By Wan Zainal Abidin
There are plenty of resorts and hotels to discover in the Maldives; from romantic resorts for honeymooners, trendy resorts that cater for hedonism, to a family friendly resorts, ocean babies, surfers. It seems that anything you want to do, on any budget, is possible here.
Resorts here know how to curate holiday fun aplenty, but nowhere could be smarter or more sparkling with sophistication than the Gili Lankanfushi. Located in the languid waters of the North Malé Atoll, it is the ultimate place to check in to get away from the world. This beloved eco-resort recently welcomed back guests after an inspired renovation of the resort in 2019. I have been lucky enough to visit the resort prior to their upgrade and am happy to note that the property is still honouring its laid-back philosophy and rustic chic aesthetic for the barefoot luxury traveler.
The bright villas at Gili Lankanfushi are exquisitely designed in a soothing neutral palate of weathered wood tones inspired by the island’s natural surroundings. Locally sourced turquoise fabric add flashed of colour. Every piece of furniture in the new villas and living areas is custom made by skilled craftsmen from the island using upcycled materials. Recycled teak wood bed frames and woven mesh lamp shades twisted into fish and sea turtles, help to create a cohesive link to the island. The coffee tables engraved with the stars reflect the clear night sky, while illuminated bamboo prawn catchers hand weightlessly on ceilings for lighting.
Villas suites now have the added luxury of a private pool, alongside an expansive roof deck with daybeds perfect for watching the stunning Maldivian sunsets, a practice I happily partook in daily. Of course, the scene stealer on the resort has got to be the vast 1,700m² Private Reserve which is the largest overwater villa in the world; there are four large bedrooms, a private open-air cinema, spa, gymnasium, infinity pool and two-storey high water slide that leads directly into the ocean!
From the marine centre, guest can go into the azure Indian ocean where you have a wealth of water activities. My favourite has got to be the sunset dolphin cruise and sailing in a local dhoni boat, which I can never seem to get enough of despite having visited many times before. Instead of the spa massages and treatments however, I decided to work up a sweat with their private tennis coach for the entire week of my stay!
Gili Lankanfushi also offers a series of indulgent dining experiences within its exceptionally stylish surroundings featuring the best local catch from the sea. Kashiveli, its main restaurant, is the perfect setting to melt into the chilled-out vibes of the Maldives while savouring locally-inspired dishes. Wonderfully simple and themed buffets can be found at the Overwater Bar. By The Sea, is their Japanese themed restaurant that offers delicious teppanyaki dinners and a fabulous selection of local sashimi and sushi! One of the stellar dining options while at Gili Lankanfushi is your choice of destination dining. Your Mr.Friday (personal butler) will be more than pleased to recommend spots around the island where they can set up a private dining experience under the stars.