What I love about the type of hotels (cheap!) I usually stay at is that they are usually built, owned and run by people who are from the area and not professional hoteliers. As they are not professionals, they avoid the common pitfalls that the chains make (like offering bland, washed out, often boiled western food that their cooks barely know how to make instead of good spicy eastern food).
On the other hand, they also do not always know how to access the right kind of assistance to maximise the natural benefits of the place they build their hotel in and add those minor touches of quality that can make a 5,000 rupee a night hotel feel like a night at a 20,000 rupee hotel. If SLTB could take 5% of what they spend on attending trade fairs in other countries and use that to pay some experienced hotelier to visit and advise our indigenous hotels on the details, the tourism industry could see real growth as the diversity of experiences our indigenous hoteliers offer is exactly what higher end tourists are looking for.
Hantana (Hanthane? Hantane?) Shadow Resort is one of these hotels. It is 15 minutes from Kandy town and set into the slope of a mountain covered with pine trees. The hotel rooms are built in between the trees creating the feeling that somehow the rooms have existed as long as the forest has. Step outside the room and it's like living in an Enid-Blyton-Magic-Faraway-Tree forest, especially at night when the widely spaced lights add luminosity to the scene.
However, inside the rooms, the details start to affect the experience. The tables are cheap looking formica/plywood affairs that even Damro would look askance at. There are flowers in growing abundance outside the room but there is a cheap looking fake flower in a vase inside. The only glass window opens to the outdoor path on which guests walk from their rooms to the restaurant which means you can't enjoy the view and privacy at the same time. The area behind the room is beautiful - I walked around the hotel and to see it - but you can't see it because there's no window on that side. The first room we went to had a bathroom with a shower curtain that was old and dirty. The service from the wait staff and the manageress was pretty bad as well.
Most of these issues are not expensive to fix. Throwing out the fake flowers and putting in fresh ones from the garden and upgrading the service would be free (personality implants?). Replacing the shower curtains is practically free. And the rooms have good basic fittings: spring mattresses, high quality hot water geysers/showers, decent sized TVs. They even have copies of Buddhism in a Nutshell in every room.
Hantana Shadow Resort is an amazing location with wonderful basics. But the minor details, which could have been fixed with access to expert advice, left us not keen at all to return.
Hotel Name: Hantane Shadow Resort
Phone: 0777 785500
More Photos: Picasaweb
Rates: 4,200 Room Only 5,600 Half Board Double
Tip: Follow the signs to Amaya Hills (the ugly pink/blue monstrosity) except the last one. Where it says turn left to Amaya Hills, turn right.