Amangalla had been open only nine days when the tsunami struck Sri Lanka in December 2004. Positioned behind the stone walls of Galle Fort, a former Dutch military stronghold in the coastal city of Galle, the hotel survived unscathed. But the damage to the surrounding city prompted management to close the property and operate it as a shelter for local victims for nearly two months.
Reopened in February 2005, Amangalla occupies a collection of structures built in the late 1600s to house military officers within Galle Fort (now a 232-acre fortified community that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988). The buildings also served as a billet for British soldiers and, for the past 140 years, as the New Oriental Hotel. Several of Amangalla’s 21 guest rooms and suites feature original furnishings from the fortress and views of its ramparts, the adjacent harbor, or the Groote Kerk (Great Church).
Activities at and around Amangalla include ayurvedic treatments in the spa, lounging in poolside cabanas, and exploring the fort, nearby beaches, and Buddhist temples. Two hours away by car is Amanwella, Amanresorts’ Sri Lankan beach resort that debuted just one month after Amangalla’s reopening.