Where else in the world can you stay in a converted tea factory, pluck your own tea and take it home with you as a souvenir? At 2km above sea level, the views over our lush green organic plantations as the sun mingles with the mist are truly unforgettable. Enjoy them as you tuck into high tea on the terrace or a delicious tea-themed menu in the restaurant. Welcome to Heritance Tea Factory, where the kettle is always on.
Heritance Tea Factory, a luxuriously appointed hotel at Nuwara Eliya, located in Sri Lanka’s scenic hill country, will prove to be a unique and unforgettable holiday experience. At approximately 14 km from Nuwara Eliya and 163 km from Colombo. It takes 6-7 hours to drive from Colombo and the international airport.
THE ORIGINS OF HETHERSETT
In 1867 a Scotsman, James Taylor, first introduced tea to Ceylon (as the island was then known). Within a decade, the plant had become a popular crop among colonial planters, covering over 5,000 acres.
As the number of requests to open tea plantations grew, the government sold land to pioneer planters in the 1870s. Among the bidders was William Flowerdew, who named his plantation after his native village, Hethersett, in England, and built a tea factory to process his crop.
In Tamil, the plantation is known as Pupanie, which means “flowers of frost” – a quaint way of describing the cold mist that occasionally descends on Hethersett. Mr Flowerdew had sold the plantation by 1881, and it then passed through the hands of different owners. In the Goatfell Bar you can see a list of all the planters, from William Flowerdew in 1879 to JME Waring until 1972, after which the factory closed down.
Before motorised transport, the tea was transported by bullock cart to Kandapola, from where a narrow-gauge railway ran to Udapussellawa via Nuwara Eliya. For a taste of yesteryear you can have dinner in one of the former railway carriages, now our TCK 6685 Restaurant.
The Hethersett tea plantation played an important role in the development of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. In 1891 its silver tip tea was auctioned at Mincing Lane in London for £1 10s 6d a pound – 30 times the prevailing average price at the time. This exciting achievement ensured that the Hethersett mark would become synonymous with quality pure Ceylon tea.
REBUILDING THE TEA FACTORY
The original wooden factory was damaged by fire during the First World War, so in the mid-1930s a hill was scalped to create a plateau for the new factory, which is the hotel today.
When it was first built it was regarded as a remarkable work of engineering. The factory was ingeniously powered by an oil fired engine with flywheels and pulleys to operate the large fans for withering the tea, and also to power the rollers and sifters.
But by 1968, the Hethersett factory had passed its heyday, and it was finally closed in 1973. It stood unused, among the surrounding tea bushes, a silent monument to the days of pure Ceylon tea.
In 1992, Mr G C Wickremasinghe, a Director of Aitken Spence and Company Limited, happened to observe the tea factory through the mist-covered hills. He had a vision of transforming the shell into a unique, luxury hotel.
The idea was brought to fruition through the talent of architect Nihal Bodhinayake. No alterations or additions have been made to the exterior – the windows and woodwork are entirely original as designed by British engineers. Heritance Tea Factory opened as a hotel in 1996.