Sweeping lawns and swimming pools. English gardens filled with roses, dew filled agapanthus and spring crocus. Tea on the lawn with Dundee cake, scones, strawberries and cream or lunch alfresco by the pool, a summerhouse to meditate in or watch the forest wagtail flit from tree to tree. Tennis, swimming, croquet and classic board games all come together for a leisurely lifestyle at the five historic tea planters bungalows that comprise Ceylon Tea Trails.
Summerville, Castlereagh and Dunkeld overlook the Castlereagh lake, Norwood is at the other end of the valley about 15 minutes away by car and Tientsin is about 30 minutes away in the next valley. Each house comes with its own chef, butler and houseboys and from 5 to 6 rooms each. Master Suites with a separate living room and private gardens, Garden Suites with verandahs to private gardens and spacious Luxury Rooms of great character. Dunkeld has an Owner’s Cottage set away from the main bungalow.
The bungalow at Norwood commands a fine view of the eastern end of the Bogawantalawa valley and rests in the shelter of one of the finest bamboo stands to be found anywhere. The suites are oversized with imposing colonial style furniture, some with four-poster beds and very elegant bathrooms. A spacious lounge and billiard room lead out to a croquet lawn, a large swimming pool and sun deck. It is here where planters of the past invited friends to enjoy the pristine air and glorious outlook. You too can wander the gardens unchanged since yesteryear, soaking up the atmosphere of a time gone by.
Step into the world of Tientsin and step back in time. Named after the Chinese village from which the original tea seedlings came, this very British residence is a historical landmark. Six glorious rooms and suites open onto magnificent English gardens still standing loyal to the colonial planters’ wives who created ‘a little bit of home’ in a faraway land. Wander the glorious rose terraces and hide away under a leafy arbour to the myriad sounds of the many birds that make their homes there. Each suite too is faithful to the original design with polished wooden floors and high ceilings; some with four-poster beds. A large swimming pool and raised garden offers panoramic views of the tea-carpeted mountains that lead towards the World Heritage Horton Plains National Park.
High above the lake at the edge of a tea plantation, Summerville stands sentinel. This five-room bungalow enjoys magnificent views of the water and beyond to tea planted mountains in the distance. Some suites open to private gardens and all accommodations have easy access to the cozy lounge where picture windows provide a backdrop to a roaring fire as the evening mist draws in. Summerville offers individual accommodation, or the entire bungalow can be booked for a group to enjoy the very personal atmosphere of this great house.
Poised high above Castlereagh lake, the Dunkeld bungalow looks down on the verdant tea fields of Dunkeld estate and the tea factory, with spectacular views of the Great Western mountain range. The infinity-edge swimming pool offers awe-inspiring panoramic views, whilst the hot tub seemingly floats above the lake surface. The secluded ‘Owner’s Cottage’ offers a romantic one-bedroom residence hidden privately in the tea fields.
Travellers approaching Castlereagh from the road can glimpse tantalising views across the lake of this magnificent symbol of the glory days of colonial life. Nestled in a wooded dell close to the water, this century-old bungalow offers unrivalled water views and superb garden suites to suit every taste. Elegant parquet floors all around with open fireplaces in the dining and drawing rooms, evoke recollections of the life and times of the tea planters who once lived here. In the extensive grounds, summerhouses can be found where tea is served, and a good book enjoyed until the sun goes down over the water and it’s time for sundowners on the terrace overlooking the lake.