Located just half an hour away from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport is the bustling seaside town of Negombo. Though Negombo is not typically high up on the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka, it is home to Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, a leading Ayurvedic retreat and hotel in the country. Ayurveda has been practiced in Sri Lanka for thousands of years and to many it is not just a form of medicine, but rather a way of life. The name stems from two Sanskrit words, “Ayuh” (life) and “Veda” (science or knowledge).
Many Sri Lankan kings were also Ayurvedic physicians or proponents of Ayurveda, and this meant that many Ayurvedic therapists enjoyed a prominent spot in the social hierarchy. One of these kings, King Buddadasa, is credited with the Sri Lankan saying “If you can’t be the king, be a healer.”
At Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, ancient treatments are put into practice by qualified Ayurveda physicians on the beautiful and lush grounds. The open-air structures, courtyards, gardens and low-rise buildings help to create the feeling that you are stepping into a traditional Sri Lankan village, and once you discover the delicious food, beautiful rooms and stunning pool you will wish you could stay for longer.
The Rooms at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions
The retreat has 12 villas and 24 rooms, and I stayed in a comfortable standard room located right next to one of the treatment centres. The split-level room featured simple and elegant wooden decor and had a sofa, wardrobe, massive queen-sized bed, safe and air-conditioning unit. There was no TV and no plug socket by the bed, but isn’t that the point of staying at an Ayurveda retreat?
The bathroom amenities are simple but sufficient – the soap is, of course, Ayurvedic as well and contains a blend of turmeric, venivel, margosa, sandalwood and aloe vera. Don’t worry, I only recognized about 50% of the ingredients as well! Wifi is free and the signal was fairly consistent throughout the hotel and in the room as well as by the pool.
If you’re looking to book something a little more upscale, I had a peek into one of the private gardens within a villa, and will definitely book myself into one of these pavilions for my next visit.
Jetwing is family-owned and operates more than two dozen boutique hotels across Sri Lanka; their hotels and staff are famous for their unique brand of Sri Lankan hospitality as well as their dedication to sustainability. One of the things that I loved about staying at Jetwing is the active effort to conserve water and energy. For example, water is provided in glass bottles from Jetwing’s own water purification and bottling plant, and waste water is processed to be reused in the gardens.
The Facilities at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions
The pool is surrounded by lush greenery and is the perfect place to spend your time before and after ayurvedic treatments. Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions has no direct beach access, but the beach is just a hop and skip away – I stopped by Negombo beach to watch the sunset but it was a far cry from the pristine beaches of Sri Lanka’s southern coast and was quite polluted and extremely busy. With a pool like this, there’s not much sense in trying to beat the crowds at the beach.
While you may be expecting a raw food menu (rabbit food, anyone?) with nothing but fruit and vegetables, rest assured that there is a wide selection of food options, all prepared by an Ayurveda chef. Take your pick from vegetable fricassee, pan seared chicken breast with cajun spices, grilled beef tenderloin, sauteed jumbo prawns, oven baked whole paraw fish and many many more choices. Warm water is served with your meals – this is an Ayurveda practice that is thought to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis (contraction of muscles that moves food along the digestive system).
There is no gym but open-air yoga classes are offered every morning at 6:30 am – the class fee is US$20 per person and classes are 1 hour long.
The Ayurveda Facilities
I had learned about the Doshas during yoga teacher training but have never had an Ayurveda consultation or treatment. According to Ayurveda, there are 3 main body types, AKA “Doshas”: Vata, Pitta and Kosha. Without going too much into each individual Dosha, the idea is that we are born with a certain makeup of the 3 Doshas (our “nature”) and these do not change throughout our lifetime but 1 Dosha may be dominant over the others.
Our unique, individual constitutions give insight not just into our bodies, but also dictates our mental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics as well. Occasionally we may experience imbalances in these Doshas which manifest in different types of symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes, difficult in breathing and so on. Ayurvedic treatment focuses on rebalancing the Doshas.
Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions has 2 treatment centres (open from 8 am to 5 pm) and I visited the Veda Arana. The “spa” was more reminiscent of a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) office rather than a beauty spa. Qualified resident therapists dispense treatments and all of them hold a Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine. There are a number of treatment options including multi-day packages (from 3 days up to 30 days), special preventative programmes focusing on detoxification, weight loss and stress relief as well as curative programmed designed to target hypertension, gastritis, diabetes and arthritis.
Because I was only able to stay for a limited amount of time, I decided to go for a consultation and 45-minute treatment. My consultation was with a female Ayurveda therapist and one of the first things she did was take my pulse by placing her index and middle fingers on my wrist. She then pressed firmly on my forehead, temples, eyes and cheeks before asking me a number of questions:
- how do you feel in general?
- do you have any allergies?
- do you get headaches?
- do you experience any backache?
- how is the quality of your sleep?
- how is your appetite?
- how regular are your bowel movements? (c’mon doc, buy a girl a drink first!)
- do you feel lethargic during the day?
- how is your breathing?
- do you experience any gas and bloating?
- how do you approach work? Slowly or do you try to get through a project quickly?
- how is your attention span?
After I gave my answers, the therapist advised that my constitution is Kapha-Pitta. A few qualities of this constitution include denseness, heaviness (prone to weight gain), stability, steadiness, oiliness and “heatiness”. In terms of personality, she said that people with this constitution can often be very decisive, and once their minds are made up it is very difficult to change. Kapha-Pitta types may also become extremely absorbed in tasks and be overly focused.
The therapist noted that Ayurveda treatments are ongoing and longer term, so while a “one-off” treatment may feel amazing, it is just scratching the surface of what Ayurveda can do. She recommended that I go for an oil massage focused on calming the nervous, lymphatic and circulatory system to address my issues with insomnia and lethargy.
I was directed into the treatment room and asked to change into paper knickers (translation: underwear). I don’t like intense fragrances so was pleasantly surprised that the smell of the oil was very mild and earthy rather than floral. Over the next 45 minutes a therapist poured warm herbal oil all over my body and massaged my body from head to toe. Bliss. Just a warning: this type of massage is very, very, oily. Oilier than anything I’ve ever experienced, and at the end of the treatment I was advised to keep the oil on for 1 hour before washing it off.
All-in-all, I had a wonderful (albeit short) stay at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions. The atmosphere of the property is relaxed and is the perfect place to unwind. In fact, I would love to host a yoga and Ayurveda retreat there one day! The decor is uniquely Sri Lankan and I took about 500 photos of these beautiful hand-painted doors. If you are looking for a place to unwind, click here to book your stay at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions!
The hotel’s location is convenient and offers incredibly easy access to the international airport. The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating, and were the perfect Sri Lankan hosts. The one thing I would do differently next time is sign up for a 3 or 5 day Ayurveda programme to delve a little bit deeper into this ancient art.
Are you thinking about visiting Sri Lanka or have you stayed at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions before? I’d love to hear from you below! You can also check out some of my other articles on Sri Lanka here, or read some of these insider guides and tips:
- If you’re planning a visit to Sri Lanka, here are 12 things to know before you go!
- Wondering where to go in Sri Lanka? Here is a comprehensive list of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka
- Only have 1 week in Sri Lanka? Read on for my express 1 week Sri Lanka itinerary to help you make the most of your time!
- Or, here is a slightly longer 2 week Sri Lanka island-wide itinerary for those with more time
- Comfort, beautiful decor and warm hospitality – what’s not to love? Read on for 20+ tried-and-tested hotels in Sri Lanka
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No compensation was received for this review, however Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions offered my stay complimentary. As always, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are (and always will be) my own!
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