How to start a hotel business in Sri Lanka?

6 min read
How to start a hotel business in Sri Lanka

Whether you are looking for thrills, serenity, nature or even adventure in the wild, then Sri Lanka is the place to be. Boasting of its pristine golden beaches, lush green mountains and valleys and biodiversity, Sri Lanka has earned its place ranked at No.1 in the Lonely Planet best place to travel. It is a country where many ethnicities live in harmony adding more vibrancy to its very rich culture. The country faced political instability due to certain extremist activity and it affected the country’s economy. However, after the appointment of the new president Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s economy will grow.

Tourism is one of the main foreign revenue sources in the Country. It helps the country’s economy by generating revenue & job opportunities.

The local travel within the country for many purposes such as holidays, pilgrimage, family holiday or sight-seeing. Main areas they visit include Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sri Pada, Sigiriya, Dambulla.

Jaffna and surrounding areas in the North & East Provinces have also become popular tourist attractions since the bloody civil war that lasted 30 years ended in 2009.

The newest attractions however are the giant mammals of the ocean and land, Whales! Whale watching in the area of Mirissa is becoming popular amongst the domestic and International tourists. Adding to the pleasure are the playful pods of Dolphins that are usually seen accompanying and swimming alongside the boats. It sure excites the young little traveler and also the young-at-heart individuals!

Yet, we see a few drawbacks in the industry as well. But, rest assured, none of which are too difficult to handle. One such major drawback is the impact that quick modern tourism has on the local community. What suits the foreign traveler, may or may not suit the needs of the local traveler. While we try to establish, we need to pay attention to our mother nature. In certain areas, we do see the bio diversities threatened by the development of mass tourism. After all, the whole reason that people would want to travel to the country is to experience its glorious natural resources.

Statistics show that 2,333,796 foreigners travelled to Sri Lanka in 2018 & 2,050,832 in 2016. We see an increase in the number of visitors. Domestic travelers in 2014 read at 6,000,000.

Once you have looked into the benefits and drawbacks of entering the business then we can move on to how we should get started.

These guidelines are according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.


Every great Hotel needs a beautiful location that is accessible to travelers. Not only so, the Hotel should look and feel spacious to relax and rest the mind of the person. It should be complete with good quality furniture. The whole outlook should fit the look of a deluxe Hotel. The approach, the landscape, entrance should give the traveler a sense of happiness. The sound level of the hotel should be 50dBA during the day & 45dBA at night. You need to focus on the architecture of the Hotel. It needs to blend in with the environment and the greenery should make the ambiance pleasant.


The Hotel should have 10 bedrooms with attached bathrooms. The building should not exceed more than two storeys including the ground floor. In case of power failure, you should have a power generator that can provide power 100%.

  • -The linen room should be well ventilated, have adequate space and storage for new and used linen is necessary.
    • An area to clean fish, vegetables and meat should be available to maintain proper hygienic standards.
    • The building and surrounding should be fumigated in order to keep out insects such as mosquitos & flies and also rats and other vermin.
    • Make sure to use bio-degradable detergents & chemicals.
    • When designing the Hotel, you must follow international standards.
    • The hotel must provide security to its guests. If necessary, surveillance measures should be in place.
    • There should be proper toilet facilities to non-residents as well.

3. Main Services

– There should be good quality water. Water quality should be as per government standards for potable water.

– All gas and electrical equipment should also adhere with safety regulations.


– Size : min. 30.0sqm (excluding balcony & toilet)

– The width : No less than 3.0m

· Bed Linen / Towels & Pillows

Bed Linen (high percentage of Cotton), blankets and covers, anti-allergy pillows, absorbent bath towels, hand towels & bath mats in white colour, to be provided on request. Bath robes and slippers provided should also be of good quality.

  • Main entrance doors should shut automatically when closed from outside.
    • While there should be measures to let in natural air into the room, internationally accepted temperature comfort range should be maintained by using proper air conditioning.
    • If the outside temperature falls below 20C there should be a thermostat-controlled heating system that can regulate and maintain the temperature at 24C.
    • A key less safety deposit locker should be available in all rooms.
    • Internet/email facilities should be provided if required by guests.
    • Emergency exits are to be clearly displayed on the inner surface of the entrance door of the room.
    • The main door should have a master key / card system while being able to lock from inside.

5. Bathrooms

  • Size – Minimum 4. 5sq.m in area
    • Natural or mechanical ventilations should be installed to get rid of stale air.
    • Hot/cold water facility should be provided with water saving fixtures and fittings.
    • Bathrooms should have adequate lighting with mirror lights. Lighting levels should be
  • General – 120Lax
  • Mirror – 300Lux

6. Housekeeping

Spacious housekeeping pantries with running water should be provided to ensure smooth & efficient guest service.


  • Dining facilities with the highest standards & a personalized service for resident and guests should be provided.
    • Tableware, table linen, cutlery, crockery, glassware should be in very high quality and in adequate quantities.
    • In the bar, a suitable glass washing facility with running hot & cold water with a mixer tap should be available.
    • The bar should have all different types of glasses suitable for various beverages.
    • An Ice cube machine connected to a sterilized water supply should be made available.

8. Kitchen

  • A dish washing machine is preferable; but, when not available three sinks with hot & cold water with mixer taps must be made available.
    • Kitchen staff needs to be well trained and knowledgeable.
    • A well planned kitchen is recommended where segregation of different activities within the kitchen made available.
    • There should be proper ventilation to get rid of odours. The sinks used to wash dishes and hands placed away from the cooking area.
    • Kitchen table tops and shelves should be of stainless steel and maintained well. Kitchen utensils should be of good quality, clean and adequate.
    • The kitchen should be well equipped to be able to prepare international cuisines.
    • All cooked and uncooked food should be covered & highest standards of hygiene should followed when storing food.
    • You must use different bins for different types of waste.(Food waste/paper/plastic/glass)
    • All deeps freezers & cold rooms should be maintained at the proper temperatures. Meat & sea food should be stored separately from dairy & processed food.
    • You should store perishables at controlled temperatures while dry foods should stored in a way that avoids cross contamination of smells and flavours.
    • All shelving inside the freezers should be made of stainless steel.
    • A cellar to store liquors and wines should be at correct storage temperatures.
    • Kitchen are should be free from rodents & insects. Fly screens should installed as necessary.
    • Chemicals such as paints, stationary & tools should needs to be in a well-ventilated area separated from others.
    • Electrical sockets should be strategically placed.
    • All drain outlets in and out the kitchen should be well sealed & proper cleaning facilities should be in place. No open drains in the Kitchen!
    • There should be arrangements to separate fat from kitchen waste water. Environmental regulations needs to be followed when treating separated kitchen waste water, fat, sewage, and laundry waste water.

9. Sanitary and safety requirements

  • Dry garbage to must be stored in a covered & ventilated area until disposed. Recyclable garbage stored & disposed separately, while the wet garbage to stored in a well-covered area.
    • Preventive measures should be taken to avoid lightening strikes and first aid made available at all times.
    • A Doctor should be available 24/7
  • The hotel should hold a comprehensive Hoteliers Insurance policy.

10. Swimming Pool

Depth marking and safety signs should displayed & water quality must be maintained by checking twice a day. Life guards are essential and adequate number of showers installed. Good quality Pool deck furniture needs to be available.

11. Facilities for differently abled guests

The Hotel must comply with the clause, “Protection of the rights of persons with disabilities”

12. Staff

All staff need to go through a yearly medical examination. Make sure that proper changing and toilet facilities provided. The staff has to be qualified and maintain good professionalism. It is preferable for the staff to wear a Uniform. When considering staff  accommodation, the facility should be well ventilated/ lit and clean.

See related article Top rated hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka