Grant Winner - Handun Villas & Restaurants
About the Business
Located in a scenic natural bay in Talalla in the south of Sri Lanka, Handun Villas is a boutique hotel and restaurant offering travellers the perfect beach getaway. The villa is housed in a walawwa (colonial era manor) built in 1895, the ancestral home of the Handunnetti family who runs the boutique hotel.
In operation since 2016, Handun Villas was instrumental in making the region of Talalla a potential tourist destination and helping uplift the local community. It was also one of the first boutique hotels to market responsible travel and build an ecosystem of sustainability into the day-to-day operations. All supplies are sourced from Talalla and the team has spearheaded a number of CSR projects in order to give back to the community. With a female founder and Managing Director, Handun Villas strives to balance the gender ratio when employing staff and creates employment opportunities for women in the local community.
Creating Sustainable and Marketable Tourism Experiences
Handun Villas believes that it is important to create interactive activities and experiences, such as “Cooking With Sri Lankan Chefs” in order to retain travellers within Talalla for longer periods of time. They are also committed to creating more managerial roles for women within the industry, and believe that developing experiences such as these will help do that. The grant will assist them to design the infrastructure needed to create new and engaging experiences, based on the culture and way of life practised by the community. They will set up a traditional Sri Lankan kitchen and restaurant to offer the experience to guests, which they hope will help preserve the region’s traditional methods of cooking.
By creating more sustainable experiences such as this, the team at Handun Villas hopes to have a positive impact on increasing the number of nights a traveller spends in Talalla. This will directly benefit the community by increasing income earning opportunities and paving the way for more community involvement in tourism.
“When I read about the “Tourism Alliance resilience grant program” I was determined to apply for the grant. I was shortlisted to the first 30 applicants out of 320 and thereafter my proposal was approved making me one of the top final 10 grantees. I’m very impressed with the way the interviews were carried out and the transparency of the application process. I am an SME sector female Entrepreneur and this grant is a huge morale booster for me as well as my team.”
– Nayomi Handunnetti, Director, Handun Villas