Recently I stayed in a hotel very close to Colombo’s airport, the Otha Shy Airport Hotel. The Sri Lankan capital is some distance away, and as I had a late arrival followed by a morning onward flight, I was more focused on location than quality. I took a cursory look at some reviews but didn’t bother with much more. The price was reasonable, it looked clean and I wasn’t going to have to spend an hour in traffic worrying whether I’d miss my flight.
On arrival, at nearly midnight following a delayed flight, the person manning reception was pleasant and efficient. He gave me a complimentary bottle of water and a working WiFi code. The room was spotless and I had a comfortable night’s sleep. I woke reasonably early and half an hour or so later I became aware of some persistent hammering from the floor above. I wasn’t too worried, as I was about to check out anyway.
On check out, the reason became apparent: the ground floor was complete but the first floor was a scaffolding-clad building site. Never mind: the owner was still charm personified and despite his late night, gave me a free lift to the airport about ten minutes up the road.
Curious, I checked the reviews. Most were very positive. Here’s what Trip Advisor has to say: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g2550421-d8656795-Reviews-Otha_Shy_Airport_Hotel-Katunayaka_Western_Province.html#review_361396695 and here are the reviews on Booking.com: http://www.booking.com/hotel/lk/otha-shy-airport.en-gb.html#tab-reviews.
The owner was very enthusiastic about his expansion plans and convinced that the building work would be completed this month (April 2016). He was the kind of man you want to root for; he had a dream and was determined to realise it. What’s nice is that the lack of poor reviews means that the people that have stayed there while construction is underway get that. I can’t imagine there being much leeway in his budget, so he’d need bookings for his ground floor rooms despite the noise or disruption. A few bad reviews could scupper his dreams.
I’m not in the habit of destroying someone’s chances to improve themselves. Mr Nalaka, I wish you every success with your business and if I return to Sri Lanka, I’ll be booking my old room.