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Fort Bazaar's central courtyard, a sanctuary for sense and soul

A teardrop from Serendib

Does nostalgia end up having far too easy a way with me? I suppose there’s a ring of truth to this. I’ve been compelled by the textures of the past, from ever since I can remember.

Exploring Sri Lanka’s Galle

At Fort Bazaar on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, an earthy interpretation of luxury takes a writer back in time.

Does nostalgia end up having far too easy a way with me? I suppose there’s a ring of truth to this. I’ve been compelled by the textures of the past, from ever since I can remember. My bureau of travels and writings lies tinged with the fabric and the fragrances of times gone by, my navigational compass automatically attuned towards horizons and desires drenched in vintage. Perhaps it’s a sense of longing that lies at the heart of this, the need to hold on to things and places and people often already gone.

But in the courtyard of Fort Bazaar – the Teardrop Hospitality Group’s white-accented star, I’m finding an undeniable affirmation to my love affair with wistfulness. This tango with the past has landed me, yet again, smack dab in the heart of something special. I’m in the coastal gem of Galle for an encounter with relaxation and resonance. Fortune and good judgement having played their parts, Fort Bazaar is my home for the next three nights. This is the sort of address with which I’m preconditioned to forming an immediate connection.

Galle's outlying beaches are their best at dawn
Galle’s outlying beaches are their best at dawn

Fort Bazaar used to be a 17th-Century townhouse. Keeping the original skeleton (together with a defining central courtyard tree) in place, Teardrop has transformed the property with rare amounts of finesse. When the Group’s Johanna Jameel tells me about photographs from the somewhat recent past, I’m taken aback to find derelict row houses of rooms, lying idle since the 1950s. It was Teardrop’s decade-log resolve that metamorphosed the image into what stands before my eyes now – a rich repository of past and authenticity, with credence given to the address’ original British and Dutch colonial heritage.

I feel a palpable buzz to my new home. It revels in the white and lime green timbre of its colour palette; it comes to life in the lilting cadence of a courtyard dappled with divans, lamps that flicker with nonchalance come nightfall, a sprinkling of red tables and chairs, and an air of serenity that compels writers to reach for their pens; and it sparkles in the communal vibe of its mainstay – the Church Street Social Restaurant & Bar – which, being accessible from the main road, is everyone’s entry point to the property. There is a quiet grace to everything I’m coming across. This is an interpretation of luxury that believes in holding back, rather than showing off.
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© This article was first published in Aug-Sept 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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