How the great-nephew of a former prime minister created luxury villas in Sri Lanka
Great-nephew of former British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Jack Eden has lived and worked in Sri Lanka for 20 years. After vacationing with her young family in the mid-1990s, Eden quit her Hong Kong-based banking job to buy and renovate a historic property in Galle Fort.
How did you come up with the idea for Eden Villas? Shortly after arriving in Sri Lanka in 1998, my wife and I invested in a house in historic Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and over the next 24 months, the ‘have restored to its original form. Friends came to stay, and, having also invested, asked us to do the same for them. Eden Villas has grown organically since those early days.
Travel is a saturated market, what do you think Eden Villas has to offer that was not already available? It’s not what, it’s how. The well-being of our guests is our driving force. Relaxation and well-being come from within, and when we feel balanced there are so many benefits, from strengthening our immune systems to cultivating inner happiness. We want our guests to reconnect with themselves and have a remarkable experience.
Give us an idea of ââthe tourism market in Sri Lanka right now? As our clients begin to travel, we believe they will be even more experience-oriented, looking for things that give real meaning to the travel effort. We are adapting our service to cater for those who can stay longer, as more and more people get used to working remotely.
When you first quit your job, beyond spending time in Sri Lanka on vacation, why did you decide to come back? And what held you back there? When she was here on vacation in 1998, my wife, who spent part of her formative years in Fiji, had a deep connection to the flora and fauna of Sri Lanka. The lush and abundant tropical landscape touched her heart and truth be told, after that it was only a matter of ‘when’ we moved here. In 1998, in search of a better quality of life for our family, we made the decision to apply for the residency and, continuing to find this quality, we stayed.
The luxury market has changed dramatically in recent years, what is luxury for you? A space that effortlessly invites and maintains inner calm. This is only possible if everything is in harmony, architecture and landscape, service and cuisine, well-being of the employees.
How do you make sure you combine luxury and authenticity? We all have different benchmarks on what constitutes a âluxuryâ. To remain authentic, we ensure that our service is, at its root, from a place of benevolence.
What are your plans for the future, which cities can we expect to see from Eden Villas in the coming year? Well-being is all about balance, and if I thought being in multiple cities and countries would positively contribute to mine, I would consider expanding. Today I am focusing on Sri Lanka.
What are some of the technological innovations that are helping you and your business get through Covid-19? For Eden Villas to go through Covid-19, we are more dependent on the freedom to travel, airlines flying at reasonable prices, and limited quarantine periods on arrival and return. Once this happens, our guests will enjoy a paperless experience when communicating with their villa concierge on their portable device. Every aspect of their stay, from arrival and departure details, wellness treatments, booking a restaurant or a day trip to an ancient site or safari park, can be done by contacting their dedicated concierge through our new app.