Seeking Sanctuary – Santani, Kandy, Sri Lanka

With panoramic views across the misty mountains of central Sri Lanka, multi-award winning Santani Wellness Retreat aims to restore, revive, and bring balance back.

6 Sep 2023
Words by: Sharon Leece
Images by: Santani

Billed as the first fully-fledged luxury destination spa in Sri Lanka, Santani enjoys the perfect peace and quiet afforded by its location amid 485,000 square metres of rolling, emerald green hills. A stay here centres on detoxing and cleansing, to nourish mind, body and spirit. An intelligent, minimalist approach to design – check out the timber-and-glass chalets which spill lightly down the hillside – allows guests to immerse themselves in nature, to switch off from, and tune into, themselves.

A woman in a white robe standing at the balcony of a chalet overlooking the surrounding forest
Low key luxe chalets are designed for peace and relaxation
“Our vision of Wellness 2.0 is to help restore a person to their best state physically, mentally and spiritually. Santani's focus is on detoxing and cleansing which is essential for preventative care.”

– Vickum Nawagamuwage, Founder & CEO

Santani nestles among the rolling, greenery-clad hills of Central Sri Lanka
Santani nestles among the rolling, greenery-clad hills of Central Sri Lanka
Santani nestles among the rolling, greenery-clad hills of Central Sri Lanka
Santani nestles among the rolling, greenery-clad hills of Central Sri Lanka

The Vibe

Serenity, sanctuary and slow, sustainable living; a chance to find peace and escape from the fast-pace of modern life. Santani’s holistic approach to wellbeing is tailored towards preventative healthcare, offering a well-researched and effective wellness toolkit to manage your body, mind and spirit - before getting sick.

The Wellness Wow (Factor)

It may feel remote, but the resort is just an hour’s drive from Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city. Santani means ‘in harmony with’, and its Wellness 2.0 Programme reflects a commitment to creating internal and external harmony via Ayurveda, medical, detox, cleansing, diet, destress and yoga. Their approach has been so successful that 40% of Santani guests are now repeaters, and non-wellness guests are welcome too.

2 women  on yoga mats on all fours bringing their knee and head together
wooden dining table and chairs in a dining room with large windows overlooking greenery
a 2 story structure in the middle of a mountain surrounded by greenery
Nature, minimalist architecture, nutrition and movement aim to nurture and support
a woman in a yellow dress standing on a balcony looking out to green hills

The Treatments

The sustainable wellness approach brings guests into balance with nature, helping them accept nurture from themselves and others. The 6,000-square-foot tri-level spa has an open-air thermal saltwater soaking pool, glass-walled cedar wood sauna, and treatment rooms open to the surrounding paddy fields. Here, global health science innovations and Sri Lankan Ayurveda treatments promote greater mental, spiritual and physical well-being. Try the Personal Dosha Ayurveda Retreat to target specific health conditions or the Re-balancing Bliss for stressed out execs.

The Look

Designed around the concept of ‘ambalama’ the Sri Lankan word for ‘place of rest’, Santani’s minimalist architecture works to merge inside and out, with 16 mountain view chalets and 4 garden view chalets offering inspiring scenery, tons of privacy and lots and lots of fresh air. Guests are encouraged to slow down and reset, via deliberately pared down interiors and a digital detox (no TVs, and no in-room Wi-Fi, unless you ask). Instead, the focus is on the important tasks of relaxation, meditation and resting up along the journey of life. There’s a treetop-style terrace with deckchairs, an outdoor seating area with bonfire, a 16m infinity lap pool and a yoga pavilion.

Restful, pared down interiors with lounge chair and large floor to ceiling windows overlooking hills and greenery
Restful, pared down interiors guide one’s focus back to the self

The Cuisine

A soul-nourishing detoxing and cleansing diet. Guests can choose from vegetarian, vegan, juicing, keto, raw or simply healthy, hearty traditional fare. Culinary pleasures are at the forefront, with dishes like citrus and beetroot cured pink salmon with tarragon and horseradish sauce (keto), traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry with organic vegetables and chutney (Ayurvedic vegetarian) or spicy drumstick soup with roasted jack seeds (detox). Partake at the elevated restaurant or the open-air main pavilion lounge with biodynamic wine and fresh juice bar.

The New Moon Loves

Reset unhealthy lifestyle choices and prevent external health risks with the Santani Immune Boosting Detox which requires a minimum of 7 nights to give your immune system a well-deserved break from toxins. Includes a personalised wellness consult, body type analysis, strict cleansing and boosting diet plan, Ayurvedic and western detox cleansing, Ayurveda immunity boosting treatments and thermal salt baths. If you can spare the time, you can stay up to 21 days on this programme.

A woman in a red shirt doing yoga by the river
Riverside yoga for solitude and serenity
a colorful meal of lamb and vegetables on a white plate on a wooden surface
Delicious detoxing and cleansing cuisine

Santani – Kandy, Sri Lanka