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Why We Established The Max Wadiya

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

What's the genesis of The Max Wadiya?

As we launch our refashioned web site, it's a good time to tell a bit of our story..

It began as a holiday home for Arthur and Ruth Max, who were then living in New Delhi. Art was bureau chief of The Associated Press for South Asia, with Sri Lanka an important part of his beat. Once there on a holiday with friends, we fell under the spell of the beach, the crimson sunsets, the easy island pace and the friendliness of the people. We were encouraged by our friend Mangala Moonesinghe, who was then High Commissioner in Delhi, to look for a property that could be a regular retreat from the stress of the job and the Delhi heat. In late 1998 we found an antique furniture showroom for sale on the Galle Road. One look from the tiny back window over an unkept jungle to the ocean, the afternoon sun striking a glistening path across the water, and we knew we had found our place.

Through other friends in Delhi, we connected with one of the island's top old-guard architects, Justin Samarasekara. His daughter Dhaniya was of immense help in swimming through the bureaucracy, finding us a lawyer and making sure we didn't fall into the many potential pitfalls foreigners can stumble into.

Justin designed a house that, rather than turning its back on the sea, embraced it. By the eve of the millenium, it was ready, and a gang of Delhi journos joined us to ring in the new century. The photo above shows the nascent garden as it was then, barely more than a sandy patch of old coconut trees and a few native shrubs. It wasn't long before the inevitable job reposting came that took us to Europe. The house was left for annual vacations, the use of good friends and the occasional rental.

Then, on Dec. 26, 2004, we were hit by a tsunami. But that's a story for another post. Long story short, we rebuilt and extended the property, and decided to make it a commercial venture. From her new base in Amsterdam, Ruth took on the task of creating a boutique hotel -- with the indispensible on-site help of Ranjan, the manager. Our overriding theme was to build the kind of a boutique hotel we ourselves would like to visit, a place to totally unwind in luxury and soothing surroundings, where you never worry about the costs of tea/coffee, wifi, laundry and the like -- a place like home.

In 2006 The Max Wadiya opened its gates.

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