report: The Kumudu Valley Waterski Resort in SriLanka
by Ulf Unbehaun
One picture says it all! A natural tropical scenery, perfect water sheltered by palmtrees, year round warm water and a hotel right next to it. What else do we need for a perfect waterski vacation :) ?
| The story
Back in 1998, Holger Brümmer, a German waterski coach was looking out for new waterski destinations in Asia. In Sri Lanka, he asked the locals for their favorite locations and ended up on a beach near the village of Negombo located close to Colombo. When he walked down this beach, the jungle opened and gave view to the lagoon like river delta you see further down in the section "Boat club". Well, the picture has actually been taken from a palm tree and not from the beach. But the view is not less spectacular. In 2003, he found another area just big enough for a six ball slalom course. He teamed up with the local "Christian Fernando" who was about to open a hotel at the lagoon at that time. Holger knew that it would be ideal to have an extra spot for slalom skiing only and started to build his second site "Kumudu" for slalom skiers only. Since the beginning in 1998 Holger has been working hard to build one of the best waterski and wakeboard sites you can dream of. Scenic surroundings, tropical clima, perfect water and professional waterski equipment make it my favorite personal winter waterski destination.
| The Kumudu slalom
30 minutes away from the airport or one hour from Colombo is one of those perfect spots waterskiers dream about. A tournament waterski boat on a secluded lagoon surrounded by palm trees. As you can see on the picture above and below, there are not just some pitoresque postcard palm trees standing there but massive tropical vegetation. The plants cuts off all the wind and the mangroove roots swallow the boat waves completely.
The lenght of our 8 ball slalom course is just fitting into the lagoon. It seems that the Dutch colonialists, who dug out the lagoon as a part of a network of transportation channels already knew the dimensions of a slalom course a 300 years ago :) Something about the water temperature: I have to confess that I hate cold water! But what can you do if you want to extend the waterski season and don't live in Florida? This is not a problem when you head off to Sri Lanka. When I skied there in the month of May, the water temperature was 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) on one side of the lagoon and 33 degrees (91,4 F)on the other. Unbelievable!
| Hotel: The Kumudu
The Kumudu hotel actually faces the slalom lagoon and you can watch the skiers while having breakfast. There are 20 spacious bungalows equipped with sofas, air condition, TV and a large bathroom for the guests. The bungalows are situated around the main building where breakfast, dinner and lunch is being served. My preferred place is the first floor that gives view to the whole hotel aerea, the lagoon and a part of the ocean. It takes you 5 minutes by foot to get to the ocean or one minute per boat. The lagoon stretches around a corner and ends directly at the beach.
Beside the waterskiers, most of the Kumudu guests are locals from Sri Lanka and India. The hotel is very popular for weddings and chances are good that you will experience one while you stay in the hotel.
The mixture of western and local tourists often leads to funny situation. On the picture on the left you see the rider "Wolfgang Dittrich" demonstrate that the hotel pool can be used for more sports than just swimming. Needless to say that the locals had also a good time seeing us "mad" Europeans doing such stunts.
The Kumudu villas
Currently under construction are two waterski villas! While the normal hotel bungalows are rather basic, the villas will be high end and made for skiers. Located directly at the shore, you have a fantastic full view to the slalom course and the ocean. The two villas can be rented by individuals or groups of up to 10 skiers. The villas share a private pool, a big lounge area and a private boat for excursions. Opening is probably at the end of 2012.
A big advantage of the Kumudu hotel is its proximity to the slalom spot. I guess that most of you waterski freaks will prefer Kumudu to all the other hotels in the region because you value being close to the action. This may change if you come to Sri Lanka with a non skiing partner who is more interested in touristic values. Some of the other hotels offer more touristic infrastructure like bigger pools, beach bars, direct access to the beach and Ayurveda. These hotels are very close and it is absolutely no problem to stay there and to ski in the Kumudu lagoon. Most of the skiers that are staying in the other hotels come in the morning and in the evening to have a ride and spend the rest of the day in their hotels or doing trips.
It would lead too far to describe all the hotels in the Negombo area but you can check with Holger what suits your needs best. There is everything from low budget guest houses to a 5 star luxury resort called "The Beach"
Hotel tip: Ranweli
The Ranweli Holiday Village is a holiday resort in the wide spread bungalow style. Some of the bungalows are located directly at the beautiful sand beach. The resort is nicely located on a peninsula, offers room-service, two bars (1 pool & 1 cocktail), and a very friendly staff. If waterskiing is not enough for you, you can play tennis on two sand courts, squash, basketball, beach-volleyball, table-tennis and test your “Robin Hood”-rating with archery. The equipment is in good condition. Getting you in shape is the goal of the so called “Ayurveda”. At the weekend you may order a complete medical treatment, a medical massage and an acupuncture treatment in the hotels Ayurveda centre. The RANWELI HOLIDAY VILLAGE owns the GREEN LEAF HOTEL ARWARD for serious ecological commitment. The well-trained staff organizes tours through the private zoo with peacocks, deer, etcetera, or teaches you asian cooking with local herbs of the own kitchen garden. The hotel has been completely renovated in 2004.
Many people have asked me if it is safe to travel to Sri Lanka so I write something about the most common concerns of the visitors.
First, you have to consider that you are going to travel to a tropical Island and of course there are all sorts of animals living in the jungle. But this does not necessarily mean that you will ever see any of them during your stay. In the three weeks that I have spent in Sri Lanka I never saw any snakes or spiders at all. What you should do is to follow some basic rules like not having barefoot nightwalks through the jungle.
Fortunately there are no crocodiles and aligators at the Kumudu Lagoon and in 10 years of operation there hasn't been any problems with animals.
| The Coach Holger
Holger is a slalom specialist. He is actually working on passing the course on the 11 meter line. After 10 years of coaching in various clubs he has gathered a lot of experience for slalom skiing, tricks and wakeboarding. He also is a licensed watersport instructor for windsurfing and kitesurfing. You will notice his enthusiasm for all kinds of watersports, which keeps him up-to-date with the latest trends and developments of training methods and new products. No matter what skiing level, Holger will analyse your trouble shooters and corrects them step-by-step. It is making his day already, when your skiing is improving. This is why he simply banned the water-banana, ringos and jet-skis out of his camp, but happily also welcomes families and young newcomers to the sport.
|Other things to do in
Several excurions can be organized individually everything is obligatory and there are many different programs to choose from. To be absolutely independent, hire one of the inexpensive vans and a driver will show you the most interesting sights in the area. So no stressful sightseeing at Holger´s camp. Remember: you are on vacation! You can easily go on a 2-3 day discovery tour, relax and come back to get ready for another training session. If you like to travel on a small budget, this is the place to go to get your money´s worth. Comparing a week at Holger´s camp in Sri Lanka to a week in Florida, it is fair to say that you will only spend about half. So, what about local food? The rich buffets at the hotel offer a large selection and variety of local delicacies adjusted to european cuisine. If you are a seafood lover, Holger will lead you to his favourite restaurants to enjoy the best fresh lobster, king prawns & Co. For more information check out Holger`s website at: www.waterskicamps.com
| My personal
The Kumudu Site is one of the few places in the world, you can really call dream spots. Excellent conditions, great foot, surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing on the beautiful Indian Ocean. All this combines to great vacation not only for waterskiers and Wakeboarders. If you are new to Sri Lanka I would recommend to book 7 days (or more :)) of skiing, stay in the Kumudu Hotel and add a three day Sri Lanka excursion at the end or the middle of your stay.
|Open||October to May|
|Slalom boat||INFINITY ZX 1, 2000, Perfect Pass Star Gazer, 310 HP, perfect wake at all line lengths, topspeed 80 km/h, plenty of power for barefoot waterskiing|
|Slalom course||Yes/ 8 ball|
|Boat timing||Perfect Pass Star Gazer|
|Equipment||Skylon, Barefoot-Boom, Windsurfing, Surfing, Kite-Surfing, Air chair "Stealth"|
|Beginners||Combo-Skis, kid-skis, wakeboard, monoski, Wakeskate|
|Advanced||slalomski, trick-ski, wakeboard, life-jacket also for kids|
|Contact name||Holger Brümmer (speaks german, english & french)|
|Flight times||Paris - Colombo 9 hours
Frankfurt -Colombo 9.5 hours
NYC-Dubai ~ 9 hours, Dubai - Colombo 4 hours
|Telephone||Germany (Juni - September): 0049 - (0)172 - 940 26 877|
|Telephone||Sri Lanka (October - May): 0094-(0)- 777-36 24 58|
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