Colombo’s newest five star hotel is truly grand in every sense of the word. Named after the island’s most famous spice, the luxurious property in the commercial heart of Colombo caters to the international traveler’s every need and desire. And after riding over a crowded and bumpy road for five hours coming from Kandy, we had several of them. Ready for a nice cup of cappuccino, we ambled through polished glass doors after black suited, white gloved doormen tipping their heads, greeting us with “Welcome madam, welcome sir.” The rush of cool, cinnamon scented air and the gushing marble fountain under a dripping crystal chandelier made me pause for a moment. Stunned, I couldn’t believe this palatial grandeur surrounding me just steps from the chaotic hustle of Galle Road and beyond. But such are the staggering differences between rich and poor in many Asian countries. With room prices starting at $200.00 a night (20.000 Sri Lankan Rupees, twice the monthly salary of most people), the going rate in most 5 star hotels, only foreigners and the super rich Sri Lankans can afford to frequent the exclusive premises, off limits for ‘tuk tuks’ and the have-nots. And chances that the gap between the ‘haves and have-nots’ will shrink any time soon are as distant as the moon considering the lack of significant improvements I have noticed since my first stay here in 1982. Adding to the problem is the civil war that was waged between 1983 and recently which resulted in a stalled economy and lack of foreign investment, halting any further progress in infrastructure and public services. So, thinking of all this as I sip my cappuccino, I consider myself pretty lucky to be able to enjoy all the amenities this five star hotel/resort has to offer. A charming staff caters to your needs in seven eating outlets featuring an eclectic mix of international cuisine, an English Pub, Tea Lounge, a Coffee Shop, a Pool bar. And if that is not enough, a 24 hour room service tops it all off. For the ultimate pampering you can finish off your day on a relaxing note, choosing an array of Ayurveda massages to soothe your body, mind and soul.