in order to lower down my Vatha imbalance.
The buffet, served in clay pots and beautifully arranged ceramic bowls, was a discovery in itself. A member of the clinic is available on-site to answer all of your questions and I often had to ask their advice, as most of the fruit and vegetables on the menu were organically and locally grown by Barberyn, and not known in the Western world! It’s a real journey for the tastebuds and a radically different approach to gastronomy and plate composition. To top it all off, by the end of my stay, I realised I had mostly eaten vegan meals without even noticing!
From 80 euros per day which gives you access to yoga classes (morning/afternoon), 3 meals (ayurvedic vegetarian buffet) and treatments (around 2 hours per day including acupuncture, herbal massages, body wraps, facials, eye treatments, and baths). This price doesn’t include your stay.