The idyllic beach resort run by Sri Lanka’s bloated military

Posted by Ed 2 mths ago 

The Laya is much like any other three-star resort on Sri Lanka’s glistening coast. About an hour south of Colombo, it is a popular spot for weddings and city dwellers hoping the sprawling beachfront garden, cricket pitch and bring-your-own-booze restaurant will help them forget the island’s economic crisis for a weekend.

Yet the hotel, part of a chain that includes a jungle lodge and safari retreat, is not a typical hospitality venture. It is just one commercial project run by Sri Lanka’s vast armed forces, which spans farms to a passenger airline.


There are few signs of the hotel’s martial ownership. While the staff are civilians, the Laya’s general manager is an army officer. “The people wouldn’t even guess that [these hotels] are military-run,” said Sanath Karunaratne, a retired major general. “It is a totally civilian environment.”


The military’s creep into the country’s civil sphere is a controversial, lasting legacy of the mass build-up during the 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. Despite more than a decade of peace, Sri Lanka’s military remains among the world’s largest on a relative basis. 

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