Villas in Talpe, South Coast
Meals can be served indoors or out; just talk to the staff about your preferences. There are no menus at the villa so you need to be imaginative, however bear in mind that fish and seafood are plentiful. Discuss your meal requirements with the chef daily and the staff will then go out to shop for fresh produce (at market prices) and drinks. It’s best to furnish them with cash on arrival and then keep topping it up as appropriate (they will provide receipts).
The staff at Ambalama are proficient and present service with a smile; offering to unpack our suitcase on arrival and serving us chilled G&Ts on the pool terrace overlooking the sea at sunset. A pair of non-resident managers drop by to welcome guests and make sure they have everything they require, and are on call if advice is needed about where to eat out, or to help with any travel arrangements (Roshan doubles up as an in-house manager and can also assist with most guest queries).
Whilst there isn’t a TV or DVD player at the villa, these can be organised with prior arrangement – although it’s probably best to bring your own DVDs with you, as well as childrens’ games if needs be. Whilst the narrow beach outside Ambalama isn’t great for swimming, you only have to walk five minutes to the nearest swimming beach. That said, there are few villas on the Galle coast better located than Ambalama; beaches, restaurants, shops and attractions are all within a short walk or drive.
We thought the staff were excellent; friendly, experienced and capable. The chef was particularly enthusiastic and his cooking was fabulous. He’ll even make snacks for kids such as jammy dodgers, an all-time favourite. He will also stock the kitchen with basic provisions prior to your arrival, and prepare your first two meals so that you can arrive relaxed and at ease. There’s a Nespresso coffee machine in the villa, but as you can’t buy the capsules in Sri Lanka, you’ll need to bring some with you. If we needed anything else, the staff shopped for us and they were able to arrange transport for us to visit attractions, restaurants and the fort at Galle.
Visiting in March 2013, three years after our original review, we were pleased to discover that the villa has the same lovely staff team and is as immaculately presented as before. Each master bedroom has its own mini fridge and the villa is also now equipped with a generator.
There’s a small staff team of a cook/maid and a security/maintenance man who also doubles up as a waiter and gardener. The cook is shy to speak English and service is fairly laid back, yet both are friendly and when large groups stay at the villa another staff member is drafted in to help. There’s a small menu, which continues to grow as the cook learns more dishes; our evening meal of chicken korma was delicious. Two managers (a couple) drop by every now and then to ensure the smooth running of the villa and assist with any enquiries, which really helps; WiFi wasn’t working when we arrived, however they quickly arranged for the appropriate people to come and fix the problem.
We felt that Footprints would particularly suit groups of friends looking to chill out and spend time together within treading distance of restaurants and bars (there’s a very popular one just 100m down the beach). Anyone who lusts after air conditioning would also be happy here – there are few fully air-conditioned villas along this stretch of coastline. It’s a good family house too (although some may grow tired of wandering up and down stairs to reach the bedrooms). Note that one of the bedrooms is fitted with waterbed. Although it looked (and felt) comfortable, we opted for a more traditional mattress!
The villa has its own chef, and for lunch we ate gazpacho soup and tuna nicoise salad (our request; something light) and for dinner the staff prepared a house speciality, fish biryani, with brinjol pickle and salad. The suggestion menu was enticing, and included crispy pork belly, Thai curry, seafood options, and whole roast chicken. All food and drinks are charged at cost price (plus a 20% mark up), or you could opt to pay LKR 2,500 (around $20) per adult per meal (half price for kids). Breakfast is included in the rate.