David Stockwell, a 54-year-old, retired Brit, who first visited Sri Lanka in October 1997 fell so deeply in love with this resplendent island that he has so far visited the country 23 times. He is planning his record 24th visit at the end of September.
I met David when he came to Sri Lankan High Commission in London to obtain his visa because he plans to stay over for six weeks this time.
”My first trip to Sri Lanka in 1997 wasn’t planned, but an almost spur of the moment thing, I had some leave owing to me at work and had to use it by the year end. After browsing many different brochures, I came across a Sri Lankan one issued by Kuoni, liked what I saw, and thought that this could be nice”, he recalled.
Booked with Kuoni only about 3 weeks, this was to be a relaxing beach holiday, as no travels around the country were planned. The hotel I chose was The Triton at Ahungalla, now renamed Heritance Ahungalla, he said.
”Well, no guessing for what happened, I fell in love with this place, I had travelled all over the world in my lifetime, but nowhere I had been was like this. The people are so wonderful, and made me feel at home the moment I arrived at the hotel. I vowed I must return, and I did just that the following year, but this time I planned a longer trip and took a round tour before heading back to Ahungalla”, he recounted with a broad smile.
”I visited on my round tour were, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and down to Yala and on through Galle to Ahungalla. Of course, when I arrived back at The Triton, the staff recognized me right away and welcomed me back there with open arms and huge smiles. Now, how nice is that, nowhere I had ever travelled to anywhere in the world had ever treated me like that!”
”I have now been to Sri Lanka 23 times, and in a few weeks will be my 24th visit to what has become my Second Home, and the staff at Heritance Ahungalla frequently remind me that this is indeed my Second Home, and that they are like an extended family to me”, Stockwell said.
”I now book the hotel directly with them, and book my own flights down too. Incidentally I always fly with SriLankan Airlines, and my holiday begins the moment I board the aircraft at Heathrow. Some members of the airline crew are also familiar faces too and recognize me when I fly with them. So nice”, he enthused.
He said he would recommend Sri Lanka to anyone, and one of the most often asked questions is, “Why do you got there so much?”. “My reply is always the same, “Go and find out”, of course many have, including my own family too, and all have the same opinion now as I do, What a beautiful country and lovely people too.
”I have visited Sri Lanka in good times and bad, during the troubles there, and was actually on my way home when the airport was attacked back in 2001, yes this was a scary time, but even this did not deter me from returning to Sri Lanka”, the affable Brit smiled.
”I am very happy that the troubles in Sri Lanka are now over. The people have gone through some bad times, and now is the chance for them and the country to get back on its feet again, and it so nice to see so much effort to rebuild the tourism trade now”.
“I am now giving something back to Sri Lanka, I am a Destination Expert for Sri Lanka on the Trip Adviser website, in this role I can advise fellow travellers of the best things to see, places to go, hotels to stop at etc. This is all done in my free time without payment, and it is a privilege to do so”, he beamed.
07 September 2010 – As seen on Aitken Spence Hotels Blog.