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Hotel review: Gili Lankanfushi (Maldives)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Today (March 26, 2014): Review of Gili Lankanfushi (Maldives).

Gili Lankanfushi, formerly known as Soneva Gili, is located on the private island of Lankanfushi in the North Malé Atoll of the Maldives. Located on the equator towards the south of India and stretching over 800 km,  the Maldives are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edge at some points plunge to depths of over 3 km. The islands are blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, crystal clear blue lagoons, incredible underwater wildlife, and unrivalled luxury resorts. And Gili Lankanfushi is no exception to that: it is one of the top resorts in the Maldives, an intimate coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties threading across the water out to spacious villa accommodations.

Gili Lankanfushi features in my top 10 lists of the best resorts in the Maldives and the most spectacular hotel bathrooms in the world.

I also published reviews of other luxury resorts in the Maldives: NaladhuOne&Only Reethi RahMaalifushi by COMO, and Soneva Fushi (and there are more to come).

In this review (more info and photos below the slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The resort is located a short 20 minute trip in a speedboat from Male International Airport. Upon arrival at the airport, the hotel staff will take care of your smooth and trouble-free transfer to the resort. This is a huge advantage as compared to some of the more isolated islands in the Maldives that can only be reached with a connecting flight on a seaplane, as those water-taxi transfers not only consume more time (including waiting time at the airport) on both your arrival and departure day, but they also only operate during daylight hours.
  • The scenery at Gili Lankanfushi is breathtaking. Powdery soft and sugar white beaches, lush tropical vegetation with plenty of palm trees, and impossibly turquoise, clear waters in Gili’s Lankanfushi’s stunning lagoon will await you. This is the epitome of paradise (and it will raise your standard for future holidays).
  • The staff is absolutely fantastic and attentive. Upon arrival at the island, you will be met by the general manager and your personal butler, called “Mr or Ms Friday” (in line with the Robinson Crusoë ambiance of the island). Whenever you need something during your stay, you just press a button on the villa phone and it will connect you directly to your Mr./Ms. Friday. The Fridays will also be there to wave you off when you leave (something you will be reluctant to do).
  • If you are a foodie, you will be in heaven at Gili Lankafushi. Breakfast (served on the beach when weather permitting) is excellent with an outstanding range of –amongst others – juices, smoothies, teas, fruit, sushi, and hot food. The main restaurant, located over water, caters to all tastes and offers a combination of dishes that allows East to meet West in culinary synchrony. By the Sea restaurant on the other side of the island presents a Japanese and Peruvian fusion culinary adventure combining breath-taking views of the ocean with intimate dining for just 26 guests. You can also choose from in-villa dining, dining in the subterranean Wine Cellar, or joining one of the amazing themed buffet nights, where a number of cooking stations serves freshly made, mouth-watering dishes.
  • All 45 overwater villas at Gili Lankanfushi are massive (amongst the largest in the world) and come in 4 categories (villa suites, residences, Crusoe residences, and the Private reserve). They are built of natural materials, with beautifully appointed bedrooms and bathrooms, and with maximum use of deck space to soak in the sun and the exquisite lagoon. You can jump right off the hammock style seating and sun loungers on your deck into the warm crystal clear waters of the lagoon. Each villa also comes with a rooftop terrace, perfect for stargazing every night.
  • Although the island is small, you will get a pair of bicycles to get around. Alternatively, you can make use of an efficient buggy system.
  • The overwater spa offers wonderful treatments and massages.
  • The resort is eco-friendly.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
  • At low tide, water levels on the eastern side of the lagoon are quite low, making swimming difficult and exposing some corals.
  • Snorkeling in the lagoon is not as impressive as at some of the other Maldives resorts. Nevertheless, there is a nice sorkeling area around one palm island (which you can reach by kayak), where you will see the usual rays and small sharks.
  • One drawback may be the resort’s (more precisely jetty 2) proximity to Paradise Island Resort, which is next door and can be seen and sometimes heard as well (when a party on the island takes place). It did not bother me though, although it somehow conflicts with the idea of a remote island experience.
  • Due to the proximity to the airport, there is a lot of boat traffic and noise in front of the island.
  • The resort is very expensive, but so is every top resort in the Maldives and the prices are in line with its competitors. Boat transfers cost 165 USD per person. Budget roughly 200 USD per person per day for standard meals.
  • The resort promotes barefoot luxury, so you do not wear shoes during your stay. But your feet will have a hard time walking on the burning hot deck, so bring slippers.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9.4/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury resort like Gili Lankanfushi (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, Maldivian Tapas served with one glass of Champagne per person, a 30 minute spa treatment for two,  $100 USD food & beverage credit, combined round-trip airport transfers, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • Pre-book a meal plan to avoid excessive food costs. Half-board, with breakfast and dinner, should satisfy even the biggest eater.
  • The villas are located on 3 jetties. Jetty number 3 is small and on the west side while jetties 1 and 2 are much larger and are located on the eastern side of the lagoon which has very shallow water. All villas are nicely and privately located, so it does not really matter where you end up, but I personally prefer the villas on jetty number 3 as these villas will give you sunshine on the terrace all day long (including around sunset) and because on jetty 1 and 2, the coral is exposed at low tide which is not a pretty sight since the water will then lose its deep blue color. On the other hand, jetty 3 on the west side sees a lot of boat traffic passing during the day, while jetty 1 and 2 on the east side have no boat traffic.
  • Don’t forget that you’re in an ocean paradise. Take advantage of Gili Lankanfushi’s diving school, go for a leisurely snorkel through azure waters, go deep-sea fishing, or try windsurfing.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best weather is the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (and high hotel prices). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled recent years.


HOW TO GET THERE

The resort  is located a 20-minute speedboat trip away from Male International Airport (UVF), which is served by many airlines (click here for a direct link to their websites):

  • From/via Asia : Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok), Tigerair (via Singapore), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Air India (via Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram), China Eastern Airlines (via Colombo, Kunmnig), Cina Southern Airlines (via Guanghzou), Hainan Airlines (via Bejing), Korean Air (via Colombo and Seoul), Shanghai Airlines (via Shanghai), Srilankan Airlines (via Colombo), Maldivian (Chennai, Chongqing, Colombo, Dhaka, Thiruvanathapuram), Mega Maldives (via Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai).
  • From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Flybudai (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Oman Air (via Muscat), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
  • From/via Europe: Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Thompson Airways (via London), Monarch Airlines (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich), Meridiana (via Rome or Milan), Neos (via Rome or Milan), Transaero Airlines (via Moscow).

RESORT OVERVIEW

RESORT OVERVIEW

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

MAIN POOL

MAIN POOL

ONE PALM ISLAND

ONE PALM ISLAND

JETTY NUMBER ONE

JETTY NUMBER ONE

JETTY NUMBER TWO

JETTY NUMBER TWO

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - ENTRANCE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – ENTRANCE

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - BEDROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – BEDROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - DESK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – DESK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – BATHROOM

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - PRIVATE POOL

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – PRIVATE POOL

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - ROOFTOP

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – ROOFTOP

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - ROOFTOP

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – ROOFTOP

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE - SUNDECK

OVERWATER VILLA SUITE – SUNDECK

VILLA SUITES AT HIGH TIDE

VILLA SUITES AT HIGH TIDE

VILLA SUITES AT LOW TIDE

VILLA SUITES AT LOW TIDE

VILLA SUITE AT HIGH TIDE

VILLA SUITE AT HIGH TIDE

VILLA SUITE AT LOW TIDE

VILLA SUITE AT LOW TIDE

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

CRUSOE RESIDENCES

PRIVATE RESERVE

PRIVATE RESERVE

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

ISLAND SCENERY

SPA SUITE

SPA SUITE

HAMMOCK

HAMMOCK

IN-VILLA BREAKFAST

IN-VILLA BREAKFAST

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

ISLAND SCENERY

SUNSET


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1 Comment on Hotel review: Gili Lankanfushi (Maldives)

  1. MaldivesDreamer // March 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm // Reply

    Beautiful pics! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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