Creation of a dream

To understand the motivation behind the vision of this brand, one has to go back to its creator’s origin and appreciate the relentless determination involved in a project of this nature.

Paul Harding, the visionary and founder of Harding Boutique Hotels, was born in Melbourne, Australia, to a Sri Lankan mother and Australian father. His first solid foods were dahl and rice and so a lifelong appreciation and love of his Sri Lankan heritage was born.

Gem Milhuisen, Paul’s great uncle, was one of the premier hoteliers of Sri Lanka and an innovative pioneer who opened the country’s first Geoffrey Bawa designed hotel, The Blue Lagoon, Negombo. Gem then partnered with good friend Herbert Cooray of Jetwing Hotels and purchased St. Andrews, Nuwara Eliya as well as many more luxurious hotels throughout the country.

At the age of 13, Paul took his dear grandfather, Denis Milhuisen, for his final visit to the homeland. It was on this poignant and moving trip that Paul fully understood the depths of his connection to both the culture and people of Sri Lanka. It was at this time that Paul made the commitment to himself to one day make this country his home, in honour of his grandfather.

In 2011, Paul stayed true to his promise and did that just that. After an interlude at Melbourne’s Michelin star restaurant, Vue de Monde, Paul followed his heart and packed up his life to embark on a life changing experience.

Harding Boutique Hotels, Sri Lanka

Shortly after settling in Sri Lanka, Paul went on to open Villa Hikkaduwa, the first boutique villa of its kind in Sri Lanka, following in the pioneering footsteps of his great uncle, Gem. Paul immediately knew that he had found his calling. Honouring the feelings and experiences he had as a young man had given Paul the opportunity to chase his dream.

Paul’s experience at Villa Hikaduwa enabled him to take his unique skill set to Dubai where he began carving out a career in event management. Knowing that his heart lay back in Sri Lanka, Paul used his spare time to begin preparing meetings with architects and builders to help design his own hotel.

A fundamental onus on the design of the hotel was in staying true to the principles of contextual tropical modernism, paying homage to Sri Lanka’s preeminent architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Working with internationally esteemed Dubai and London-based architect Jonathon Ashmore of design practice ANARCHITECT, Paul has been able to envision a contemporary interpretation of Sri Lankan architectural style and elegance.

Sri Lanka is truly a magnificent country. It is the spirit of its people, the warmth of its hospitality and the understated beauty of its landscape that separates this destination from all others. Paul’s dedication to excellence, combined with an ability to actualise his vision ensures that you experience only the very best of Sri Lankan hospitality. Paul presents to you:

Harding Boutique Hotels Logo

“This is the first of many establishments I plan for this country, the team and myself personally welcome you to paradise.”
Paul Harding – Founder and Creator

Aybowan