Perched on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, ÀNI Private Resorts is set on an elevated five-acre estate overlooking the island’s spectacular southern shoreline with captivating views of the Indian Ocean. The beautiful resort houses 15 suites across two pavilions custom-designed to deliver the ultimate, deluxe escape for an extended family or group holiday experience with superior five-star service and stunning design.
The unique luxury retreat concept is the brainchild of American entrepreneur and owner, Tim Reynolds, who imagined a virtuous circle that connected the things he loved most - travel, art and spending quality time in beautiful destinations with family and friends. With this in mind, he produced a one-of-a-kind hospitality educational operation that builds art schools in far-flung corners of the globe and stunning boutique resorts that provide an indulgent holiday experience for one group at a time.
The beauty is that all profits from the resort directly and completely fund scholarships for the talented local students and the prestigious ÀNI Art Academy. Reynolds explains: ‘When I was developing the idea for the ÀNI Art Academies, I thought, why not create a brand of villas, and use those villas as a way to showcase the art? People who come to stay in gorgeous, top-of-the-line properties are the same travellers who want to bring back a beautiful piece of art from their dream vacation. People really crave that kind of experience and take pride in discovering emerging talent in remote places. They are proud to see the impact the proceeds have in these communities. So that’s what we built.’
One hundred percent of the expenses, construction costs and the endowment for the ÀNI Art Academies is financed by ÀNI Sri Lanka and the Tim Reynolds Foundation. The ÀNI Private Resorts are a successful case of support, not only for fostering the education and development of emerging local artists, but the contribution to the community through the use of local, sustainable materials, as well as promoting the culture and customs of the indigenous people. It’s a true commitment to an authentic Sri Lankan experience, from the food and entertainment right down to the design ethos.
Upon arrival at the off-the-beaten-path, hidden destination, the staff perform a welcoming oil lamp lighting ritual to signify happiness, prosperity, joy and successful new beginnings. The ornate, human-sized brass lamp, festively decorated with jasmine, frangipani and temple flowers also features a walikukula, Sri Lanka’s national bird, sitting on top overseeing the ceremony. Each guest is given a white lotus flower and escorted to their villa where a personal butler attends to their check-in and any additional requests.
Designed by Reda Amalou, principal at AW2, a Paris-based international architecture and design agency, the property combines contemporary tropical architecture – drawing influence from Sri Lanka’s iconic Geoffrey Bawa – with the finest bespoke furnishings.
One signature design element placed at the entrance of the property is the fountain built using recycled clay roof tiles to clad the wall, which the water trickles down and into typical clay pots used to carry water by the locals.
Architecturally, the buildings are designed as stand-alone timber frame structures. Each pavilion has a large overhanging roof with iron and wood shingles that protect and shade the walls and windows. The façades are designed in a rhythm of vertical panels, alternating stone and windows. The main communal areas are built as double-height timber frame structures with wood imported from sustainable sources in the region and all the retaining walls are constructed using a locally quarried stone. The main structures are also clad in louvred shutters, which allow for natural ventilation and create a rich play on light at night.
The interiors reflect the simple style and application of architectural materials used with natural colours such as brown, grey and beige, and strong textures such as rough-cut stone, flamed granite and soft terrazzo, all locally sourced to represent the regional terrain. Particularly bespoke, the "Lanka chair" is the most iconic piece of furniture that was custom-designed especially for the resort. Marrying a subtle balance between weightlessness and structure, the chair has a unique character and visual identity derived from its 1950s-inspired design.
Both villas have a large, open living area fitted with high wooden-panel doors, which afford an undisturbed view of the ocean, as well as outdoor and indoor dining areas, plus a library filled with travel books and decorated with interesting antique pieces, and a games room. The overall atmosphere is serene and rich with a sense of community.
The name Àni is a play on a Swahili word "Andjani" which means "to be" on a path or a trip. It seemed an appropriate word for people who want more than just a vacation, and for artists just setting out on their journey.
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