We are a family of tea-makers and I suppose you could say accidental hoteliers, born from of our commitment to ethical tea production and a genuine pride in sharing our country with interested visitors from abroad. My father, Merrill Fernando, founded Dilmah Tea back in 1988, at the tender age of 58!
As the first and only producer-owned tea brand in Sri Lanka – and with the country’s rich colonial history – people were longing to visit so my father Merrill, brother Dilhan and I began thinking of ways to showcase our precious Ceylon tea country to visitors from abroad. Originally these were unofficial tea tours with visitors staying in our estate managers homes, touring the factories and the plantations with our team. We were amazed how much they loved their experiences and the hotel ‘business’ (we still look at it like a hobby!) grew organically from this.
We formed a company, Resplendent Ceylon, that will develop and manage these unique resorts. The goal is to offer the curious traveller a range of experiences linked to Sri Lanka’s history, culture and nature. The first resort was the award winning Ceylon Tea Trails in the Central Highlands. This was followed by Cape Weligama, a luxe cliffside retreat near Galle that has set a new benchmark for luxury. A beach camp in Yala National Park and a resort near Sigiriya, in the Cultural Triangle, are under development.
My father Merrill, now 85, is still active in the business and although foremost a tea man (whenever he visits Tea Trails or Cape Weligama, he first check on how the tea is stored and served!), he is proud that we have created a unique hotel business and that like Dilmah tea, our resorts strive to be an ethical & sustainable business. 10% of profits go to our MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.
Malik J Fernando