Colombo often got the short end of the stick as a tourist destination in Sri Lanka. It used to be a crowded, congested city of industry and business but as of recently, with new revitalization efforts, a world-class shopping experience, and a renewed focus on history, culture and art within the city, Colombo is an absolute must on your Sri Lankan itinerary.
It’s a city teeming with life and activity so book a city hotel in Colombo to cut down on travel time from the various places you’re going to visit and take a tour through Colombo’s finest.
We’ll start with the most obvious reason you should visit Colombo: it’s a world-class shopping destination with shockingly affordable prices.
Each year, there’s quite a healthy influx of visitors, tourists and travellers, from the Middle-East and beyond, that make the trip to Colombo’s many shopping options to stock up on the best international brands, at a price that fits them.
Start with Crescat Boulevard, the iconic shopping mall near the Galle Face green. It’s got an eclectic collection of luxury Sri Lankan clothing and accessories brands, along with some fabulous boutiques for gifts and souvenirs.
Odel, the next shopping destination, has been a mainstay on Colombo’s high-end shopping mall lists since the early 2000s and with good reason. There’s a classy collection of upscale clothing boutiques and stores nestled in this mall, along with many smaller stores with premium quality gifts and accessories that you won’t find in many other places.
Finally, the newest addition to Colombo’s shopping landscape is the huge mall at One Galle Face, attached to its own luxury apartment complex and living community. Here you’ll find a large variety of international fashion houses rubbing shoulders with Sri Lankan brands of similar make and price. Expect to spend a few hours in this dizzying complex and leave armed with new wardrobes, home goods, gifts, accessories and even get some quality pampering at a few of the spas inside. The perfect shopping experience to sate your palate.
Nowhere else in Sri Lanka will you find as cosmopolitan and eclectic a mix of premier cuisine as in Colombo. Gastronomic delights abound in Colombo for there’s no shortage of delectable restaurants, serving you both the finest of Sri Lankan food and the best of world-class international cuisine.
Ministry of Crab is an obvious choice for any lover of high-quality seafood fused with Sri Lankan flavors. Crab comes in all sizes there, even a massive 2 kilogram one if you’re up for it, and their commitment to only using the freshest of the daily catch and best of ingredients will impress you.
Likewise, Nihonbashi is a beautiful culinary dream. Named the 38th best restaurant in Asia by San Pellegrino, and run by the same chef behind Ministry of Crab, Nihonbashi gets everything right about the simple yet immensely elegant Japanese cuisine, from sushi and sashimi to more hearty offerings of hotpots and charcoal grilled savourings.
If Italian food is more your fare then Giovanni’s is your best bet. Smack in the middle of Colombo 5, Giovanni’s a delightfully quaint restaurant serving nothing but the most authentic, woodfired pizza and indulgent pasta dishes. It’s your own slice of Italy right here in the heart of Colombo with an unbeatable atmosphere and the freshest of ingredients and food.
Increasingly, as of late, Colombo has been at the center of a dizzying spotlight on history and culture, with sites and things to do popping up around the city. There’s a wide variety of interesting experiences, from old standards of history to new explosions of art.
A visit to the National Museum is essential. It’s colonial architecture is one of the best preserved throughout the country and its historical collections date back to Sri Lanka’s ancient royal families and heirlooms. A better introduction to Sri Lanka’s history you cannot ask for.
There’s more colonial architecture at the Old Dutch Hospital in Colombo 01. Formerly, as its name suggests, a hospital for Dutch Military built in the 17th century, it now houses a charming collection of cafes and small boutiques that form quite the popular hang-out spot for tourists and locals alike.
Similarly, the Arcade Independence Square is a new shopping complex housed in a collection of 19th Century British-built buildings, faithfully preserved and renovated. The area around the complex is a popular promenade for Colombo residents and visitors alike and attracts quite an eclectic crowd everyday.
Situated right in the heart of Colombo’s classy Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood, the Saskia Fernando Gallery is a cool and modern art gallery filled routinely with exhibitions from Sri Lanka’s newest and most contemporary artists. There are new artists highlighted almost every month of the year and the gallery frequently holds international collaborations with similar institutions from Dubai, Singapore, London and Los Angeles. Drop by for a peek into Sri Lanka’s every-maturing contemporary and multidisciplinary art scene and take your fill of an oft-overlooked experience.
Then, make your way over to Colombo 04 where the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is located. Opened just this past year in 2019, the MMCA houses unique exhibitions of 20th and 21st Century Sri Lankan art and holds many curatorial discussions and education programmes that help reveal the social, cultural and sometimes political contexts that the art pieces were created in.
The MMCA is also family-friendly with many programs for kids on their calendar.
Designed to be freely accessible to the public, it’s truly a modern Museum and art space that’s sure to both entertain and illuminate, and perhaps even make you ask questions you never thought you’d ask on a holiday to Sri Lanka.
For a more intimate, yet no less rich, experience the Barefoot Gallery is an exquisite art space and gallery with an attached gift boutique, café and handcrafts shop that’s sure to take your fancy. Here too are displays and exhibits by a diverse group of ever-changing artists and creators.
Conducting a flawless and impressive meeting, either with your superiors or for your important clients can be a turning point for your career and business. However, a flawless meeting needs plenty of effort put to it, and has some key points that you need to pay attention to. Here are a few of those key points that will make any meeting impressive and flawless.
One of the worse things you can do as a host of an important meeting, is to be less than well prepared for it. From what you’re presenting to the materials and documents used, make sure you have it all perfected before the big day. If you’re going old school, and using a power point presentation to get your points across, make sure that presentation is ready and “polished” and proofread several times before the date as well. This is especially true if you’re hosting the meeting out of the office, where chances for confusion are more.
Location is key to a flawlessly impressive business meeting. Ideally, having it at your own commercial building makes things less complicated. However, if you don’t have the luxury of owning a meeting room, or if it’s not impressive enough to wow your important clients, then hiring a meeting space is the best option for you. Meeting venues in Sri Lanka are not hard to find, as some of the leading hotels around the island (like Citrus Waskaduwa) have very impressive meeting rooms for business purposes. The important thing to remember is that it needs to have plenty of space to write in (most people still prefer old fashioned note taking), has good lighting (so that you’re not straining your eyesight throughout the meeting), has comfortable yet professional furniture and that it at has a strong Wi-Fi connection.
As well as the above mentioned requirements, it’s also vital that the meeting room you choose is technology friendly and has all the required electronics that you require to conduct a successful and impressive meeting. Visiting the place before the date of the meeting is an obvious thing to do. Apart from making sure that the room is spacious and impressive enough, use this prior visit as an opportunity to make sure they have all the electronics and technology that you require; and make arrangements to bring with you what’s missing.
There’s nothing more tedious than having to sit through a meeting that is entirely irrelevant to you; and anyone in the business world can testify this fact. In order to make a meeting impressive, it’s vital that you limit the participants of the meeting to only the relevant people. Remember that being involved in the outer limits of a project does not mean they need to be present at every meeting involving the project. It’s more efficient to have only those who affect the turn of a project at the meeting. It also prevents anyone from feeling bored or left out.
While mobile phones certainly make life in the business world easier by having our emails and notifications just a fingertip tap away, it’s also a known fact that our mobile phones can distract us quite easily. Eliminate the possibilities of them disrupting your meeting by asking all parties involved to leave their mobile phone either outside the meeting room, or if they prefer having it on them, switched off entirely. Along with switching off the mobile phones, make sure there’s no extra time spent between each item in the meeting. This eliminates in office gossiping and related distractions.
Spending long hours bending against a desk can be hard, especially when you’re concentrating hard. But that tiredness is only amplified when you also have to go without food. If you’re hosting the meeting for a few hours, make sure you provide those at the meeting with snacks and coffee to keep them alert. If the meeting will last all day, it may be a good idea to organize your meals with a professional caterer. Catering services know the kind of food that can be served that will make the least amount of mess; even if eaten at the meeting room.
Sri Lanka is a great little country for business travel, as most of it happens in the capital city! The main thing to remember is before you even start packing, have some kind of checklist so that you know exactly what to bring to Sri Lanka. These tips will mostly be about weather and culture, and if you follow them you’ll have an easy time travelling in the country. The list is also especially useful for those staying at a Colombo Business Hotel, but it should apply to any city in the country!
First off, you don’t have to pack a lot to come here. Concentrate on lightweight shirts and blouses that will be good for warmer weather – stay away from heavy fabrics. Don’t bring too many pairs of shoes, and make sure you’re good to walk in them. Because of cabs and the air conditioning of offices this may not affect your outfits as much, but bring airy clothes and have a handkerchief or oil absorbing sheets to mop up any sweat on your face before you enter a meeting! Have a good comfy pair of shoes for when you’re taking a break – sneakers or sandals will do – as you will want to check out the local life if you have any free time. In general, be aware of the humid weather in Sri Lanka and pack accordingly. Make good use of the laundry facilities available at your hotel, so that you can travel light but still have enough outfits for all the days that you are here.
One of the most important things you can do when you touch down in the airport is to buy yourself a SIM card, as this will be your lifeline workwise, and family wise. Offices and hotels will have Wi-Fi, but not all other establishments do, so you will want to get an internet package for the duration of your stay. They don’t cost much, and you can buy a decent amount of GB for not very much, so you should be set for keeping in touch with everyone on the go. This is also important for google maps and ordering cabs using ride share apps.
Another tip is to understand that Sri Lankans tend to run on a different time than others. So prepare to be a bit more relaxed, and enjoy this change of pace. This applies to meetings that may start slightly later than anticipated and run a bit later than expected, as well as travel times (that can take anything from longer than usual due to traffic and fast as lightning when there are no vehicles on the road!).
Some advice when it comes to travelling is use ride share apps – such as the homegrown Pick Me or the internationally known Uber – because getting three wheelers, or tuk tuks, off the road might be dicey as it can be tricky to negotiate a price. If you do have to hail one from the street, make sure they have a meter.
While not a hack, per se, I would advise you to go around Colombo if you have any downtime. Try to visit Galle Face, and the Dutch Fort for a sample of Sri Lanka’s cuisine and nightlife. Independence square is a good place to go for walks.