It's Christmas Time In Sri Lanka
Americans think we know how to decorate for Christmas, but we can’t hold a candle to the décor at the Cinnamon Grand in Sri Lanka.
I’m spending the last two days of the South Asian franchise trade mission in the Disney World of Christmas (minus the rides). Last night as our car pulled into the circular driveway, we were heralded by a bevy of 12-foot mesh angles, blowing trumpets, framed with white lights. Tiny white lights twinkled from high ceilings to low tables. Inside garlands punctuate the door and overly decorated trees sit in every corner and in between. It is a vision to behold.
Because the centerpiece of the lobby is a coffee/confection bar, a goodly number of the trees are decorated in its pink-and-white theme. The coffee bar has an abundance of Christmas cakes to order (my favorite was a stack of square layers of presents atop Santa’s face), and prepackaged sweets. A wreath covered with marshmallows and mini-treats advertises their specialties, marshmallow coffees and marshmallow calzone pizza (if I was Anthony Bourdain, I would have ordered the pizza, but if I didn’t cook organ meats in a hotpot in China, I figured I shouldn’t break my squeamish appetite streak on marshmallows).
Remember this is December 8 and the decorations have been up for awhile. And even more odd is that Sri Lanka’s official religion is Buddhist (70+ percent). Catholics and Christians combined only equal about 7 percent of the population, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Coincidentally, on the day I write this, work stopped on the 328-foot outdoor Christmas tree that was being built to unite the three main faiths that live on this island country. Volunteers and workers were three months into the project when a Catholic bishop called for the project to donate the money to the poor instead of building the largest Christmas tree in the region, reported BBC.
The hotels we stayed at in India were ready for the holiday as well, but in a much more understated fashion. The Claridges had a tree shaped structure with shelves to hold small gingerbread houses. At the Sofitel in Mumbai, a giant gingerbread playhouse was on one side of the lobby, while a tree of white champagne bottles formed a New Year tree on the other.
I only spotted two U.S. franchises in the foodcourt at the mall attached to the hotel, Pizza Hut and Domino’s, but if franchising's not in its present, it's likely to be in its future.