GILI LANKANFUSHI THE ULTIMATE ROBINSON CRUSOE EXPERIENCE

Shoes are not allowed, guests cycle to get around the property and sharks come right up to the jetty. Need I say more?

In a country where each island and the luxury resort it homes looks like a gorgeous picture-postcard deciding where to stay is a rather daunting task. Even then Gili Lankanfushi’s picturesque beauty doesn’t fail to impress. My husband and I first laid eyes on the property from the hotel speedboat. It was out of this world, a blue and green paradise where nature has been generous enough to bestow all its best boons. The entire place, including the construction is born out of fantasy and magic and luckily the owners have been smart enough to let it retain its natural splendor by carefully preserving the island’s native vegetation and beauty.

Now, a friendly welcome is always reassuring, and so our personal Mr. Friday met us as soon as we arrived to hand over our keys, and show us around the resort and our villa. But that’s not all, the service is so personalized that even the resort manager made time to receive and send us off. In a matter of a day, we knew the staff on a first name basis and vise versa.

Getting There
There are direct flights to Maldives from a number of cities in India. You can fly directly from Bangalore, Kochi and Trivandrum. Once you arrive at Male International Airport, Gili Lankanfushi is just a 20-minute boat- ride away. Since most other hotels require guests to take an additional tiring flight to reach them, this makes Gili one of the most easily accessible luxury resorts in the island nation.

Who for
Guests who enjoy discrete luxury and want to relax in green, peaceful and luscious surroundings. Some of the most awe-inspiring views in the world are just an added benefit for romantic honeymooners.

Amenities
Like most places in the Maldives snorkeling is incredible around the entire resort. The surrounding reef is very healthy and hence the marine life is plentiful, from colorful fish to turtles and mantas and even dolphins and sharks, you are never disappointed with your spotting. You can simply jump in the water from the sundeck of your overwater suite and explore away. But what is truly fantastic is the properties night snorkeling excursion. Your guide will hand you special light goggles before jumping into the water and then you can marvel at the enchanting glowing coral that surrounds the island.

Gili Lankanfushi also boasts of the charming Meera Spa. Unfortunately, during our visit the spa was being renovated. None-the-less, we indulged in a couple’s massage at the makeshift spa. The masseuse was so skilled I quickly found myself drifting away to another planet. It is the perfect escape for those trying to forget the stresses of everyday life.

Then there is also the unique Jungle Cinema. Guest can watch a movie under the stars at the resorts outdoor forest theatre. The catalog of things to do does not end here. The island has enough activities that you can occupy yourself with a new activity daily for weeks. Unfortunately, this is all I could experience during my short stay.

Food and Wine
There are a several options for guests to wine and dine. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at the Overwater Bar where I savored some of the freshest seafood I have ever tasted. However, what really impressed me was the experiential pop-up Asian street food night market. There was a lavish display of some of the most delectable traditional dishes from all over Asia. What’s even better? The experience choice isn’t limited to Asian street food; there is a different market and grill night every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Another authentic offering is the underground cave that doubles as a wine cellar. Guests have the opportunity to taste world-class chocolates, cheeses, and wines- all underground. Then there is the exclusive and ultra-romantic opportunity to enjoy a private dinner with your significant other on your own private island. The list goes on….

Accommodation
The accommodation is by far the star of the Gili experience. Most resorts only offer superficial luxury, meaning beneath the pretense of being dedicated to catering solely to guests they try to cut corners wherever possible. This is most evident when it comes to room size. Even though in a place like Maldives maximum luxury resorts offer spacious suites nothing compares to the bungalow styled suites at the Gili. The resort has only 45 villa suites and even the most basic category (where I stayed) is large compared to any other resort I have visited world over. All the thatch- roof villas are in the water and have an open-air living room, a sun deck with breezy views, a huge bathroom, a private natural dipping pool, a spacious bedroom and a private rooftop sundeck. Guests are usually spoilt for choice on where to relax and I found it tempting not to leave the accommodation altogether. If the quaint bedroom doesn’t satisfy you (very unlikely), there is an option to sleep under the stars. You simply need to phone your personal Mr. Friday and he will setup your roof deck with a comfortable bed to fall asleep under one of the clearest skies in the entire world today.

What’s Nearby?
Male city is only a short boat ride away. However, the island is secluded enough that you would not suspect there is any other civilization for miles and that’s exactly the point. As with all island resorts in Maldives, once you’ve arrived at your destination, you won’t need to leave. Everything a guest could possibly require is provided for in the property. Even the staff lives on the island and there’s nothing to disturb your tranquility.

Negatives
Gili is both priceless and pricey. Although most resorts in these phenomenal islands are pricey, Gili with its top-end offering comes with a heftier price tag.

Verdict
I have always been an ambassador of holistic and responsible tourism. True luxury travel makes you feel good inside out. This is the mantra on which Gili Lankanfushi operates. It one of the first devoutly eco friendly resorts in the Maldives and this philosophy remains the driving force till date. Considering that it has built on the concept of luxury in a way that is sustainable it is more noteworthy than regular hedonistic and opulent retreats. Gili life encourages you to make small lifestyle changes while you are a guest there. Incorporating little things like the no news no shoes policy, coming up with the concept of Gili time which gifts you an extra hour of sunlight and pushing you to cycle around the resort helps energize the body, mind and soul, leaving one not just relaxed but rejuvenated. This differentiating characteristic coupled with the exquisite five-star barefoot island luxury the resort offers urges me to endorse Gili to all my readers.

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TnH Global
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