Date: October 2018
Location: Sri Lanka
Name: Lucky Beach Tangalle
Buyer: 33-year-old Gina Lyons and 35-year-old Mark Lee, on their honeymoon like the hotel so much they bought it, after having had a skinful!
They apparently got so drunk on their honeymoon in Sri Lanka, that when they woke up the next day, it turned out they had agreed to buy an entire hotel.
The couple live in London. What happened on their honeymoon is almost like a scene right out of a movie. They got to their hotel, checked in, started to drink a little bit of rum on the beach, and then learned from one of the bartenders, Isuru, there that the lease on the hotel where they were staying was almost up.
It was a rustic beach hotel, and one that certainly had a scenic enough location. The staff, of course, was being very friendly. Hey, they must have thought, somewhere on their way to downing 12 glasses of rum on the beach, maybe this would be a nice investment opportunity?
The couple apparently decided to take on the lease of the hotel, which was to the tune of £30,000.
Hotel investors, of course, come in all shapes and sizes, as well as from many backgrounds.
These honeymooners, however, seem an unlikely sort to be buying a hotel. In fact, they actually live in what has been described by the media as a tiny flat near Croydon in South London.
News reports say they hadn’t even finished paying off the same wedding that they had come to Sri Lanka to celebrate.
The Daily Mirror had the whole story, noting that Gina and Mark really did buy the hotel, which they’ve now renamed Lucky Beach Tangalle.
In the cruel and sober light of day, the couple initially regretted their decision to buy the hotel (who wouldn’t?), but they’ve certainly made the most of the tipsy investment opportunity, having since opened a seven-room B&B at the end of July, with reports suggesting they’ve also welcomed a steady inflow of customers.
They brokered the deal wearing their beachwear and promptly hired Isuru as the front-of-house manager and another local, Milinda, as their general manager. Then a fresh set of challenges presented themselves.
Gina told Lonely Planet about the most difficult part of the sale. “Being based in England was the hardest challenge, the lack of Sinhalese, the unknown laws.” They were also given plenty of conflicting advice but ultimately had to make their own choices. “Everyone had told us to be careful trusting people but the truth is, we trusted Milinda and Isuru – and I am glad, because they are friends for life. I would trust them with my life.”
Gina remembers the refurbishment as being their favourite part of the process. “It was physically exhausting but so rewarding. We hired all locals, we played music loud, ate takeout, and all painted and made furniture all together. It was a really special time.”
The result is Lucky Beach Tangalle. Describing itself as a place for ‘flashpackers’, it opened in July this year with just seven sea view rooms and an on-site restaurant and it’s already been getting rave reviews from guests.
With the refurbishment complete, the guests leaving satisfied and the couple continuing to successfully juggle their Sri Lankan business and their British careers, their drunken decision appears to have paid off. With a new baby in the home too though, they’ve declared that all their future big decisions will be made sober.
They certainly do seem like a couple who know how to be hospitable, if nothing else. Again, hoteliers are a sometimes eclectic bunch who come from a varied and diverse array of places. This, however, might be one of the most wild stories we’ve ever heard in terms of how someone first got into the hospitality business to start.
THPT Comment: The moral of the story is……………
First Seen: Top Hotel News