Jetwing Yala

With the mesmerising Indian Ocean and enchanting Yala National Park as breathtaking neighbours, it’s only right that Jetwing Yala is a luxury hotel that turns heads itself. This modern and stylish hotel does exactly that by coexisting with and respecting the unique natural environment, whilst at the same time providing the perfect base for discerning guests who are in the region to explore and understand the surrounding natural beauty. Explore the rugged sand dunes, swim in the Indian ocean or the 75m saltwater pool, relax in the Thai inspired spa and keep an eye out for the resident male elephant who wanders through the grounds of the hotel on a regular basis. There are no electric fences surrounding Jetwing Yala, as you’ll find at other hotels and resorts in the area, instead they are happy to share with the wildlife who of course called the wilds of Yala National Park home way before tourism arrived.

Jetwing Yala Aerial View
Jetwing Yala Pool Ocean View

Our Deluxe Room complete with an ocean facing balcony boasting panoramic views of the coastline provided the perfect haven after a day of exploring; it was also an excellent location to be mesmerised by the ever changing skies and stunning sunsets. The room combined the modern amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel with design features that made you realise you were in Sri Lanka. In addition to the balcony, we loved the semi open air bathroom where the shower was open to the elements. It provided a connection with nature that seemed apt for a hotel that is immersed in natural beauty and clearly respects the environment.

Jetwing Yala Superior Bathroom

The Vegan Food

We always recommend contacting your chosen hotel or resort prior to arrival to ensure they are aware of your vegan dietary requirements, and then to follow this up at check in with a polite request to speak with one of the restaurant team. We knew our request had been understood when the super friendly executive chef greeted us at check in and showed us the vegan set menu he’d created. We were definitely in for a culinary treat!

And what a treat it was, starting with breakfast where we were served vegan pancakes and waffles with whipped coconut cream, coconut treacle, chocolate sauce, fruit compote and nuts. Heaven. Or giant protein packed salads packed with veggies, green and brown gram, cashews, peanuts and chick peas and drizzled with a vibrant passion fruit dressing. Also heaven. This was served with never ending cups of ginger tea, a fruit plate, fresh juice of the day, a bread basket that came with marmite and homemade jams and contained delicious delights such as ‘seeni sambol’ stuffed buns. These soft bread buns, stuffed with spiced caramelised onions were a sweet and savoury dream.

vegan pancakes at Jetwing Yala
vegan waffles at Jetwing Yala
seeni sambal rolls at Jetwing Yala
vegan salad at Jetwing Yala

There was of course, a Sri Lankan breakfast option that we couldn’t resist. Emerald green bowls of ‘kolakanda’, a herbal rice soup that comes with a nugget of sweet, delectable ’kittul jaggery’ palm sugar on the side. Normally opposed to eating sugar cubes for breakfast, these lumps of sweetness which are rich in minerals like iron and other nutrients such as magnesium were too good to pass up. Also irresistible were the red and white string hoppers, steamed light rice noodles served in loose-knit rounds stacked upon each other, and diamond shaped slabs of ‘kiribath’ coconut milk rice. All accompanied with dahl, ‘kiri hodi’ which translates as ‘curry gravy’ and freshly ground coconut and chilli ‘pol sambol’ for added spice and deliciousness.

vegan breakfast at Jetwing Yala
jaggery at Jetwing Yala

For lunch and dinner we were treated with ever changing vegan set menus in addition to options via the a la carte menus that could be easily adapted. Dainty fine dining worthy roasted vegetable creations with a soy dressing and coconut crumble. Vegetable crepes with bowls of spicy tomato pasta and crunchy mushroom tempura. Vegetable stacks with a rich roasted vegetable ratatouille. Plant based food that was looking good and tasting even better made us smile every single day.

roasted veg salad at Jetwing Yala
fancy salad at Jetwing Yala
vegan pasta at Jetwing Yala
vegan platter at Jetwing Yala

But no trip to Sri Lanka, in fact no day in Sri Lanka is complete without rice and curry and so we made sure to order this at least once a day because the Jetwing Yala version of this ubiquitous Sri Lankan meal is particularly special. Working in line with their sustainability policy, which reaches way beyond the usual, the Executive Chef recognised the vast skill and knowledge of local women who were practiced at conjuring multiple home cooked curries, using local and seasonal produce. Then he employed some of them to cook their dishes in the hotel. The results were, as far as we could see, some of the best rice and curry we have eaten in Sri Lanka. We watched them cook one afternoon and they made it all look effortless as they instinctively crafted multiple dishes which before long arrived in front of us to eat. All delicious, all cooked with natural ingredients, all cooked with that little bit of something special that made every meal a special memory in the making.

There were other Sri Lankan dishes to sample too, a ‘rotti kottu’ (chopped up flatbread and veggies with spices) which had been wrapped in another rotti, burrito style. A rotti, in a rotti. Delicious genius. There was a string hopper kottu as well, with creamy vegetable cashew curry and crispy little fried lentil cakes or ‘vada’. There was organic fried rice, with vegetables and spring rolls. And at the end of every meal there were vegan desserts; homemade rice cream with sweet fruity compote, sat on crunchy palm sugar crumbs and colourful agar fruity jellies that were full of colour and flavour.

rice and curry at Jetwing Yala
vegan rice and curry at Jetwing Yala
vegan fried rice at Jetwing Yala
vegan jelly at Jetwing Yala

The Vegan Essentials

With Jetwing Hotels championing sustainability, respecting the environment and supporting the local community, it was no surprise that the planet and community driven initiatives at Jetwing Yala were next level.

The largest solar installation at a Sri Lankan hotel supplies 80% of the daytime electricity demand. All hot water is is generated through 100% renewable means. Reverse osmosis is used to desalinate seawater for use throughout the hotel, whilst 100% of waste water is treated and used in multiple ways. An onsite glass bottling plant produces 2000 litres per day and the expansive organic garden supplies the kitchens, with other products sourced locally wherever possible. Jetwing Yala even work with and support local farmers to create ongoing mutually beneficial relationships. Community initiatives include employing local woman in the kitchens to use their years of experience cooking Sri Lankan cuisine. Steam generated sustainably by burning cinnamon wood which is the bi product of cinnamon production, is chilled via a ‘vapour absorption chiller’ and powers 100% of the AC needs throughout the hotel.

Jetwing Hotels commitment to responsible tourism is unparalleled and truly was a pleasure to learn about during our stay. No longer are the reduction of single use plastic and only having your sheets washed on alternate days enough, the hospitality industry needs to keep striving to be more sustainable and never rest in their efforts, which is exactly what Jetwing Hotels are doing in Sri Lanka.

wood burner at Jetwing Yala
solar at Jetwing Yala

Our Yala National Park safari experience was everything we had hoped for and more. We were fully aware that ‘stage managing’ wild animals is not an option, so were prepared and would be thankful for whatever nature arranged for us on the day of our visit. The changing scenery within the areas of the vast park that we visited was delightful, plenty to see and plenty to ask our guide and Jetwing Yala resident naturalist who was an absolute font of knowledge. Birds of all shapes in sizes were a highlight of our safari. From kingfishers to diminutive and iridescent bee catchers going about their daily lives, or brightly coloured and aptly named painted storks and even a rare black necked stork who stood proudly at nearly 1.5m tall, we were humbled to be surrounded by natural beauty.

Did we see any elephants on our safari? No, but we did see the male elephant who calls Jetwing Yala home having an afternoon nap under a tree next to the organic gardens. Did we see any leopards at Yala National Park? Yes, sleeping in a tree, lifting his head from time to time to keep an eye on his surroundings. Did we take the photo below of a leopard in Yala National Park? No, but our friend over at ‘itsmepodda’ on Instagram who is a talented local photographer kindly let us use this image.

Yala Safari Jeep
Leopard in Yala, Sri Lanka

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict

Stay at Jetwing Yala to be impressed and amazed by the hotel, the people, the food, the wildlife, the environment and last but by no means least the incredible passion to support the community, respect the environment and quite simply operate responsibly. This is how tourism should be done, Jetwing Hotels are leading from the front and inspiring others in both Sri Lanka and further afield, to make changes to the way that they operate. We loved our stay and cannot recommend Jetwing Yala enough, one of our favourite hotel stays ever.

Vegan Food Quest small banner logo

We were guests of Jetwing Yala but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

Jetwing Yala
Sri Lanka

Telephone: +94 47-4710710
Cost From:
£160 / $200 (July 2022)

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