The Galle Fort Hotel : A boutique hotel with an exquisite heritageBy Galle Fort Hotel on Monday, September 14th, 2015
Extracted from: http://newsfirst.lk/
Walking down past the beautiful Old Dutch Reformed Church built in 1755 next door to Amangalle and further down the street I came to the Dutch Fort Hotel. Managed by Mr. David Elgar an experienced hotelier and Australian, the Dutch Fort Hotel is a feast for the eyes and also for the lovers of the Forts history right back even further than the Portuguese. One of the suites was apparently the living area of the 14th Century Commander Chin Ho reminding us that the Chinese were here a full century before the Portuguese. The original foundation of this mansion is over 400 years old and was probably used by the Portuguese and Dutch as a trading office. The present hotel is a reflection of the grandeur of 400 years with the restoration completed by two enterprising foreign gentlemen who were experts at restoration. It was sold to a local family about 4 years ago and continues to be an attraction of old world charm and superior hospitality.
The hotel has 12 suites and averages almost full occupancy throughout the year at an average USD 250++. 50% of reservations are direct and the rest walk-ins and web based. General Manager David Elgar says he is very happy with his staff and is very content to be here. To understand the Galle Fort Hotel is to understand its history and the valuable contribution it is making towards tourism in Sri Lanka.
The Galle Fort was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. It is a historical archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years has stood the test of time, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. In 1988, UNESCO listed Galle Fort as a World Heritage Site. Prior to the departure of the most recent British administration the majority of properties in Galle were handed over to a predominantly Galle Muslim community. In those days other wealthy families would have used the GFT as weekend retreat.
Mr Azhar is the owner of a gem, jewellery, miners and exporters business, is located 3 shops down from the Galle Fort Hotel. He has been in the business for 50 years and his family are 3rd generation resident’s of Galle. His Uncle Mr Muhiden was the previous owner of GFH and conducted his gem distribution business from the hotel.
In 1999 the Sri Lankan government lifted the 100% tax on foreign ownership, which resulted in Australian, Karl Steinberg, and his Malaysian partner Christopher Ong purchasing the dilapidated and abandoned 17th century Dutch merchant’s house. Spending two years renovating the house using local craftsmen and traditional building techniques and by 2004 the Galle Fort Hotel opened.
The Galle Fort Hotel has won a number of awards including the 2007 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Distinction, for heritage conservation. It was the 2010 winner of ‘Sri Lanka’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ at the World Travel Awards. The hotel was again nominating in the 2015 World Travel Awards as Sri Lanka’s leading boutique hotel. In 2011 Colombo Fort Hotels an associate company of Lankem Ceylon PLC purchased the hotel.