Cultural and architectural conservation
As much an anthropological immersion as a class in architecture, time within the ramparts of this cinnamon-scented citadel is a stroll through Portuguese, Dutch, British and Sri Lankan history. Amangalla has always played a significant role in this tiny 1588-built fortified town where 2,000 people still live and work. Spanning four centuries, Amangalla here in Galla – as Galle is called in Singhalese – is a cherished part of its heritage, known once upon a time as New Oriental Hotel. Pause for a cup of tea or a fresh king coconut juice — thambili — on Amangalla's terrace, and as sari-clad teachers walk past with their chattering schoolchildren, guests are reminded this hotel is very much a part of authentic local life with a deep connection to its community.
With an increasing percentage of the population switching to plant-based diets, many of Amangalla's guests now request a vegetarian or vegan menu. Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country with an abundance of seasonal fruits, and there are now strict regulations around chemical reduction in agriculture, organic dishes are assured, allowing the resort to create imaginative and delicious vegetable-based dishes. All spices are sourced from nearby villages — curry powder made from coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek, all roasted slowly to aromatic perfection.
Principled around provenance
Responsible sourcing and supporting local sellers are Amangalla’s priorities, and these ethics ensure that all that is eaten at this Aman property involves local and seasonal ingredients. Produce is purchased directly from the farmers. Even the minibars are stocked with local brands, with no imported brands, unless requested. Minimising food miles and decarbonising distribution systems helps to streamline the supply chain and keep delivery numbers lower, in turn helping to reduce Amangalla's emissions.
The ancient health system of Ayurveda informs much of the way of being and ensures Amangalla is in tune with the natural world. Local village farmers grow just for the hotel, and circularity is observed right down to creating compost from organic food waste. Eliminating disposable and plastic is a part of the holistic attitude, with food containers used for storage, never plastic cling-film wrapping. Attention is paid to details, such as the laundry service in Amangalla which is stored in cloth bags and baskets. Sri Lanka’s national grid can be thanked for ensuring that a decent percentage of the energy is drawn from hydroelectric power.
Supporting the coastline
Amangalla’s connection to wildlife and respect for biodiversity extends to freshwater programmes and support of the reforestation at Hiyare Rainforest Reservoir. Mangroves are universally recognised as important to protect, and as well as supporting such projects, guest experiences help raise awareness about the crucial role of these marine forests, which provide flood protection, carbon storage and nurseries for fish and crustaceans.
Inclusivity and equality
Many of the team have worked at Amangalla for almost two decades, and well over a third of the employees are female, compared to the national average of a quarter. The inclusivity extends further ensuring staff members, even those with disabilities, are supported so that they can work comfortably in their role. Amangalla also supports the school in Galle for deaf and blind students, with the hotel’s chefs offering complimentary cooking classes, improving their career prospects.
Amangalla invites guests to opt out of daily linen changes, and as a thank you, a donation is made to the charity providing people who are deaf and blind with much-needed services. This doesn’t result in compromised on housekeeping - simply a little less laundering.
Educating one other
In the staff canteen, explanations around the consumption of electricity, water use and food waste are a big topic, and from this everyone feels invested in what’s better for the environment. Buddhist values are prevalent among the extended network, since many Sri Lankans practise Buddhism. Amangalla helps the temples with cleaning and alms are given through the saffron-robed monks, lifting spirits and encouraging a sense of belonging for all.