We spent 30 days exploring Sri Lanka. We rented a car and drove all around the island, trying to see as much of Sri Lanka as possible.
It’s been a great but intense road trip. So, for our final days in Sri Lanka we decided to take it easy and stay at a nice beach resort in Bentota…
Why Visit Bentota?
Bentota is all about beaches, water sports, and relaxation.
Bentota is a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long Bentota Beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to the Bentota Ganga, or Bentota River.
Bentota is a laid back coastal town with a more serene atmosphere than most of the rest of the country (Sri Lanka can get quite hectic!).
Calm seas during the season, from November to April, make Bentota Beach ideal for snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, water-skiing and deep-sea fishing on a traditional outrigger canoe.
Other popular activities in and around Bentota are river safaris, a visit to the sea turtle conservation project or to the famous Kande Viharaya Temple and, for architecture lovers, a visit to Geoffrey Bawa’s Country Estate.
After having seen countless beaches all over Sri Lanka I have to agree that Bentota offers some of the country’s most beautiful and cleanest beaches with great opportunities for swimming and water sports.
Accommodation in Bentota ranges from 5-star luxury resorts to midrange and budget properties.
Where to Stay in Bentota: Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Review
My conclusion: Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa is a very comfortable 4-star beach resort. It’s the perfect location, incredible staff, and delicious food that make this resort a great choice for a few days of relaxation by the beach.
Quick Hotel Facts
- 165 rooms & suites, some with a sea view, some with a river view
- 3 restaurants, a café & a pool bar
- Outdoor swimming pool & jacuzzi
- Public beach access
- Kids club & organized activities
- Gift shops
- Water sports center
- Free WIFI
- Free parking
- Meeting Rooms
- Daily activities
- Transfer service available to the airport
The setting of this resort is perfect. Located on the part of Bentota Beach that is often nicknamed Paradise Island, it has the Bentota river on one side and the beach on the other side. Plus, it is located on the quieter part of an already relatively quiet beach.
Even when the hotel was fully booked I still felt I had the beach practically to myself. This doesn’t happen everywhere in Sri Lanka, as most popular beaches, such as Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa, get quite crowded. That being said, Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa offer a lively, touristy atmosphere because of all of the bars and restaurants you can find right on the beach. Bentota does not offer that. Bentota is more about relaxation with only a few resorts and guest houses dotted along a long stretch of beautiful beach.
Bentota is located just 65km (40 miles) south of Colombo which means it is relatively easy to get to from Colombo and the airport, making it a great location for a relaxing beach vacation.
Tip: don’t make the mistake we made and try to drive to the beach to find the resort. Although the resort is located on the beach, the lobby and parking are on the river side, from where they will take you by boat to the resort itself. You can find this location as “Ferry Centara Ceysands Resort” on Google Maps.
Our hotel room had a lovely view of the river. Facing the river instead of the pool and ocean made our room one of the quieter ones, which I really appreciated.
The room was comfortable, with all the amenities I expected in a 4-star resort. The bed was extremely comfortable – having a real duvet instead of just a sheet is something we hadn’t seen while traveling around Sri Lanka – and housekeeping was offered twice a day, which was a really nice extra touch. Other than that the rooms offer nothing special and it is definitely the resort experience and not the rooms itself that make the resort into a great stay.
Tip: some of the ocean view rooms offer direct access to the pool. That is a great feature, but keep in mind that the pool gets quite busy during the day and therefore these rooms will be noisier and less private.
Now this is what makes the Centara Ceysands Resort into such a great resort for a relaxing stay!
With a large pool, direct access to an incredible beach, daily activities, a water sports center, 3 restaurants, a café and a pool bar, there is enough to keep you entertained!
The Swimming Pool
The swimming pool is large and located right by the beach. It does get a bit crowded during the day since a lot of resort guests seem to spend their days here. So since I love swimming laps I got up early every morning (the pool opens at 7AM) and I would then still have the entire pool to myself.
Note that although signs say you can’t reserve sunloungers (such an annoying habit!), even at 7:05 several spots were already claimed by people leaving behind a towel or a few belongings…
The pool bar is a really nice feature and, at a premium, you can even book a private dinner right by the pool. The jacuzzi by the pool was a bit disappointing since the water is the exact same temperature as the pool and both close at 7PM.
The main restaurant, Café Bem, is where the buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. I wouldn’t normally say this about the buffet restaurant, but this was my favorite restaurant in the resort! Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food here was delicious, diverse and with new options every day.
The other two restaurants, 360 Restaurant (a seafood restaurant) and Suan Bua (a Thai restaurant) offer a more intimate atmosphere and great service. The menus in both restaurants I found a bit limited though and, especially when you compare them to local restaurants in the area, quite pricey. Vegetarian options are also limited here, while at Café Bem there are great vegetarian options.
Ceylon Club, the resort’s café, I found a lovely addition. It is open all day, perfect for a tea or coffee during the day and a drink at night. They also offer live music here every night which is a nice way to end your day.
Watersports & Other Activities
The resort has its own water sports center offering a great range of options. Think jet skiing, water skiing, banana boat rides, snorkeling, diving, fishing, river safaris and more.
Unfortunately where some resorts offer non-motorized water sports for free, here all water sports come at a fee.
The resort also publishes a list of activities every day. Think things such as yoga, a live cooking station and several activities for kids. Unfortunately, not many people seem to show up to these activities and therefore sometimes they are simply canceled.
And then there are all the things to do around the resort. I would definitely recommend exploring the beach. If you walk north along the beach, to the end of Paradise Island, you find a Buddhist temple, hidden behind lush vegetation. On your way there you will also pass Sky Club Paramotoring, who offer paramotoring right off the beach (for the adrenaline junkies among us…).
Walk south from the resort along the beach, past the Taj Bentota Resort & Spa, to find another beautiful beach.
And no matter how much you are looking for a relaxing vacation, I do recommend exploring a bit of Sri Lanka. Within short walking distance from the hotel you can visit the Aluthgama Monday Market, which will give you a nice view of local life. If you want to go a bit further I recommend a day trip to Galle Fort, a whale watching trip or longer trips to Sigiriya (an ancient rock fortress), Nuwara Eliya (to visit a tea plantation) or a national park (to go on a safari).
I highly recommend booking at least one spa treatment while staying at Centara Ceysands Resort.
The spa is great, the staff extremely friendly and the treatments good value for money. Unfortunately, the spa does not offer a sauna or steam room, but other than that it is pretty perfect.
Final Things to Know About the Resort
Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa is a larger resort that gets most of its guests through tour operators such as TUI and Kuoni. That attracts a certain type of traveler and creates a certain atmosphere.
It is clearly visible that the resort has been around for a good number of years and it could, therefore, do with some TLC and a deep clean, but maybe I am being too harsh and judge it more as a 5-star than a 4-star resort. The service at the resort is definitely 5-star and the best I have seen anywhere in Sri Lanka!
Prices start at US$ 100 per night. For that price, the resort offers really great value!
With all its facilities, its great location and very friendly, professional staff, the resort definitely qualifies as a good 4-star resort, perfect for a relaxing stay by the beach.
At certain times of the year prices for a standard room go up to around US$ 250 per night, and that is where I stop finding it good value for money. For a price like that, in a country like Sri Lanka, I would expect a more spacious room, better maintenance, and a less crowded pool area.
But, as mentioned before, many guests book this hotel through tour operators as a complete package (flights, hotel, and transfer for one price). If a package deal like that would work for you then you might be able to get an even better rate and that would definitely make this resort incredible value for money!
Tip: if you plan to spend most of your time at the resort and enjoy a drink, go for their ‘All Inclusive’ option. Especially drinks, but also meals, get somewhat expensive outside of their packages.
Why Stay at a Resort in Sri Lanka?
When I was a fierce independent traveler in my early twenties (on a tiny budget) I often questioned people who flew halfway across the world to then stay at a fancy resort surrounded by other foreigners, experiencing very little of the “real country”. But, then I moved to the Maldives where it was all about luxury resorts, and I started to understand the value of resorts…
Resorts in Sri Lanka definitely do offer the opportunity to see “the real Sri Lanka” and it is a nice break from hectic life. Whether that is your hectic life back home or a hectic month traveling around Sri Lanka…
Who is the Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Perfect For?
First of all Centara Ceysands is family friendly and therefore a great choice when traveling with kids. Between all the facilities the resort offers for kids and being on a beautiful beach with a generally calm ocean, and gently sloping beach, you will keep the kids entertained for quite a while.
But, if you just need a break from your busy life back home, are looking for a new destination to discover and would like to mix sightseeing with days by the pool, then this resort is a good option as well. From the resort you can easily organize day trips to nearby sights. Combine that with fun water sports activities, delicious food, and a spa treatment, and you will have yourself a perfect getaway!
Lastly, it worked well for me as an independent traveler as well. I just spent four weeks traveling all around Sri Lanka. I stayed in some remote places, some very beautiful places but also in some basic accommodation such as homestays and beach cabanas. Some of those came with hot water, some didn’t. Some offered complimentary breakfast, others just complimentary geckos and a cockroach or 2… After weeks of traveling from place to place, a few days relaxing in a comfortable resort was a welcome change!
About Centara Hotels & Resorts
Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading hotel operator. Its 68 properties span all major Thai destinations plus the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Laos, China, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
For more information go to Centarahotelsresorts.com
Visit Bentota – Final Thoughts
Even if a resort stay is not what you are looking for on your trip to Sri Lanka, Bentota is still worth visiting. Located relatively close to Colombo and the airport it’s a perfect location for a beachside break, even if it’s only for a few days. Besides several resorts, Bentota also offers a selection of nice guesthouses. Make sure to choose one close to the beach though, because that really is Bentota’s charm.
- 1 Month in Sri Lanka – Places to Visit and Places to Avoid
- Driving in Sri Lanka – 14 Things You Need to Know
- Interview With an Expat About Life in Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Hotel Review: Centara Chaan Talay Resort in Trat, Thailand
All pictures in this article are taken by my friend, travel partner, and photographer Sean Webb.
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Disclosure: My stay at Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa in Bentota was sponsored by Centara Hotels & Resorts. This however in no way affects my opinions. I would never recommend anything I didn’t enjoy myself and I only share my honest opinion.