“The ideology of the Colombo Club stems from the fact that it’s a very old, established organisation, which was formed for the purpose of having a place for senior management of the colonial administration to conduct meetings, socialise, relax and so forth,” stated the Chairman of the Colombo Club Kumar Jayasuriya.
He continued: “I’m happy to say that that same ideology has carried all the way even after 100 years have passed.” The Colombo Club was established by the British administration for executives and managers of the colonial administration to meet, greet, and wine and dine.
“It also supported the plantation community – because plantation managers who lived outside Colombo had a place they could come to whenever they had to visit Colombo,” he explained, adding that the club was ideal for them to conduct meetings and socialise.
In addition, the Colombo Club hosted an array of events related to the Royal family and British heritage, making it a sought after facility for social gatherings.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chairperson of the Colombo Club Anushya Coomaraswamy said: “We have meeting rooms which are private for any person who wants to reserve a space where they can be sure of confidentiality.”
She added that “we have a restaurant and bar,” and emphasised that the business community has the opportunity to conduct confidential meetings at the club.
And Coomaraswamy remarked that “a lot of commercial sector deals over the years have been negotiated and finalised on our premises.” This has continued even in COVID times and the office bearers hope they can reopen the facility soon as they believe it to be one of their most valuable contributions to the business community.
Jayasuriya asserted: “We try to make it relevant to the members as much as possible; so we conduct bimonthly, regular luncheon meetings where an eminent speaker is invited to speak on a subject of interest to our members.”
He explained that “the speakers were of such high calibre and much sought after that we had full houses whenever they addressed our members.” And the club’s Chairman noted that the topics covered business and international affairs, as well as environmental matters.
Meanwhile, Coomaraswamy noted that if members of the business community want to entertain visitors from overseas, “the Colombo Club is a place where they can conduct meetings and follow up with a drink.”
As for obtaining membership of the club, she stated that “there’s no real qualification per se; but what we’d like is people of a good [social] standing, and those that will uphold the values and culture of the club.” To this end, she added that “for that reason, we preferably require that any new member is nominated or sponsored by a member of the committee.”
However, the club’s Vice Chairperson also mentioned that there could be aspiring members who don’t know anyone on the committee. In that case, the committee interviews the prospective new member.
On the other hand, with the advent of generations Z and Y securing key roles in the business arena, Jayasuriya said that “the average age of our members is also reducing quite dramatically.”
“They tend to apply for membership at a much earlier age than maybe some of our older members,” he observed.
The Colombo Club’s 150th anniversary is being celebrated in a subdued manner in view of the pandemic with the publication of a commemorative coffee-table book in collaboration with LMD. Commenting on this, Jayasuriya revealed that “it will include narratives from other organisations associated with the club prior to 1900.”
Meanwhile, the club has donated medical equipment to four hospitals around the island in honour of the anniversary.
Going forward, the Colombo Club is eager to continue upholding the original purpose it was formed for. It is also adapting to the modern needs of its members and intends to increase the number of reciprocal clubs in the future.