DAMDAM

Conversations with

The Kip

BY PHILIPPE TERRIEN

Photographs by The Kip

Over the summer, I stayed at The Kip in Ahangama, the south coast of Sri Lanka. The Kip is run by Phoebe and Seddy and the couple transformed the private accommodation into a pleasant three-room villa, filled with things they love. Phoebe was the perfect host, ready with a million tips to keep me busy in the area, while Seddy – the perfect Italian – was quick to anticipate my desire for a good cup of coffee. We chatted about their inspiring, life-changing decision to get away from the city and lead a slower lifestyle close to nature.

Tell us about yourselves and The Kip.

I’m Phoebe and my husband, Seddy, and I are owners of The Kip in Sri Lanka. I’m from Australia, Seddy’s from Italy. We moved over to Sri Lanka two years ago for a change of lifestyle, to slow down and get back to a simple life. We started The Kip as an extension of our lifestyle and open our home to other people to slow down and take some time out from their busy schedule and come and relax in Sri Lanka.

I have a hospitality background, as does Seddy, but my last role was in advertising and Seddy’s was in insurance, which in retrospect go against what we believed in. So we took time out to look at our lives and realized that we weren’t living our lives true to our values. I think I’ve always known I wasn’t for the corporate life and the nine to five. I definitely like a slower lifestyle but it clicked when we finally came here on an extended holiday. After catching up on some sleep, we started to meet interesting people and have conversations that we hadn’t had back home being in the city life, which was mainly about more materialistic things.

We started to get creative again and I went back to doing some artwork and we got into meditation and I think at that stage, we weren’t watching television – all of that stuff allowed us to have more space, think, and challenge the lifestyle we had back home. The holiday was the catalyst to make the change and we just thought that if we don’t do it now, we never will.

A dog, a profusion of trees, and a good lounger are all you really need.

“We moved over to Sri Lanka two years ago for a change of lifestyle, to slow down and get back to a simple life. We started The Kip as an extension of our lifestyle and open our home to other people to slow down and take some time out from their busy schedule and come and relax in Sri Lanka.”

So you decided from one day to the next to change your lifestyle?

Pretty much, yeah. We were traveling for four months in Sri Lanka so over that period, we made the decision to move away. Coming here allowed us to really explore that idea and be reminded that we really just wanted the simple things.

Why Ahangama in Sri Lanka?

I came here originally to do yoga and did some traveling and it reminded me of Ubud in Bali, where I grew up. It reminded me of Bali in many ways before tourism. It came with very nice memories and I liked the fact that to a large part, Sri Lanka has avoided mainstream tourism so far. That would change within the next five to 10 years but we like the diversity in terms of landscape and wildlife. We’ve got the beach, hill country, elephants roaming in the wild – all that appealed to us.

Being by the sea is very important. Being from Australia, I need to be by the sea. Logistically, being in Ahangama allowed us to be on the south coast so we can get to the airport within three hours and we’ve got the historical Galle fort. And we like it here because it’s not too touristy. It’s still a little village and inland you’ve got the rice paddies. The beach is fabulous and alot of people still don’t know the beach because it’s off-season and the beach is wiped out. And when the season comes, you’ve got a stretch of white sand. So we liked the fact that it was in the middle of the village but still smack bang in the south coast which means you’ve got all the best beaches to the east and west of you. Take your pick!

In the south of Sri Lanka, Seddy and Phoebe surrounded by things they love.

“It’s still a little village and inland you’ve got the rice paddies. The beach is fabulous and alot of people still don’t know the beach because it’s off-season and the beach is wiped out. And when the season comes, you’ve got a stretch of white sand. So we liked the fact that it was in the middle of the village but still smack bang in the south coast which means you’ve got all the best beaches to the east and west of you. Take your pick!”

Where do you think Sri Lanka will be in the future?

I think it came down to the civil war which is why it was protected. And now that the war is finished, people are coming down. It’s very popular with the Europeans than Australians because we’ve got Bali. Things are starting to change with hotels opening which I think is scary because I’d hate for it to go down that path. I think it will become more like Bali because it will attract the same type of person who wants to surf, have a nice time, and have beautiful weather.

What’s your view on sustainability at The Kip?

We definitely do pay attention. We’re not perfect but we try to implement as many sustainable means as we can. Generally speaking, we travel every week 45 minutes with our rubbish to take it somewhere that can be recycled because there’s no recycling – let alone garbage – service here. Then we do smaller things like providing our guests with string bags in every room if they’d like to go to the markets, we try not to use single-use plastic, we started an organic veggie patch. We also do compost for wet food, we don’t sell bottled water, we’ve got solar hot water. We try and buy our products from a guy we know that doesn’t use pesticides.

That’s always at the forefront of any decision we make. We have the dream of making another Kip somewhere around the world and I’d like to start something in textiles because Sri Lanka is good at textiles. Something creative on the side that I can run in unison with The Kip while Seddy would probably like to develop something in food and cooking, possibly like a little cafe or something like that.

Sustainability and reducing their impact on the environment is at the heart of The Kip.

“We travel every week 45 minutes with our rubbish to take it somewhere that can be recycled because there’s no recycling – let alone garbage – service here. Then we do smaller things like providing our guests with string bags in every room if they’d like to go to the markets, we try not to use single-use plastic, we started an organic veggie patch. We also do compost for wet food, we don’t sell bottled water, we’ve got solar hot water. We try and buy our products from a guy we know that doesn’t use pesticides.”

Speaking of sustainability, does that extend to your skincare routine?

I’m a very irregular skincare user and have a very irregular routine because of what’s accessible here but I use an organic soap at the moment that’s handmade here using coconut oil. The saltwater is good for the skin when I go swimming but it’s drying on the hair so it’s a balancing act. Obviously what you put on your skin is very important to me so I try to keep it as organic and clean as possible. I need to try out your amazing products. Simple is best.

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