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Reviewed 12 October 2010

The hotel is right on the beach and it is a fantastic beach. We stayed in the Deluxe room with a sea view which was awesome. The hotel also has a fabulous pool, large with a sunken bar and a separate kids pool.
However, where this hotel lacks is in the service. Room service was very slow and service in the restaurants was also slow and unresponsive. The hotel was full during our stay and there were just not enough people to handle a full dining room. This was primarily in the breakfast buffet, we tried the Chinese restaurant as well as the Italian one and there the (ala carte) service was very good. The restaurant food was fabulous and affordable, while the breakfast buffet was only average. The hotel could also do with a bit of upgrading, the rooms look a little worn out in places.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled with family
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Thank minesweeper8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 October 2010

My Wife and I stayed here for 14 days. the first week we went on two overnight trips. The first to Yala National Park and stayed at the Yala Village (tip-top trip). the second we went to Kandy and stay in the ‘something’ Reach Hotel. (massive rooms). The Tea Plantation was fab.

The hotel was excellent with good service. We had ants in our room and were moved to a suite when I mentioned it to the reception desk…… and they gave us a bottle of red wine.

Food was good, pool good, nearby restaurants were good…..MALLI’S across the train tracks was our favourite.

All in all a fab hotel with tip-top service……. Just didn’t like the 3hrs drive from the airport…62Km ??? but took us 3hrs and they are TOTALLY MAD drivers!!!!!

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Nazthedog123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 October 2010

I had booked this hotel through Hayes and Jarvis on a bed and breakfast basis. We arrived after a 4 hr journey from the airport which is interesting to say the least. It was crazy. After checking in we were taken to our room (325) which seemed fine.To be honest we didnt really take much notice as we were hungry and exhausted after travelling for nearly 24hrs.The following morning we woke up to a lovely view of the sea from our balcony and had a look around the room, now as previous reviews say they are definitely not 5 star standard but are clean comfortable and spacious. The food and drinks are expensive for sri lankan prices.Expect to pay english prices.We only ate at the palms restaurant once and while it was ok we didnt think £60 was worth the money for a buffet style meal.The breakfast buffet was very good and the choice is excellent. The pool area is beautiful, overlooking the sea and listening to the waves crashing was really relaxing, even during the water polo.I do think that this is the area worthy of the 5 star rating and not the rooms. All the staff are a credit to the hotel and are very helpful. As other reviews have said about the people outside the hotel ,they can be annoying and do insist on talking to you even when you tell them you are not interested. They do also say that they work at your hotel when they dont. Just tell them you are staying at a different hotel and you will see what i mean. The sea was to rough to go into while we were there but the beach is nice to walk along. Internet is available at £3 for 30 mins.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank EnglandJenny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 October 2010

We stayed at the Taj for 8 days at the beginning of October after spending a couple of days in Negombo, a beach resort in the North. We had a brilliant time and the hotel and their staff did everything in the power to help make this happen.

Firstly, our welcome to the Taj was typically Sri Lankan; everyone had a smile for us, a nice cold face towel, a cold drink, and a flower garland. We were shown to our room by Dumith, who I will say more about later! The room was very clean, along with the bathroom. I will agree with other reviews on this hotel stating that the bathrooms are dated, and certainly not what you would expect of a 5 star hotel. That said, they serve the purpose for which they are designed, and if you are in Sri Lanka, the bathroom should not really be high on your list of things to see and do. The Taj has recently undergone the name change from 'Exotica' to 'Vivanta' and the upgrade to the rooms will follow shortly according to the staff. The upgrade will include rooms and bathrooms and I would predict good things from this.

The reception itself is most certainly 5 star, very spacious, very airy and well air-conditioned. There are always plenty of staff on hand to meet your every whim, although they can also be reached from the phone in your room and will deal with your request promptly, efficiently, and more importantly, happily.

The pool is excellent, along with the poolside bar. Great views of the ocean and the sunset can be seen from here. We were there whilst the resort is apparently out of season, but sun loungers are aplenty, and there are staff on hand to provide you with clean towels whenever you need them. Pool sports and aerobics sessions are organised by the staff for you to join in should you wish.

We were breakfast only so we could choose when and where to eat whilst out and about during the days but the hotel has four restaurants, 3 of which we sampled during our time there. They are all cheap compared to UK prices, but very high when compared to restaurants in and around Bentota itself. A mid-price range 3 course meal with a couple of drinks each would probably set you back around £40 - £50. The same can be had outside of the hotel for almost half the price. I'll go into more detail on those at the end.
The Oriental restaurant doesn't have much of a choice of the usual Chinese dishes, most are centred around seafood, which as a non-seafood lover restricted my choice. The Sea View (I think) restaurant is similar in its lack of choice, although the presentation and quality of the food in there more than makes up for that. The Palms restaurant certainly has more choice on the a la carte menu than the rest, the buffet that is available to the full board guests is also available, although at £15 a head is probably best avoided. If you are looking for a plethora of Westernised dishes, the hotel will disappoint, but if like me, you enjoy trying local cuisine then they do a good range of Sri Lankan and Indian dishes in each of the restaurants. The room service menu has a good choice and can be ordered 24-7, which came in handy for us a couple of times after we had returned from long days out.

The bar close to the lobby has entertainment on each night and although it mostly involves renditions of Abba and Elton John favourites, they are mostly backed up by a real band as opposed to a karaoke machine. A couple of the nights involved a more cultural offering and the hotel do obviously make an effort, even if the guests don't (notable by their absence, although again, we were there out of season.) The hotel has a nightclub called 'my kind of place' with a DJ playing the usual selection of chart songs. We went in on Saturday night at 9pm and were the first, and only customers for the 30 minutes we were in there. I wouldn't recommend Sri Lankan hotels for an Ibiza-type appetite for nightlife! There is a bar called the shack which is out on the grounds and looks out onto the sea, they also have BBQ nights and seafood nights which I think are accompanied by a fee should you choose to eat.

Our room was looked after by Urantha, a very friendly and polite man, like most Sri Lankans. It was kept immaculate (by us, and continued by him!) A turndown service is also offered in the evenings with a light tap on the door around 8pm.

Hotel amenities are plentiful, with business suites, a fitness suite (tiny, but useful as long as there aren't more than 3 of you in there) and internet terminals in the main lobby. My complaint about this would be that the hotel charge an ridiculous amount of £3 per half an hour for usage of the WiFi available in each room. I would imagine its the same for the internet terminals. The pool table in the main bar is chargeable which I find also ridiculous, although to be fair, when we went to the bar to sign for it, the barman waved us away. There are a couple of shops in the hotel for anything you've forgotten, along with souvenirs if you want to pay twice the going rate. There is a hairdressers which I made use of during my stay, a gents cut was a mere £7. My wife had a manicure which she unfortunately wasn't at all happy with, so a word of caution.

The Spa which is part of the hotel 'Jiva' has a multitude of treatments. My wife had a full body wrap and scrub, I took advantage of a full back and shoulder massage and exfoliation type thing. From the moment we stepped into the sauna pre-treatment to the herbal tea whilst relaxing on the loungers afterwards the whole experience for the two of us was amazingly relaxing, and on the penultimate day of the holiday, came at a perfect time. If you're interested the two treatments combined came at a cost of around £80. We spent around two hours there from beginning to end and we would have paid twice that for the experience we had. You are SO looked after!

The beach was absolutely superb, and although it was a red-flag time of year (swimming at your own considerable risk) the warm seas just have to be experienced. The hotel itself has what could be its very own private cove sandwiched between the two main longer beaches. Whilst the beach itself still has its own salesman and entrepreneurs who would love to take you on tours, boat trips, elephant rides etc, they are nowhere near as incessant as in Negombo. We took a couple of strolls south along the beach and apart from one request to eat in a particular restaurant (which we did on the way back) we were 'unmolested' each time.

As I have noticed this review is becoming huge, I'll wrap up by saying that the hotel itself is beautiful. However, if you are looking at 5 star hotels in Sri Lanka, don't expect them to be 5 star in every way that a Western 5 star hotel may be. You certainly won't have paid 5 star prices for them. Bentota itself is a lovely place, and Aluthgama has to be seen. I'll review the places themselves in the correct forums if anyone would like to read them.

Finally, Dumith was the man who showed us to our room and during our time there always made time to speak to us to see how things were. He is the nicest Sri Lankan we met, and given the nature of the Sri Lankan, that is an endorsement he should be rightfully proud of.

We would most certainly return to the Taj when we hopefully return to Sri Lanka in the next few years, by which time I'm sure any of the imperfections will have been ironed out.

Overall, a great holiday and Sri Lanka is indeed, a paradise island!

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Playa_de_Blues
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 October 2010

we stayed in this hotel in september it was exceptional the staff were friendly , nothing was to much trouble , hotel is in very good order rooms are just as the brochures describe and show in pictures the grounds were well maintained pool area spotlessly clean plenty of towels and sun beds good choice of areas to relax either by the pool or in the garden, Hotel is in a beautiful area , and within walking distance to local shops and restraunts. beautiful walks on beach in either direction. our room was cleaned and bedding changed every day fresh towels twice a day complimentry water left twice a day and no limit on the amount of water . We were booked for room and breakfast and the breakfasts were outstanding spoilt for choice. A few mornings that my husband did not feel like going to dinning room there was no problem having his breakfast delivered to our room .I cannot say one bad thing about this hotel or the location would go back again in the morning if i could and would recomend this hotel to everyone.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank globetrecker_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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