One of the best kept secrets of the Southern Coast of Sri Lanka is the shimmering hamlet of Kosgoda. Naturally blessed with wide golden beaches, a beautiful bay, a small reef, and multiple estuaries flowing into an azure sea, these bejeweled surrounds were the colourful inspiration for the conception of Saffron & Blue.
Saffron & Blue is the holiday home of Ranil de Silva; an Ad man who has directed his creative energy into the project’s creation by painstakingly selecting the furniture, art, and everything in-between – to compliment the resort’s architecture and setting. The abode is a reflection of his taste and personal style. It’s an expression of his life and his likes, a combination of the places he has seen, the designs that have inspired him, and the world he has experienced.
Designed by leading Asian architect Channa Daswatte (a protégé of the late and prolific Geoffrey Bawa) Saffron & Blue is all about spaces and moods and places and hues, with a mix of bright, sunny areas and cool, secluded nooks and crannies. The free-standing staircase is a sculpture in itself, conceptualised by Daswatte to complement the building’s simple architecture.
Fabrics from Jim Thompson are predominant, interspersed with sustainable handlooms from Sri Lanka’s very own Barbara Sansoni. Most of the furniture is of Sri Lankan origin and includes a collection of rare antiques, as well as many other bespoke pieces made from teak, mahogany and jack wood. The salt-water finish of the furniture has been specifically created to complement the style of the residence, whilst designer Dhurries created by Shyam Ahuja, eclectically lie side by side with mats and carpets woven by Thai and Sri Lankan craftswomen.
Saffron & Blue is also home to a tasteful gallery of art by known Sri Lankan artists, as well as lesser known painters from India, Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Thailand. Lording it over the entrance verandah is a painting of the universe with lord Ganesh by Mahen Chanmugam. The power of man is captured in the hues of autumn by Jimmy Lu. Jagath Ravindra’s tryptic expression of ‘the awakening’, stands tall and bold in the main sitting area. Sanjeewa Kumara’s Flying Elephant brightly illuminates the dining hall, while a specially commissioned twelve-piece mural by Sanjaya Senaviratna captures the reflection of the sky on the beach at sunset.
In the master bedroom, block prints and mono prints by J.C. Ratnayake chronicle the island’s former civil war, alongside quiet expressions of the seasons by Nelun Harasgama. International contemporary art adorns the bungalow’s Red and Green rooms, while in the Blue room, inspiration for Saffron & Blue is further captured in a tryptic by an unknown Chinese artist.
Guests are welcomed to enjoy Ranil’s holiday home just as his closest friends would. Arrive at sunset and enjoy the spectacle of the vibrant skies reflected in the swimming pool. Unwind with a pre-dinner drink, then sit down to a hearty repas. Play your favourite music, watch a movie, or simply gaze up at the stars.
Get up late the next morning and stir your limbs awake with a dip in the pool or a walk along the beach a few minutes’ away. Tuck into a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast of string hoppers and roti, then spend the rest of the morning being a lotus eater, or exploring the nearby village. Enjoy a late lunch of rice and curry like the locals, or simply settle for a sandwich or a bowl of pasta – followed by a mandatory siesta! Wake up in time for a sunset stroll by the sea. It will take your breath away.
A plunge in the Jacuzzi, a hike along the bay, or a vigorous swim are all ideal ways to work up an appetite for the evening. Sip fresh juice or a cocktail in the mezzanine lounge. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner in the heady garden, or elegant dining room. Then again, it might be the perfect night for the signature BBQ in the pavilion.
At Saffron & Blue food is taken very seriously. That’s because the owner hails from a family renowned for their food. So, what you eat and how you enjoy it, is as important as the spaces themselves. What’s particularly novel is that you get to plan your own menus with the resident chef, who has been impeccably trained under the watchful eye of celebrity gastronome, Koluu. No stay is complete without sampling the freshly caught seafood (cuttlefish, prawns, succulent crabs), the luscious array of tropical fruits and vegetables, or the crusty specialty bread Sri Lankans call ‘roast paan’.
In and around Kosgoda, there’s masses to do culturally, historically and recreationally. A ten-minute walk from the premises brings you to a turtle hatchery – a must-see experience, particularly on a moonlit night. Eco boat rides through the mangroves, water skiing, antique hunting and temple explorations are some of the best-loved local offerings. While the historic town of Galle – with its charmingly restored boutique hotels, cobbled streets and glorious ramparts – is just an hour’s car journey away.
Everything at Saffron & Blue reflects great taste. Whether it’s the architecture, the furniture or the paintings on the wall. But at the end of the day, it’s the small, personal touches which make this home truly special – and the generosity of an owner who proclaims mi casa es tu casa.