We are a family of tea-makers and I suppose you could say accidental hoteliers, born from 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 history – people were longing to visit our tea estates so my father Merrill, brother Dilhan and I began thinking of ways to showcase our pristine 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. We were amazed at how much they loved their experiences - the hotel side of the business grew from this.
We formed a company, Resplendent Ceylon (Sri Lanka means “Resplendent Isle”), to 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 and then Wild Coast Tented Lodge. Resorts in the Cultural Triangle; near Sigiriya and Trincomalee are next.
My father Merrill, over 90 now, is still active in the business and although foremost a tea man (whenever he visits the resorts, he first checks 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. 15% of earnings before tax go to our MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.
Malik J Fernando