My first visit to Gili Lankanfushi since 2013 and it was reassuring to see everything still so ‘Gili’ like.
We all know the key points of what makes Gili special, but i had forgotten how pretty the island is. Palm trees carefully positioned around the restaurant area made for one of the most idyllic breakfast settings i can remember in the Maldives, and cycling through an avenue of overlapping trees with the large, tropical leaves protecting me from the sun was a genuinely lovely experience.
I stayed in a Family Villa w/pool. The villa itself, along with the entire jetty has all been recently built after the fire, but of course the style is the same as the existing villas – thoughtful & stylish use of wood, thatch and elegant furniture but now with the addition of a private pool. Private pools have also been added to some Residences and Villa Suites, and while this will upset some Gili purists, for me it is a welcome addition. As well as 2 bedrooms in the Family Villas there is a separate air conditioned living room and these are the most notable new additions to the resort.
While there is no kids club, there is plenty to do and with creative ‘Mr Friday’s’ on hand plus tennis courts, surfing, usual watersports and more, and clients can push Gili as a resort suitable for families as well as couples.
We were exceptionally well looked after by Fiyaz, our Mr Friday. The service is notably impressive at Gili across all areas of the resort. From the waiters knowing us by name to the attention to detail shown by Fiyaz we were consistently impressed. Nicholas, the GM could not have been more welcoming and we spent a very entertaining evening sampling a huge amount of superb Japanese cuisine washed down with the perfectly chosen wine by the expert sommelier.
I can also highly recommend a wine tasting session in the Underground Wine Cellar. Unfortunately no Chateau Petrus for us with a price tag of many thousands, but tasting a range of original wines from around the world paired with a variety of cheese is a lovely way to start the evening, before heading to the Castaway pontoon in the lagoon to watch the sun go down with one of the finest dry martinis i have experienced.
The coral, as in much of the Maldives, is on the bare side. But I noticed across all the islands we visited encouraging signs of small pockets of vibrant colour and soft coral making a comeback. Conditions have been ideal for the re-growth of coral apparently, and we must hope this is a sign of things to come. Of course, the marine life was spectacular and regardless of the coral it is always a must do experience.
I must mention the positioning of the resort in Male Atoll. Gili has such an advantage being only a 25 minutes speedboat transfer from the airport. Of course this does mean it is in a busy part of the country. On one side is Paradise Island and on the other is a local island. Seaplanes regularly fly nearby and lights from the many resorts twinkle across the ocean in the evening. The main worry is noise pollution but for me, this really is not an issue. International flights did not fly directly over the island and the Paradise Island disco is now on the other side of the resort to the relief of many! Guests need to be aware, but it certainly should not be a deal breaker.
In all, i was completely won over by Gili, as i expected to be and very much looking forward to bringing my family back for a proper holiday in the near future!