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A Bright Spot Emerges in Postwar Colombo, Sri Lanka

The scent has long since faded from Cinnamon Gardens, in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, just blocks from the Indian Ocean. During the South Asian nation’s long civil war, even Colombo’s toniest residential neighborhood suffered. Fanciful colonial mansions deteriorated along once grand avenues. Abandoned storefronts, too, were among the war’s collateral economic damage here. Since securing victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009, though, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has applied his still strong arm to beautifying Colombo’s streets, beginning with those in this district. Sri Lankan fashion designers and artists have followed, many returning from abroad, while boutique hotels, like the 10-room Tintagel, and chic restaurants and cafes, like Coco Veranda, right, breathe new life into old haunts.

Stringhopper and Conscience
32 Ward Place, 1/F
(94-11) 788-5511

Ajai Virr Singh, the owner, checks every point on the “supply chain of happiness” that produces his label, guilt-free men’s wear with notes of sly humor; from 3,500 Sri Lankan rupees, or $31 at 111 rupees to $1.

12 Barnes Place (94-11) 269-6498

At this Zen-calm day spa, owned by Kishani Gunawardena (seated), pure essences of geranium, cajuput, citronella and lemon grass make this shop’s mosquito repellent spray a best buy for anyone heading into the island’s jungle interior or southern beaches. Prices from 375 rupees.

3-14/C1, Kynsey Road
(94-11) 523-0523

Midori Peiris, who also works for Amanresorts, retains the hotel brand’s attention to detail at her year-old tea boutique. Ms. Peiris creates blends from the island’s 80-plus leaf varieties.

Saskia Fernando Gallery
61 Dharmapala Mawatha
(94-11) 742-9010

Sri Lankan artists like Prageeth Manohansa and Dumith Kulasekara, who show at this sleek spot owned by Ms. Fernando (at left), are now attracting serious attention from curious tourists as well as London gallerists. Prices, starting at 20,000 rupees, are on the rise as well.

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