Barberyn Beach review
Rebalancing ayurveda resort in Sri Lanka
The Quick Read: Barberyn Beach Ayurveda Resort is nestled into a hill that slopes gradually down to the sea in the southern tip of Sri Lanka near Weligama village. It is the sister resort to the Barberyn Reef Resort in Beruwela, and a popular choice for solo travellers. A wide range of ayurvedic programmes are on offer to purify and pacify the body, and a minimum of two weeks is recommended when possible. It is almost worth a trip for the four-hand massage alone – an exemplar of the resort’s thorough and nurturing ethos. Find out all about Ayurveda.
More on the ayurveda programme: You start with an initial consultation with an ayurvedic doctor, after which a personal programme is devised for you, combining a dual pronged internal and external herbal and mineral attack, which will be amended and modified during your stay according to your needs. While there are three stages to the ayurvedic purification process to prepare, purify and pacify the body, the programmes vary significantly according to each guest’s needs – for example there might be more focus on diet, and less massage for someone in a frail physical condition. The doctor is the boss – so it is more a case of following your itinerary, than plucking individual treatments. Although a minimum of two weeks is recommended for the complete process, a shorter programme of any length can be created.
More on the ayurveda treatments: The practitioners are experienced, kind and apparently omniscient in knowing who you are and what you require (or so you hope as the acupuncturist slings the needles in assuredly with barely a word). The ayurvedic massage is more soothing, with two practitioners sweeping the physical limitations of your body into an infinite flow of energy with their four hands combined, while other treatments include a fragrant coriander inhalation for loosening the chest and sinuses that smells divine and a scintillating head massage. A regular treat is a trip to the herb garden, where you are lain out on a sun-lounger and covered with herbal oil packs and cucumber in-front of the labelled lunch greens – later, it is all sluiced off in a peat-coloured herbal bath. Everything smells delicious, which aids the faith in the system.
More on the oral herbal remedies: There might be a point when you are unsure if you can ingest more health, as your pigeon hole in the clinic is filled to the brim with different potions to be taken with honey or water at different times of the day. It is an Alice in Wonderland world in which you are instructed to drink this, sip this, take this, breathe. But it is amazing how fast you get accustomed to mixing a powder with bee honey for your throat twice a day, dissolving a paste in warm water, or glugging back something dark and ominous after meals. Don’t worry about what exact herbs you are imbibing, as even when asked directly the doctors are lost for translation, and just say ‘yes, herbs’. Just know that copious amounts of plant goodness are turning you into a herb soup of healing, as everything is chased down with thermoses of warm water.
More on the yoga: The magnificent yoga room opens out to sun-adorned sea views at the 6am and 5pm classes. Don’t expect the kind of vigorous flow you might be used to in Western classes, as the yoga is more explorative, focusing on holding postures and stretching, and sometimes working with partners. The class content changes frequently so you will learn something new, while the young Sri Lankan teacher is bendy and enterprising. Small clusters of mixed level Chi Gung practitioners can be seen channelling chi in the garden with an instructor.
More on the property: The core building harbours the health centre, the arts shop and the dining-room, while the yoga and meditation pavilion are found nearer the sea, with the swimming-pool and beach bar. The bedroom blocks are built into the hillside, facing the sea, and sprawl out into the valley. The design of the resort is somewhat confusing at first, but once you have found your way along the corridors it all clicks into place. There is a real sense of space – lush rolling greens, high atriums and buildings that sieve the light through. There’s a sitting area by the clinic, where guests gather on white sofas to chat animatedly about their personal itineraries or potions, or listen to music and a library to pocket yourself away in. The décor is slightly kooky with dazzling buddhas and ornate pictures, and there’s a slight conference-hall feel to the main building, which feels strangely comforting.
More on the bedrooms: The 60 bedrooms, which are mostly taken as single occupancy, have ochre-coloured walls and feel bright and airy, with ceiling fans, mosquito nets, balconies and no-frills ensuite bathrooms. The beds are fine, but not total otherworldly clouds, in keeping with the running theme of practicality. There are three types of room, varying in size and proximity to the sea. It might be preferable to be higher to ensure your sea view is not wiped out by foliage.
Food and drink: The pink and quirky dining-room is two floors up in the main building, with open sides to embrace the sea view. Special soups, juices and teas appear as if by magic at each meal, and are specific to you. There is no alcohol or tobacco or sugar at the resort, though there is black tea for the caffeine cravers, if the delicious and enigmatic herbal tea doesn’t sate you. Breakfast might be a plate of fresh papaya and mango over yoghurt, nuts and dried fruits, while lunch could be steamed white fish, with curried vegetables and salads. On rare occasions a supper of soup, vegetable dumplings and curry is served, to save your buffet legs.
Fellow guests: The resort attracts German and Swiss doctor-looking types, groups of close girlfriends and the solitary retreater keen to totally escape and de-stress. It’s not good for itchy youngsters, but is great for those keen to avoid young children, as there are none.
What’s lowly: The idea of surviving two weeks in Sri Lanka without a sublime cocktail as the sun melts down is challenging – a clandestine mission to the colonial-style Amangalla in Galle for a mango bellini might do more good than harm as is only a half hour tuc-tuc ride away.
Getting there: The resort is situated on Weligama beach, a hot spot for surfing. It is a 140km drive south from Colombo airport, but the resort offers transport free of charge, with the option to spend a night at Barberyn Reef Resort to break up the four-hour journey.
Costs: From €170 (£140) for two people per night sharing a room or from €120 (£100) per person per night in a room alone for full board, accommodation and service charges, plus €490 (£410) per person for a week’s ayurveda programme – shorter programmes available on request.
Reviewed by Connie Allfrey
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