Neo-Apartheid at Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya
Posted on February 26th, 2016

Yoshi karunarathna

This a about emerging discrimination against our own people by our own people ….

Today (19/2/2016) myself, my husband and his brother and wife, all Sri Lankans with latter two living in Canada, and all over 60 years of age and who have been civic-minded citizens holding professional and responsible jobs, went to the Thai Restaurant at the Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.

This is the third time I went there and sure it would be the last time.

Five minutes into our sitting down and chit chatting a waiter walks up to our table and says we are too loud!! At first we did not realize what all that meant or the gravity of his accusation. Then the penny dropped!

So we called back the waiter and asked him what he said and he said that the white customers at another table had complained that we are loud!! !@#++***@@!!! Hah!

Before leaving the place we demanded that we speak to the manager and asked him what all this is about, and he said the same thing.

We asked the manager, Mr. Tyrone David, on what basis he determined that the complaint should be taken up? Would he have taken it up if it was vice versa? What his idea of loudness in his restaurant is?

We asked him to put up a notice at the entrance of the restaurant on the allowable decibel level of noise in this restaurant!! That would help many people whether they want to go into that fly-infested restaurant or not!

Fly-infested – yes!! We had three flies hovering over our food and settling on the food!! On being asked to do something about the flies, a waitress brought a candle, but the flies seem to be permanent residents of the Thai Restaurant!!

Finally we told the manager, that before his waiter and himself tell us on what voice decibel levels we should be speaking at, it would be in their interest to ensure that there are no flies in this Five-Star(??) Hotel/Restaurant.

And the people who are supposed to have complained should not be going to restaurants which are generally noisy (NOT rowdy) and lively anywhere in the world, but get themselves into hermitages or libraries.

Having come home back to Kandy, curious to find out about the reviews of the Grand Hotel, I Googled and found the following posted on 11 Jan 2016 by Sara S of USA at

Perhaps this is a general issue with the hospitality industry in the region but as a Sri Lankan American, I felt the service was poor as the staff was “too busy” serving white guests with white glove service. I often had to wait a long time before staff arrived to take my order and attend to me. It was only when they realized I was a foreign passport holder when they bothered to attend to me. I noticed this was also an issue for any local Sri Lankan visiting as well. It’s an absolute shame and I hope the hotel will be in contact with me to discuss this less than pleasurable experience.

And this posted by Asif C on 30 Dec 2015:
We were in Sri Lanka for 7 days and had an amazing trip except the 2 nights at Grand Hotel which was very disappointing. Staff was inattentive, room furniture was falling apart, restaurants were of poor quality with extremely loud music and though not critical, no WiFi in rooms. The hotel now seems to cater more to budget group travelers and hence was crowded and staff did not pay attention to anybody. We went to Thai restaurant in the hotel for dinner and after waiting for more then an hour, walked out. The hotel was recommended by a Sri Lankan friend for its heritage but it clearly is a thing of the past and there are much better options in town.

NOLTE: We should have eaten at one of those quaint little eateries at the edge of Lake Gregory or anywhere else saving the joy enjoyed before this nasty encounter at the Grand Hotel’s fly-infested Thai Restaurant, and at a fraction of the cost!!



Dr Sarath Obeysekera

9 Responses to “Neo-Apartheid at Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


    Yoshi !! You would have had a much bitter experience, if you went next door to THE HILL CLUB. I have been there many times. It was run by 95% Tamils, then, in the 80s. If you are seated and waiting to be served, you will notice that Waiters are going about their business, but completely ignoring you. THE REASON ??? NO TIE. They don’t serve guests without a TIE.

    The Hotel had a very bitter experience during Sirimavo s Regime. Minister H.M. Navaratne went there for lunch with a bunch of his friends. He was in National Dress, and so were many of his friends. The Management asked him to leave, that they will not be served. Minster Navaratne was a very belligerent personality, when it comes to patent injustice. HE CREATED A SCENE. Iam holding onto the details. Walked out, saying, he is coming back. If I remember right, he came back with the SP N’eliya. The SP intimated to them who this man was, and they were forced to serve him and his friends, on the basis that the Hotel would be taken over by the Government then and there, if they were not served. The Manager, who lives some yards away onto the right of the Hill Club, was forced to vetoe all THE BRITISH RULES, for the first time in the History of Hill Club.

    Later, I heard that H.M.N. came there with friends, on a regular basis just to spite the management.

    Just one more incident. During the insurgency in the 80s The Hill Club was closed. The only occupant was the Superintendant of Police. When I went to N’eliya with a friend, he told me that his friend the SP has invited him for Dinner. WE sat there wanting to have a Beer, but there was a delay in the Service. A waiter came and told the SP that the two of us are without TIE, and cannot be served. SP went to his room and brought two TIEs for both of us. They did not respect even the SP when it came to just two of his friends. I DO NOT KNOW WHETHER THEY STILL HAVE THIS TIE RULE.

  2. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    This is a shocking disgrace.
    The G.H. N’eliya was a majestic hotel in bygone years with its famous billiard room and dining lounge.. Sadly it seems the travails of bigotry have infected the present administrators as a result of puny Thai influence. They should be admonished for their apathy.

  3. raviu Says:

    Both Sunil and Susantha’s comments were absolutely racist. It is restaurant serving Thai food. That doesn’t mean the way Sri Lankans/Brit who served/managed the restaurant reflect Thai culture. Thai people are very generous and hospitable and very decent. They don’t urinate and take dump in the streets. Further more, even in the smallest eateries in Thailand, there are no files. Always blame somebody else for inadequacy of our own and still expecting someday British will come back so they can clean their toilets.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    When Brits were colonising Lanka, the Colombo Swimming Club had a notice saying “Dog & Natives not allowed” !!!

    Supriority complex Colonial habits NOT welcome in Lanka.

    Such hotels ought to be taken to task by the Ministry concerned.

    Isn’t it nice to hear people chatting and laughing and enjoying themselves ? Something wrong here. Hotels are hotels, not places of worship or funeral parlors.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    IF this was Endia, Pakistan, Maldives or any other South Asian country the fate of the hotel staff and manager will be dire. Government, the military and the people must take action against this APARTHEID policy of mistreating locals.

    Looks like there are many more colonial leftovers to be dismantled.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    After talking to some who went there in the past 6 years from different ethnic communities, there may be an ETHNIC ISSUE (Singhala-Tamil) here as well. May be. It must be investigated. I talked to 5 people from the 2 main ethnic groups that patronized this hotel since 2010. Their experiences DIFFER and I can see a clear ethnic component. 5 is a small sample and I’m NOT coming to ANY conclusion.

    It must be investigated by the tourism ministry and also the reconciliation ministry.

    This is NOT good for reconciliation. All humans are EQUAL an belong to ONE race. NO ONE should be judged by the language, ethnicity, DRESS, skin color or political affiliation. This is NOT FW de Klerk’s south Africa or Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

  7. Dham Says:

    I am sure there is absolutely no “Thai influence” in this restaurant. We have millions of Chinese food places without any sign of Chinese culture or even the taste of food.

    I am also surprised and disappointed how ignorant and arrogant our people to blame Thais for ugly Sinhalaya’s faults.

    I resided in Buddhist Thailand for 2 years. My next country of residence was Singapore. This was in mid eighties. I was surprised to learn now dirty was Singapore compared to Thais.
    Thais are naturally very clean people.

    Anyway 3 flies are not considered dirty. Have you seen flies in Australian restaurants ? You should have visited Sri Pada toilets before blaming Thai culture.

  8. Dham Says:

    Friends, FYI , In mid eighties Thai hospitals were much cleaner and modern than Singapore hospitals.
    Thank you Raviu, we should share the TRUTH.

  9. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    raviu !! Just show one element of my being a racist in my comments. Also check the Dictionary for the meaning of “racist”.

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