Spearheading the respectful renovation of Galle Fort
Leading Fort’s transformation
If there is one hotel that spearheaded the transformation of Fort it is Galle Fort Hotel. In 2003 the Australian/Singaporean couple Karl Steinberg and Christopher Ong fell in love with this dilapidated structure, they hired the best Sri Lankan heritage architects and spent two years renovating it into a boutique heritage hotel with a lovely veranda and deep garden. No efforts were spared to bring back the original details and the painstaking work earned the project a UNESCO Asia Pacific heritage conservation award, setting the standard for renovation projects in the years to come.
In the Dutch period it was the private mansion of a wealthy merchant, the large reception rooms and grand veranda making it one of Fort’s most prestigious residences. But it was not until the 1920’s that it became the “The most glamorous home on the island” when it was revamped with a ceremonial reception arch and Doric columns for the “glittering gem family” Maccan Markars.
Restaurateur Karl Steinberg and Christopher Ong share: ”The building lived so many lives; in the war RAF soldiers stayed here, and after the war it was a post office, a gem shop, a bakery and for a while even a Fort boy’s cricket pitch."