Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about suite reservations, transportation, eating, sightseeing, our services.

Making a reservation
Go to Rates & Booking Form page (click on this link), and complete the form. We will respond (usually within 24 hours) by e-mail.
We require a 50% advance payment of the total room charges as a confirmation of the suite. The remaining room charges, all meals, transport and additional services must be settled before departure. We accept all major credit cards as well as payment through bank transfers.

With a limited number of rooms, it is not easy to move bookings around and extend or change or just cancel a reservation. While we always try our best, there is the chance that we might not be able to accommodate your request.
No refunds will be given for unused rooms or cancellations less than four weeks before arrival. For postponed reservations or cancellations, there will be a fee of $50 per change per room.

Airport Pickup
We will arrange for pick-up in air-conditioned van with reclining seats for up to six passengers at Colombo International Airport or from a hotel in the capital. Some guests on tour with their own hired vehicle may come from other directions and in this case, we advise the driver/guide to call us ahead for directions.
The mini-van drivers speak some English and will meet the guests with a card bearing a principle name at the passenger arrival terminal. The journey from Colombo Airport is about four hours direct and between three and four hours from the capital depending on traffic on one of the most busy roads in Asia.
It is normal for the driver to stop halfway for a tea break and guests are in turn free to ask the driver to stop for refreshment in a hotel or teahouse en route. Once you have arrived at your designated villas, you are in the warm and friendly care of our Sri Lankan staff.

Depending on the hour of your flight arrival, you might wish to check into a hotel near the airport or in a Colombo Hotel for a few hours sleep. We can arrange for stopover bookings and the driver will pick you up at the hotel lobby at a pre-arranged time.

Air Taxis
Sri Lankan Airline operates amphibious planes from various destinations throughout Sri Lanka. Some of these flights are regular scheduled flights but can also be arranged on a charter basis. See for more information.

Getting to the villas / Driver’s instructions
Apa Beach Villas are in Thalpe, Galle area, 118 Km. south from Colombo. It is on the main coastal road between Galle and Matara, 7 Km. or 15 minutes drive South after Galle town.
Apa Villa Illuketia is situated inland, fifteen minutes by car after Galle town. Take a left turn to the Akuressa Road on the main Matara Road and pass the 4 Km. post, turn left into a lane opposite "Walkers Building" till two white dagobas or stupas welcome you to the red gate of Illuketia.

Activities while in the villas
Stepping into southern Sri Lanka is to enter a time warp, slipping back into the laid back 70’s. Take off your timepiece and languish in slow motion bliss. Often our guests don't leave the premises for days, indulging in the food and service, the occasional massage, the lush tropical surroundings on the beach or in the gardens.

When you are sufficiently relaxed, put down your book or binoculars and explore.
Galle and the surrounding area have some attractions worth visiting. Heritage sites, wildlife parks, eco-tours, boat rides, fishing trips, diving, bicycling are some popular activities.
Depending on your energy level, our manager and staff will be able to direct your interests to the appropriate activity and make all the arrangements for you.

We are also happy to present our own Map-Guide as a companion to your stay with us. It’s waiting in your room for your arrival. You will find details of the surrounding and useful highlights for your walks of the historic Galle Fort in your room.

These Map-Guides, as well as various pictures usable as your own postcards, can easily be downloaded from this web site (click on this link).
Or go to any print shop, give them this web site address and ask them for a full Color Printout of these maps prior to your visit.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner
In keeping with our standard of service and pampering of our guests, there is no time limit for breakfast throughout your stay. You are served whenever you are ready. If you have an early morning schedule, it is advisable to inform the houseboy of your villa the evening before so that he can wake you up at the appropriate time with a tray of tea or coffee. Breakfast is included with our room rates.
All the villas serve breakfast of fresh fruit, blended fruit juice, tea or coffee or milk. The main course for breakfast is the Western fare of eggs with sausages, bacon or cheese. We offer Sri Lankan breakfast specialties of plain or egg hoppers, a pancake of sort made with rice flour and coconut milk with an egg added. Hoppers have to be ordered the evening before. A favourite for breakfast is the buffalo milk curd with sweet treacle. We appreciate if our guests decide at breakfast whether they will have lunch or dinner at the villa so our cooks can prepare accordingly.

Apa Villas are renowned for our cuisine using our homegrown vegetables, herbs and local rice with a daily set menu for dinner. Our emphasis is on fresh seafood cooked to Western and Oriental recipes. Guests are encouraged to order lunch or dinner in the morning. Special diets will be taken into consideration. Lunch is usually light snacks ordered a la carte. We serve wine, beer and cocktail with or without liquors.
We can organize celebration dinners for up to 20 guests with advance notice. We also recommend other establishments in Galle town for dining out.

International calls, fax and use the Internet
Apa Villa and Illuketia have land lines with international direct dial for telephone and fax. Our office is equipped with a fax machine and computers. Internet connection is available. Sri Lanka is a developing country on many levels, and communication facilities are still somewhat unpredictable or slow. Guests are welcome to make long-distance calls and use of Internet at a normal rate plus service charge from our office.

The telephone and fax number at Apa Villa is +94 91-2283 320. For Illuketia, the phone number is +94 91-4381 411, fax +94 91-4381 410.
Messages can be taken by the staff and will be left in your suite if you are unavailable.

Library and games
We are proud of the libraries in the public areas of our villas. Feel free to browse through the books and newspapers at any time during your stay. We appreciate that you leave them behind on your departure. The English Sri Lankan newspapers are available locally. You will find a copy of the “Daily Mirror” in our library.
At Illuketia, a billiard table is ready for players. Television and a video player are recently and reluctantly introduced at Illuketia library.

Our villas are child-friendly
We welcome families. Our staff understands the needs of children and their parents. We provide a cot with mosquito net for an infant or a young child. Children up to 11-years-old sleeping in the same room as their parents get free food and accommodation.
Both properties have swimming pools, water channels and courtyard ponds; while the Pond House at Illuketia Estate has a natural lotus pond. These water features add to the aesthetic beauty and are much admired. Parents with children who are non-swimmers should be aware of these pools and to take care. Our staff remains vigilant when young guests are around but it is strictly the responsibility of parents to look after their children at all times. Request for a baby-sitter can be arranged. Our swimming pools are maintained daily to the best standard and there is a shallow end of the pool for children to dip in safely.

Getting around outside of the villas
The fun way to move around Galle area is with the “tuk-tuk” or three-wheeler scooter with a back passenger seat for up to three persons. We can arrange for one with an English-speaking driver. It is best that you retain the driver throughout your outing or to get him to pick you up at a location where you drop off. An air-conditioned van with driver can be hired by the hour for a minimum of three hours to take you sightseeing or for day trips. Charges can be added to your bill and settled at the end of your stay.

Beach and Ocean
Swimming in the sea in front of ApaVillas and along the southern coast is for experienced swimmers, divers, surfers or snorkelers because of extensive coral reefs extending right up to shore. We advise beach shoes along the coral reef. There are sandy beach lagoons, popular or secluded, only minutes away from ApaVillas, or 15 minutes from Illuketia. Our staff will give directions, can guide you and arrange transport.

Remarkably, right off Apa Beach Villa in Thalpe is a coral reef ranging in depth from 15 to 30 meters and stretching for kilometers on end. During the November to April season, dives along the reefs will allow you to encounter giant groupers, barracudas, sweet lips, lion fish, lobsters among other species. For divers with certificates, we are able to arrange for hiring of modern equipment and experienced instructors/guides from a reliable nearby dive shop. Open water dive certifications are possible within three days.

We have 24-hour professional security guard service at Apa Villa and Illuketia. Our watchmen patrol the premises during the night. To ensure your safety and privacy, they will ask all visitors entering our premises to identify themselves.

Our staff is trustworthy, but as an extra precaution it is advisable to keep all your valuables locked in our office safe. Please do not leave personal items outside your suite at night! We are unable to accept responsibility for the loss of any item not stored in our safe.

Our staff work very hard to ensure you have a pleasant stay. Should you wish to leave them a gratuity, please pass this to our office. All service charges and tips received are divided equally among all staff members.

The country uses 230-240 volts, 50 cycles, alternating current. The outlets are three-pin and you may require an adaptor to suit your electronic devices. Power tends to fluctuate or fail especially during thunderstorms. In this case, pull out your plugs as a safety measure.

Water in Sri Lanka is a precious commodity. Please do use it sparingly. Hot water is supplied by solar power and electricity. Bottled drinking water is provided in each suite and restocked when you have emptied your supply.

A hairdryer is available in each bathroom.

You will find a laundry list and bag in your cupboard. Laundry is collected and hand-washed by our local “dhobi” and returned the following day. There is no dry cleaning.

Bath and pool towels are provided for your use, but for the sake of the environment, please consider re-using them unless they are soiled. Towels are changed every two days; if you require a change earlier, simply leave your towel on the floor. The striped towel is for pool and beach use; please do not take white bath towels to the beach.

Mosquito Repellents
Mosquitos in Sri Lanka are a seasonal affair and in any case less frequent than in other places in Asia. Nevertheless we provide coils in every suite and recommend that you use them at dusk as mosquitoes emerge. If you wish, each evening a scented coil will be lit on your verandah and anti-mosquito tablets replaced in the electric “mossie mat” beside your bed.

Dietary Requirements
If you have special food requirements, please let us know and we will make sure that your meals are especially prepared for you.

In December 2004 tsunami waves rolled into Apa Villa's coconut grove, and caused damage to our beach villas made further aggrieved by the onslaught of looters and vandals the following days. We are thankful that none of our guests or staff was hurt. For over a week our Illuketia inland estate was a refuge for our guests and 50 more island visitors. The calm and reassurance of the garden surroundings left a deep impression after the ordeal.
We restored Apa Villa shortly after and raised it to another level of luxury and comfort in the process. All suites are fitted with new everything. All of our staff was retained over the twelve months of rebuilding. Some of them lost loved ones and their homes, and we managed to help where possible. The tsunami was an extremely rare geological event and is very unlikely to be repeated in our lifetime.

Several people are baffled by the name of our villas. Why Apa Villas ?
‘Apa’ is an all-encompassing Malay word I came to know and use over the years of my travel in this part of the world. It means ‘what’ and serves as a prefix to ‘apa lagi’ (what more?), apa macham (how?) and apa khabar (what’s new or what’s the news?).
When I incorporated my business of publishing guidebooks in 1970, I chose Apa Publications as my company name. Initially the guides were known as Apa Guides, later renamed Insight Guides for the English language editions.
Over the course of 35 years of producing guidebooks, I have relocated my work place and home in several countries. Personal life and professional life intermingled and gravitated towards talents in journalism, editorial and photography. Working relationship often turned into lifelong friendship too.
During these times my residences turned into open houses of mutual exchange and collaboration and simply evolved into Apa Villas. Casual visitors, colleagues and houseguests may recall moments spent in Apa Villas in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Munich, London, New York and Honolulu.
Decades of relentless journeying have allowed me to experience the services and facilities of countless hotels and lodgings. In the end, it was always the hospitality of small inns and family-run guesthouses that I have enjoyed and remembered most.
In 1993 I re-built an old estate house inland from Galle, followed by a cluster of bungalows on the beach close by. I later decided to open both properties to guests who will appreciate our own blend of friendly yet discreet service: tasteful decor in a peaceful and intimate atmosphere. Our guests are invited to share our world and likewise, we are interested to know theirs.
We have an open house policy in which guests in the beach villas and plantation estate are free to use either of the facilities during their stay with us. We also accept dinner reservation selectively from guests of other hotels in the Galle area.

Welcome to Apa Villas Sri Lanka.


Hans Hoefer

For any other information and help the golden rule is “to ask the manager” …