Our guest blogger, Julian, writes about the fantastic time he enjoyed on New Year’s Eve of 2013 at the exquisite Mount Lavinia Hotel:
Just recently, my wife and I were taking a “tuk tuk” ride on Galle Road. Colombo is theatrically decorated this time of the year. As our tuk tuk bounced its way to the city center, our eyes were constantly bombarded with many yuletide adornments, New Year’s decorations, colorful cutouts and garish advertisements for end-of-the year sales. This over-the-top, gaudy, yet so cheerfully vibrant spirit of Colombo is exactly what keeps us coming back to Sri Lanka each winter season. And, of course, also for the unforgettable New Year’s celebrations.
My wife and I have spent our last two New Year’s in Sri Lanka. The New Year’s Eve of 2012, which also happened to coincide with our 25th wedding anniversary, we spent in style with an eight-course meal accompanied by piano music at the luxurious Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. It was a very formal and a very palatable experience, but my wife thought could have done with some exciting tropical flavor. So we decided to spend the 31st of 2013 in the scenic beach town of Mount Lavinia, the famous Colombo suburb.
Keeping up with the theme, the party moved to a 20s soundtrack
Colombo has a multitude of New Year’s celebrations, beach-front parties and even masquerade balls. But most of these celebrations are geared toward the 20 to 30 crowd, with loud music and DJs with unpronounceable names. My wife and I would have loved to dance all night to booming techno music once, maybe about 20 years ago. Nowadays, we prefer the more jolly-but-subdued celebrations. I hear there are beach parties on New Year’s Eve along the entire southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, from Negombo to Unawatuna. But Mount Lavinia got our attention for its casually elegant Great Gatsby-themed party hosted by the historical Mount Lavinia Hotel.
My wife is obsessed with the “roaring 20s.” She’s made me watch every single Great Gatsby picture adaptation ever made, even the one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyoncé music. After we checked-in at the Mount Lavinia hotel and got our tickets, the hotel arranged for a driver to take us to a tailor, where we got our Flapper outfits—a vintage brown suit for me and a pink chiffon dress for her. The ticket to the party itself cost almost 20,000 LKR, but it’s all inclusive of food and services from entrance to exit.
The old colonial hotel was stunningly lit up for the celebrations on New Year’s Eve, accompanied by the gentle sounds of the ocean. There was an amazing ambiance in the hotel’s ballroom that made me feel like we were in a truly tropical Roaring 20s. The hotel staff treated us like royalty from the moment we arrived. There were no DJs or blue-tinis here, just a lovely 20s soundtrack. There were unlimited numbers of food and drink options available, that didn’t strictly adhere to the Roaring 20s theme. Yes, we had 20s-themed sizzling cocktails, as well as mugs of local Lion beer. We stuffed ourselves with very 20s-esque hors d’oeuvres like shrimp cocktail and canapés. The main dishes were more fusion-themed with Western choices like pot roast served alongside local favorites like hoppers. Some aspects were strikingly 20s-like: I actually smoked shisha and my wife spent about 100 bucks on the roulette.
We had a great time decadently enjoying the food, drinks, games, tobacco and mingling with fellow Flapper partygoers, just like the 20s decade is famous (or infamous) for. As midnight approached, we all went to the hotel’s terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean. We began our countdown to 2014 watching the onyx-black waves hit the beach. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… and boom, we welcomed 2014 with a magnificent fireworks display lighting up the sky that lasted for about half an hour.
My wife and I had such a wonderful time during last New Year’s Eve in Mount Lavinia and we still can’t stop talking about it. We certainly hope to memorably celebrate once more in Colombo.