Villa Republic bursts with character and is definitely one-of-a-kind. Apart from its more obvious links with social revolution, the colour red makes its presence felt in many other exotic forms here; the heliconia flowers that droop heavily onto the lawn, the windsurfing boards criss-crossing the river and the great big ball of fiery sun that descends right in front of the villa every evening. This is a magical place to stay, not only because the villa is homely and convivial but also because there’s so much right on its doorstep; water sports, beaches, river exploration, inland cycling, spas, restaurants, and the list goes on.
The master suite is a lot more spacious than the other four bedrooms, which means a toss of a coin if staying with friends, but heaven for parents with a gaggle of kids in tow. For a five-bedroom property, Villa Republic Bentota is very good value. All food is charged at cost price and we enjoyed delicious local curries and pasta dishes during our stay. Mr Fernando heads up the staff team of three (plus security guards) and although he strived to make sure we were always well-fed and watered, we liked that he left us to our own devices too.
We weren’t massively keen on the fixed glass panels in the master suite that covered two of the side doorways, as it would have been nice to have the breeze flowing freely from the garden. That said, the glass panelling at the front was wonderful for maximising views of the river right from the bed (with AC on high!): by day we watched water skiers, jet skiers and wind surfers, and in the early morning before anyone was around, we watched fishermen embarking upriver. Note that the villa’s garden isn’t large, so although you’ve got loads to do on your doorstep, space might be limiting for energetic young kids.