Since I had loved Gili Lankanfushi (formerly known as Soneva Gili) so much during our honeymoon, I was worried it might not live up to the same expectations five years later for our recent anniversary trip. Well, there was no need to worry because it’s just as amazing as it ever was!
First up – service is still top notch. Special thanks to our waiters Soda and Assad, our room service guy Sammi, Rami in the diving center, and most of all, our Senior Mr. Friday Shifaz whom we loved (and is easy on the eyes to boot)! He took care of everything we ever needed, constantly checked in on us (in a good way), rearranged schedules whenever requested and was overall, just amazing. Here’s one example of the service: during one of Shifaz’s check-ins at breakfast, I told him my husband had left for a few minutes to return to the villa and charge our camera. Shifaz then said how we could’ve just rang him and he would’ve taken care of it for us so my husband wouldn’t have had to gotten up. It hadn’t even occurred to us! Here’s a pic of us with Shifaz when leaving:
Accommodation. We special requested the same villa we had during our honeymoon and were able to get it. It was like coming back home – all the familiarity and same amazing view. The villas here really are extraordinary (and huge!) – over-water villas with a second floor, deck, little sea garden the shower is above, BOSE sound system piping through the entire place, the list goes on. There are few hotels/resorts I’m impressed by and this is definitely one of my top three (in case you’re wondering – the other two are Ulagalla Resort in Sri Lanka and Vumbura Plains in Botswana). I also love that the whole resort is ecofriendly. Shifaz even gave us a little keychain with our villa number to remember it. So sweet.
Food. There is so much food it’s ridiculous! And it’s good too. They also do theme nights which can a nice change of pace from the regular menu – think Asian and Mediterranean nights. I met the sous chef during a private cooking class (see pic of us enjoying the fruits of our labor below) and he’s super nice and really passionate about food, which is nice to see in-person.
Massages. I get A LOT of massages – at my home bases of NY and Paris – and also for vacation. Gili Lankanfushi has still by far given me the best massages of my life. (FYI – Great Jones Spa in NYC is also very good). And the spa staff is also very friendly. Oh – and there are a lot of reef shark by the spa villa so you can check out the fishes while you’re getting a massage (there’s a little porthole while you’re laying there) or afterwards.
Atmosphere. It’s very laidback and a small/medium sized resort, which I love. As another reviewer wrote – it’s “understated luxury”. You could go barefoot all day if you wanted to – and I don’t mean just in your villa, but at breakfast and even at dinner. I considered my jetty like my little neighborhood and everyone – from staff to guests – as my neighbors.
As for the “negatives” – if you could even call it that because it’s barely anything – there were only a few tiny things that I noticed which I didn’t love. I did already mention it to the staff who had a good explanation for everything though. For example – I saw trash on the beach/water – but by trash, I mean like one orange peel and one water bottle floating in the ocean. When a place is so gorgeous little things that are slightly amiss stick out. Apparently, it’s from the nearby yachts and resort. The other thing is I don’t love having to switch waiters in the middle of my stay. That’s like if they abruptly switched my Mr. Friday on me for two days. I do understand it’s hard to have the same person the whole time, but if there were a way that could be mitigated that’d be amazing… or if they let you select whom you want as your backup waiter. The third thing is there were about three to five kids who were there. I believe they’re thinking about turning some of the villas into bigger family villas, so I’m a bit nervous that it’ll be full of families/children, which would scare me and some honeymooners away. Hopefully it’ll only remain with a few children here and there.
Finally, one of the things we quickly found out that’s great about being a repeat visitor (AKA “repeater”) and going for your anniversary, was all the amazing complimentary stuff you get – massages, cooking class, sunset sailing, cocktails at the bar, etc. Totally unexpected and appreciated. They even gave us two little gifts at the end of the trip!
Overall, I highly recommend Gili Lankanfushi and can’t even stomach the thought of not returning for another five years… looks like we may have to break habit and go back in two years instead. It’s one of my happiest places on earth.
Maldives, Lankanfushi Island, North Malé Atoll
Republic of Maldives
Phone: +960 664 0304
Fax: +960 664 0305