I first went to Pigeon Island Beach Resort before it opened, after having randomly met the owner Nigel Coomaraswamy on the HeliTours flight over. We didn't have a ride from the airport and Nigel was kind enough to give us one, plus his boat to Pigeon Island, plus a lobster lunch when we got back. He was super nice and very interesting. I was very sad to hear that he passed away this July.
Pigeon Island Beach Resort is one of the newest hotels in Nilaveli and one of the hardest working. We just went there for a meal and it was both good, affordable, and well-served.
The Resort has 38 rooms, overlooking a courtyard/pool, but not the sea. The property is actually on a narrow bit of land - ie, not much beach front - but they've done a lot with it. What is great about the land is that it's directly opposite Pigeon Island, a lovely coral ringed island just off the coast, which is absolutely worth a visit (please don't step on the coral).
Rooms seem to range from $60 to $300 (Rs. 8,000 to 40,000), depending on the room and season. From our impression it seemed like a family place with a lot of kids in the pool.
If you're just popping in for a meal, we'd recommend the buffet if you can get it, though the set menu is quite good. Unlike many hotels, the printed prices include service and tax and are quite fair. The service is also quite good, or was for us, which we'll get to later.
We tried a few things, an excellent spaghetti carbonara (Rs. 950), a nice if slightly over-seasoned crab curry and rice (Rs. 1,000), a club sandwich with real bacon (Rs. 650) and a burger (Rs. 750) which was OK. Oh, and a very nice tomato soup. Service and tax can add 20% to a meal, so these prices were really quite good value for money.
The menu is a bit wide ranging for our comfort (everything from pizza to steak to seafood), but it was all pretty good.
The service here was excellent. A lot of hotels can make you feel like you're a leper if you're not staying there, but they were very welcoming and competent. They set proper cutlery, refilled water and took questions about the menu quite professionally, going back to check information if they didn't know. This may seem obvious, but it's actually quite rare. Kudos for to their team.
If you want to get away from the more crowded Nilaveli Beach Resort and have a decent, affordable meal, Pigeon Island Beach Resort is a good spot. It had a great owner (RIP) and continues to have good, hospitable staff.
They have a good buffet.