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The Mount Lavinia Hotel
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Author:  Rohan2 [ Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:55 pm ]
Post subject:  The Mount Lavinia Hotel

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The Mount Lavinia Hotel - One of the oldest and most beautiful hotels

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@ SO/JO

The Mount Lavinia Hotel is one of the oldest and most beautiful hotels in Sri Lanka. Despite the many five star hotels dotting the city of Colombo, it has still managed to hold its position as one of the favoured locations for many receptions including weddings.

The hotel retains the old world charm and elegance of the colonial era, combined with the most modern facilities. The 275-roomed hotel has four restaurants, a swimming-pool, shopping arcade, business centre and sports facilities.

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The beginning of the hotel is legendary and is steeped in romance. The year was 1805, our country was under British rule and George III was the King. Sir Thomas Maitland, who was a soldier, Member of Parliament, Privy Councillor and member of the Board of Control of the East India Company arrived in the then Ceylon, as the appointed Governor of the British king.

The governor, then 46 years of age, is said to have fallen in love with Lovina Aponsuwa, a girl of mixed Portuguese and Sinhala descent, who was said to be unsuitable for the governor's position in life. Sir Maitland built his residence in an area known as Galkissa (the name is thought to have derived from Gal-vissa or twenty boulders).

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The house was situated on a rocky headland, the only elevated land on the western shore, and looked out over the bay. The lovers met at this beautiful mansion "laid out in mahogany and calamander wood", with its white columns, polished wooden floors, elaborately-designed wooden ceilings and wide windows. It is said that they continued to meet there for seven years until Maitland left Ceylon in 1811. Before his departure, he is said to have gifted Lovina a large piece of land.

The house was also the residence for other Governors, including Sir Edward Barnes. People started referring to the Governor's Mansion as "Lavinia House", the name Lovina somehow being transformed into Lavinia. Gradually the headland itself (Galkissa) came to be called "Mount Lavinia".

Over the years, the Governor's mansion became a holiday home for foreign visitors, a hospital during the war years and later, one of the first and finest hotels in the country. The list of foreign visitors to the hotel is endless and include King Leopold of Belgium, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, writer Somerset Maugham and actors like Vivian Leigh, Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck.

The colonial architecture of the once original residence of Sir Thomas Maitland and Sir Edward Barnes is now known as the Governor's Wing. It comprises 40 large rooms with wooden floors and large windows that open out to the sea. The Governor's Suite, built on two levels and furnished in old colonial style, is an indication of the luxury and charm of yesteryear.

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