Hotel review

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives – Hotel Review.

By Richard Jones, September 2022

When you visit a location previously featured on a TV show Billionaire Resorts: Vacationing with the Super Rich (Channel 5, Sunday, September 4, 7 p.m.), you expect great things.

But despite the immense opulence of Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, it’s the little personal touches that make the difference.

Seventeen years after we last visited the island nation for our honeymoon, my wife Rachel and I boarded Turkish Airlines flights to Istanbul and then to Velana Airport in Male.

From there, a speedboat took us to Gili, the Robinson Crusoe-themed eco-resort in the North Malé Atoll.

And if we weren’t already aware of what lay ahead over the next week, the 20-minute transfer made it as crystal clear as the Indian Ocean we were zooming across.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Hotel Reviews

Rich and Rachel in the Maldives


After a cold flannel and juice, we were asked to place our shoes and socks in cloth tote bags labeled “No News, No Shoes,” where they would remain for the following week.

Then, as we set foot on the pier, we were greeted by Ismail, our own personal assistant or Mr. Friday, named after Crusoe’s loyal friend and assistant.

Her mission was to make sure we had the most luxurious and comfortable stay possible, whether it was taking us around the island, making meal reservations or arranging activities. .

However, it’s not just Mr/Ms Fridays that make holidays in Gili special – there’s a community of 280 staff who are always available with a friendly smile.

Gili is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary following the complete renovation of its 45 storybook overwater villas in 2019.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Hotel Beach Reviews

Breakfast on the white sand beach

Our house for the week had its own outdoor living space, a private terrace with direct access to the hot lagoon and a roof terrace where you can sleep under the stars.

With a rustic-chic design inspired by the resort’s natural surroundings, the bedroom’s warm browns and beiges contrasted sharply with our striking view each morning – the mint-green and cyan ocean, fringed by white sandy beaches. blinding and lush vegetation.

Accommodation options on Gili range from lavish suite villas, residences and family villas to the seven epic Crusoe Residences, which are only accessible by boat.

But the jewel in its crown is the Private Reserve, a flamboyant four-bedroom floating paradise with its own spa, gym, cinema, infinity pool, and waterslide.

We walked around the property, which at 1,700m2 is the largest overwater villa in the world and, during peak winter season, will set you back £25,000 per night.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Hotel Review street market

The Asian street market

“Lantern Dinners”

Gili’s gastronomic vision, led by passionate Executive Chef Hari Govindaraj, is to make the most of the bountiful ocean, alongside produce from the resort’s organic garden.

Chef Hari introduced us to his ‘Plant to Plate’ menu, featuring aloe vera ceviche and carrot and citrus soup, and although we weren’t quite converted to veganism, he opened up to us eyes on the flavors that can be obtained from only plants. based ingredients.

Although there was an option to eat at our villa each day, we couldn’t resist visiting Gili’s excellent restaurants.

Located on the beach, Karshiveli is run by the charming maitre d’Athu.

Here our friendly waiter Rambo served us breakfast and lantern-lit dinners, and he also hosts a series of themed market experiences – the exotic Asian street market on Tuesdays and the Mediterranean spice souk on Fridays were particularly memorable.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Beachfront Hotel Review

By the sea teppanyaki bar

Across the pier, the Overwater Bar & Grill serves tasty lunches daily, as well as special Indian Tandoori and Churrascaria Brazilian Barbecue nights.

This bar also became our daily spot to admire the Maldivian sunset with a choice of cocktail, which alternated between the Ultimate Stanley, a Wasabi Martini and a Coco Mojito.

Finally, the resort’s signature Japanese restaurant, By The Sea, has separate sushi and teppanyaki bars and pairs local seafood with an extensive sake collection.

Gili’s other “Bucket list on the Beach” dining experiences include a sensory blindfold dinner in the sand, the sommelier’s tasting table in Gili’s glorious wine cellar, and the romantic Seafood Under the Stars and Castaway Canapes & Canapes experiences. Sunset cocktails.

A common misconception in the Maldives is that other than lounging on the beach, by the pool, or in the villa, there isn’t much to do.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Hotel Review hammock

Hammocks on the beach

“Walk barefoot”

However, our week-long trip was filled with morning yoga and gym sessions, a beginner’s surf lesson with Johnny from Tropicsurf in the lagoon, a tutorial with Tomas, the Serbian ex-pro from Tipsarevic Luxury Tennis, and a sunset cruise with dolphins on a Maldivian. Dhoni.

One afternoon, we also went to one of Meera Spa’s glass-floored treatment rooms for a couples massage.

If we weren’t both already relaxed, we certainly were after the therapists worked wonders with Voya’s organic products and the spa’s own line of products.

Every day in Gili is a never-ending postcard, and in between these activities we found plenty of time to lay in the stilted hammocks and walk barefoot along the creamy beaches and sandy paths.

But best of all was the time spent snorkeling around the island, spotting small blacktip reef sharks, manta rays and stingrays, and our favorites, the unicorn fish and the “Finding Dory” surgeonfish.

Gili Lankanfushi Coral Maldives Hotel Review

Coral tracking

Since its conception, sustainability and maintaining the balance of marine life has been at the heart of Gili’s vision of “Keeping Nature Natural”.

Preservation of the environment and ecosystem is of the utmost importance, and very little is wasted – glass from beverage bottles is crushed and used in the construction industry, while reclaimed wood is reshaped for create interesting elements around the island.

Examples include the resort’s cavernous, chilled wine cellar containing a centerpiece table made from a huge piece of driftwood that was swept ashore in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and storage lockers. wine made from recycled villa steps.

The state of the world’s oceans is a hot topic these days, and Rachel and I were miffed to spot a few plastic bottles washed up on shore – obviously from another resort or part of the world (Gili is plastic-free).

However, not all is gloomy and after hearing about Coral Lines’ inspiring rehabilitation project, we joined English marine biologist Hayley for a guided dive of the lagoon and reefs.

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives hotel exterior


Half an hour later, strolling along the edge of the drop-off, Rachel and I finally got to see an ocean creature that we had missed on our previous visit to the Maldives years ago.

According to Hayley, the friendly hawksbill slowly waving its fins a few feet away will have made its way from the coral lines they use as makeshift hammocks.

The little things continue to make a big difference at Gili Lankanfushi – not only on Billionaire Island, but also in the sparkling waters that surround it.

Richard Jones was a guest at Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, where rates per night start from £1,070, based on two adults sharing a Villa Suite with breakfast included. For more information or to book, go to

Turkish Airlines is offering return flights from Manchester, Edinburgh or London Heathrow to Male via Istanbul from £839 in Economy Class and £3,606 in Business Class based on 24 September 2022 departures. For more information , go to:

For airport parking, lounge access and security fast passes at Manchester, Edinburgh or London Heathrow go to

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