Our family spent one week at “HikkaHome” villa and had a great experience. Not only was the house beautiful, with great extras, but the rental agency “HikkaVillas” and their staff were extremely responsive and supportive, ensuring that we had the best stay possible. The home is quite new, as we were only the third party to have stayed there. It is, as far as I can tell, both well-constructed and well-appointed. We remarked several times how happy we would be if we could have taken the house (and the pool) back home with us to live in long term.
Pros: huge, open, airy spaces with bright white tile floors make the home feel light and bright on even rainy days; great pool with “infinity” edge, shallow area for the kids (or for sitting chest-deep in a chair on a hot day with a drink), and surrounded by a pleasing contemporary-styled garden space; four decent-sized bedrooms and one large master with en-suite bath would make the home great for a large family or a group of travelling companions; two living areas, one dining area, and one upstairs sitting area also go to support the concept of renting with a large group or large family, as folks could spread out and one could have a lot of people stay the day at the house without feeling crowded onto one another; location of the home was fine for what we were after, and we never had to look for more than two or three minutes to find a tuk-tuk on the street to take us to the beach, shopping, etc. (our total tuk-tuk expenses for the week might have amounted to USD 20, on the high side). The people that support the Villa and the rental process are really top-notch, in our opinion. Chanaka and tour-guide/troubleshooter Chat were always available and immensely helpful to us whenever we needed anything, from replacement medicine from the pharmacy, to ensuring that the water heater was working for us properly (it was), to having our laundry taken and dried, pressed, and folded, when we had a few too many rainy days in a row to dry it in house, which was a huge help to us. The owner of the house and the support staff even went to the length of buying and placing a lit/decorated Christmas tree in the living room a few days before Christmas, along with festive holiday decorations around the house for us. What a nice touch it was, and definitely appreciated! On many occasions, we thanked our stars that we were able to stay in such a nice, big, well-done villa as opposed to a hotel room.
Opportunities for improvement: Though I hesitate to write anything here, because we loved the house and the job the support staff did, I should note a few things here that could make a great stay perfect. The main kitchen range top was not yet hooked up with cooking gas, though we understand that that is next to be installed, as the house is new. There was a working cooktop in the adjoining service kitchen powered by gas, but as the service kitchen is adjacent to the covered carport and open-vented through slats, it becomes quite a mosquito magnet when cooking dinner. (That said, though, the service kitchen did make us wonder if, given some prior coordination with the rental company, a larger group staying in the house could reasonably find a local cook for the week who could purchase local ingredients and make big breakfasts and dinners of quite good Sri Lankan food for the entire group—if we went back with friends or more family that’s what we would be after.) On the note of the slates permitting bugs through to the kitchen, many of the rooms are vented as such, with wood slat vents that do not close. Bugs enter freely, and one must burn mosquito coils to keep them at bay. We didn’t focus on the bugs too much, but they did show up in force some nights when we didn’t have the coils burning in the right places. For us, at least, if the vents had been covered with mosquito mesh screens the house would have been about perfect. Also, we experienced some environmental noise at night, with a neighbor dog barking here and there, moderate neighbor noise, and the daily playing of “it’s a small world after all…” on some local delivery truck making its rounds around 6am. But, then again, we were to bed fairly early with little ones, so if you were a group getting home later, partying a bit, etc. then you’d be the ones making the most noise, and none of that would matter.
On Hikkaduwa: We did NO research at all on beach towns in the area before renting the villa, so I cannot speak to Hikkaduwa as it might compare to other locales. I will say, though, that for what we wanted out of the holiday, which was playing at the beach, in/by the pool, making one or two day trips out of town to see the sites, doing some local shopping for crafts, and relaxing at home, the place suited us perfectly. There is a reliably good beach just 1.5 km or so down the road, a strip of local shops, restaurants, and eat shacks, and beachfront hotel “Chaya Tranz Hikkaduwa” that we visited to eat lunch by their pool, the occasional milkshake, etc. There are several food store options nearby, including Food City, for basic groceries, and a Sunday Market on the same main road as the villa, for fresh local produce and handcrafts. Like mentioned above, tuk-tuk is a cheap and easy way to get around and we never had to walk more than a hundred yards or so to find one out on the main road. The drivers will always start with a high price (Rs300). We just found that it was best to smile a lot and remind them nicely before setting off that we never had to pay more than Rs 100 to get down to the beach or the store, and all of them were fine with it (which makes me wonder if even at that price we were overpaying).
One note on transportation: after looking around on-line and pricing transportation options from the airport, we decided to have the HikkaVillas team take us both ways, which ended up being a great way to go. For USD90 (the same price some cab companies were quoting online for a small car for hire), Chat and a driver picked us up at the airport in their large van, with room enough for eight to comfortably ride, watch dvds on a fairly large fold-down video screen, and make the 2+ hour ride from the airport more tolerable. Well worth it.
All in all, even had the support staff not been so amazing, the stay at the villa would have been well worth it just for the physical living space and the great swimming pool alone. That said, though, having the support of Chanaka, Chat, and the house cleaners on call, including the very nice house owner (whose name I am sorry I have forgotten) made our family’s stay exceptional.
PS- don’t miss going out onto the driveway just around sunset time to look up and see waves upon waves of huge fruit bats flying northeast for the night.
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