Tea trade takes a leaf from the famous Wine trails to make new revenue stream.

Tea trails, four refurbished colonial bungalows nestled in the tea decked hills of Bogavantalawa is attracting high end visitors from mostly UK. Tourists from UK who like to experience the kind of lifestyle their ancestors lived here during the British Raj are visiting these boutique bungalows and have added a new revenue stream to its promoters the MJF group. Want to experience the lifestyle of a colonial planter? Feel the peace and tranquility of the Castlereagh river. Enjoy the luxurious culture of the British Raj. And learn all about the art of Ceylon tea. Ceylon tea trails, is an ideal retreat for high end tourists looking for something different to the hotel boutique experience. "We try to celebrate a life style of a planter which is something unique because other trend consumers have demonstrated is to go back to natural traditional life styles. If you consider consumers in Emirates in Dubai in Singapore they have the money but not the access to this kinds of places," Dilhan Fernando, Marketing Director, MJF Group. Tea trails located around the Castelreagh lake consist of four old colonial bungalows renovated and refurbished by Dilmah Tea. Keeping in line with the colonial era, these bungalows offer guests with exquisite cuisine and butler service. Guests, mostly from UK like to experience the luxurious colonial lifestyle their ancestors enjoyed during the British Raj in Ceylon. They pay US$ 500 a night on full board basis. "That is ultimately good for Sri Lanka and they become aficionados of Ceylon tea," says Dilhan Fernando. Tea trails is relatively a new concept in Sri Lanka where tourists can either relax and enjoy the cool climate or walk through tea estates, watch women pluck two leaves and a bud, visit tea factories and discover the manufacturing process of Ceylon tea and test their skill in tea tasting. "This is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.

You have wine trails and whisky trails in other countries but here this is the first of its kind I’m sure guests learn a lot other countries. Earlier it was just a cup of tea for them but now they learn how the planters lived and how the tea is produced.
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Overall they enjoy not just a cup of tea but tea in a difference sense altogether," explains Asela Wavita, Manager, Tea Trails. However, wine and whisky industries in countries like France, Italy, UK, Australia, the US and Spain have already diversified into tourism by promoting wine and whisky trails in their countries. Special wine tour operators in those countries attract tourists to wine producing region by offering personalized vacations which include, bicycle tours through vineyards, chateaux accommodation, gourmet cuisine and tasting world class wines. Tea trails in the central hills of Sri Lanka has just started doing the same. Guests spend two to three days on average in these bungalows as their stay is part of tour package which include many other destinations.
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However, the tea trails Castlereagh bungalow is the most popular among guests since it opened in July this year. Castlereagh managed to attract 40 percent - 50 percent occupancy since then.

The management says tourists who enjoy their hospitality learn much about Ceylon tea, culture and traditions involved in the industry. "It is so serene and quiet here and they love that we have a lot of activities like boating, bike riding specialized trails and tea experience where we take guests through the process of tea plucking and factory visits so the guests relax as well as learn something while they are here," Asela says. -LBR Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlk.com
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