Taprobane Island


Taprobane Island Taprobane Island was originally built in the 1920's by the romantically named but self styled Count de Mauny-Talvande. The island with its Neo Palladian mansion has played host to kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, aristocracy, writers and eccentrics, giving it a very colourful history, which guests can now share.

The Island comprises 2 1/2 acres of sheer tropical fantasy with nothing between it and the South Pole. Accommodation is provided for in 5 en-suite bedrooms, with spacious living areas, balconies, verandahs, tropical gardens and a stunning infinity pool. A staff of 5 cater for your every need; in fact after arrival, guests frequently never leave the Island until their departure.

Sri Lanka's only privately owned island. The No.1 address in the Indian Ocean. "An impossibly romantic island villa eccentrically accessible only by wading through the sea." - Conde Nast Traveller

Taprobane Island is located on Sri Lanka's exotic south coast which is quietly becoming the Riviera of choice for the world's most discerning and inquisitive travellers. Centrally located to the UN World Heritage site of Galle Fort, Buddhist temples, rainforests, lowland tea plantations, wildlife reserves and some of the most fabulous beaches in the Indian Ocean.

Taprobane Island sits just 200 yards off the Southern Coast in the centre of Weligama Bay - a 4 1/2; hour drive south of Colombo's International Airport or, for guests wishing to come by sea plane or helicopter, a journey that takes less than one hour.

The island is just a 30 minute drive south of the Southern Provinces capital, Galle - home of the historic UN World Heritage site of Galle Fort. Access to the island from the coast is usually made by wading through the surf on foot, or by some, on elephant or sedan chair! Amazingly, there is nothing between the island and the South Pole. There are local cars and three-wheeler taxis (tuk tuks) which can be summoned from nearby for local trips.

The history of Taprobane Island...
Of the sizable stream of European adventurers, artists, and romantics who have sought out their personal Eden s in the tropics, one of the first was Count de Mauny-Talvande. A gentleman of leisure, furniture maker and a descendent of one of Napoleon's Generals. His first trip to Ceylon, as it was then called, was in 1912 with the tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton. This visit was his first experience of the tropics and clearly made a deep impression. He returned after the First World War on a mission to find "the one spot which, by its sublime beauty, would full fill my dreams and hold me there for life."

It was ten years before he found his paradise: a tiny islet on the south coast of Ceylon. Set in a huge bay, this rocky outcrop covered with lush foliage rises from the water just beyond a broad sandy beach. For the Count it epitomized every child's fantasy of a South Seas tropical island. On seeing this vision, the intrepid count waded across (even at high tide the water rises only to the chest) and , in his words, "sat for a long while on a boulder overlooking the sea wishing that this island lost in the Indian Ocean were mine; picturing and planning what I should do with it. I felt my heart beating with the overwhelming desire to find in it peace, the nearest thing to happiness. Yes, it must be the home which I had dreamt of so many years past."

Christening his island Taprobane (Named because it is the similar shape to the island of Sri Lanka nee Ceylon), the ancient Greek name for Ceylon, he built an octagonal villa that allowed for verandahs in every direction; a 1930's folly, which, with small gardens extending through the foliage to the overhanging edges, fully occupied the crest of the island. Rooms revolved outward from a grand central space, and the whole resolved in as open a plan as possible, to allow the flow of space and air. With verandahs spilling out to embrace the landscaped garden and stepped terraces hovering over the ocean, one has the sensation there of living on a landscaped cruise boat.

By embracing the climate and verdant surroundings in Taprobane, the count helped pioneer an indoor-outdoor approach to tropical house design that Europeans, arriving in the tropics with no previous experience in outdoor living, usually approached with great trepidation.

During the 30 years that Count de Mauny made Taprobane his home he played host to Kings, Statesmen, Aristocracy, Governors and Magnates; the gardens and neo paladin house becoming a drawing point to all those entranced by beauty.

After the count died in the late 40's in Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka, Taprobane continued to attract new generations of romantics. The American writer Paul Bowles lived here for many years, alternating seasonally with his better known home in Morocco. Paul Bowles made it his home for 4 years, during which time he wrote the "Spider House". It was on the insistence of his wife that he moved back to Morocco full time.

The island became neglected for many years until a brief period in the 1970's when the son of the painter Balthus held court there and captivated many a young visitor! It was not, however, until 1995 when the present owner moved in, that the process of restoring the island to its heyday was begun. A process which has been continued over a period of years making it one of the most romantic villas in the world.
Distance From Colombo : 152 km
At Taprobane Island you have your own private chef to provide you with delicious tropical cuisine with a focus on the freshest of local ingredients. Meals are predominantly seafood with an Asian influence. Our chef is equally at home making the most delicious Sri Lankan curries. A highlight of living on Taprobane is being able to experience sunset cocktails or dining in so many amazing locations overlooking the Indian Ocean. Whether it's cocktail hour, lunch time or dinner time, our staff will ensure that each location is memorable & unique.

The sprawling octagonal house, with its cool white terrazzo floors and high wooden ceilings has 5 spacious en-suite bedrooms each with sea views. Light and airy living areas and shaded terraces & verandahs provide many a secluded spot to sunbathe, paint or read.
Taprobane Island
Positive :
  • The Villa's history - Recorded in framed letters, notes and photos
  • The sheer luxury and the staff of six, including a cook, to look after your every need
  • Proximity to shore - For excursions
  • The security guard who patrols the island to maintain your privacy.
Negative :
  • Guests must forget their dignity and wade through the shallow sea water to get to the island, but this is all part of the excitement
  • If the weather turns, there is little protection - the wind blows straight through the house from one terrace to another
  • Weligama and its beach are nothing special, though idyllic tropical sands are not far away
Activities :
  • To muster the art of doing absolutely nothing, but gazing out into the sea... Learning the songs of the seas...
Taprobane Island
* "The scene was so peaceful and so completely relaxing... That I managed to escape from the tyranny of the typewriter, the equal of San Michele, the place where I learned to wear a sarong." - Arthur C Clarke, The Reefs of Taprobane

* "An embodiment of the innumerable fantasies and day dreams that have flitted through my mind since childhood." - Paul Bowles on Taprobane

* "Seems like the invention of an eccentric imagination"

* "I ask forgiveness for not exclaiming more often or cooing louder"

* "As we waded across to the steps of the house, we were speechless"

* "In Taprobane did Geoffrey a stately pleasure dome decree..."

* "A triumph of vision, perseverance and generosity"

* "Nothing will ever match Taprobane for location and character"

* "Perfection in every art consists in the complete accomplishment of its purpose, and in Taprobane it is total"

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